Could you run 140 miles, then another 140 miles and after all that, just 26 miles?
It is from this magnificent feat that the Marathon, is based.
It all goes back to the Persian wars in 490BC, the Persian Empire decided to expand into Europe. They landed a large army on the plains of Marathon, just outside of Athens.
As the Athens army was vastly outnumbered, they realised that they urgently needed the help of Sparta. They were desperate, time was short, so the Athenian generals sent a professional runner, Philippides, to Sparta to ask for help.
He ran 140 miles across mountains and through rugged countryside. It took him just about 36 hours. The Spartans agreed to send help, but not until the full moon, it was a religious thing, but it left the Athenians alone.
Philippides immediately ran the140 miles back to tell the generals. The generals immediately marched onto the plains of Marathon, engaged the Persians, and beat them! However, the defeated Persians then retreated toward Athens. Opps, wrong way! The generals were desperate, they needed to get news of their victory to Athens, to warn the city of the approaching Persians.
Yes, you guessed it, they then told Philippides to run just 26 miles to Athens, immediately.
Legend has it that he ran 26miles in less than three hours, delivered his message and then, not surprisingly dropped dead of exhaustion. Are you surprised?
That is why we now have the Marathon, in his memory, but fortunately it is only the last 26 miles!
We have a musical Athens – The Birth of Democracy which explains the birth of Democracy that the generals and Philippides were trying to retain.