Why Is A Marathon Called A Marathon

In my opinion, the history and origins behind the name “marathon” are truly fascinating. Let’s dive deep into the story behind this renowned long-distance race.

The word “marathon” actually comes from an ancient Greek legend. According to the myth, in 490 BCE, a messenger named Pheidippides ran from the city of Marathon to Athens to deliver a pivotal message. The message was of utmost importance, as it informed the Athenians of their victory against the Persians in the Battle of Marathon.

Now, the distance between these two cities is approximately 26.2 miles or 42.195 kilometers, and this is the standard length for a marathon race today. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; we’re still in ancient Greece.

Pheidippides, upon reaching Athens, exclaimed “Nike!” which means victory. Sadly, after delivering the message, he collapsed and died due to exhaustion. This heroic act and sacrifice made by Pheidippides became the basis for the marathon race.

Fast forward to the late 19th century, the modern Olympic Games were born. Inspired by the ancient Greek tradition, the marathon race was added to the inaugural event held in Athens in 1896. The distance of this race was set to be roughly the same as the legendary journey of Pheidippides.

It is worth noting that the actual route taken by Pheidippides may not have been exactly the same as the modern marathon course. Historians believe that he might have followed different paths due to the geographical landscape and other factors.

Over time, the marathon race gained popularity, and its distance was standardized. In 1908, the marathon distance was precisely measured during the London Olympics. The course was extended to allow the race to start at Windsor Castle so that the finish line would be in front of the royal viewing box at the Olympic Stadium.

As an avid runner myself, I find the name “marathon” to be incredibly fitting for such a demanding and iconic race. It not only pays homage to the legendary messenger but also symbolizes the endurance and perseverance required to complete this grueling 26.2-mile journey.

In conclusion, the name “marathon” originated from the legendary run of Pheidippides in ancient Greece. This heroic act became the inspiration for the marathon race, which is now an iconic event in the world of sports. Whether you are a runner or a spectator, the marathon represents the triumph of the human spirit and the indomitable will to overcome challenges.