A long standing staple in the Olympic Games, a Marathon Run is often saved as the last event during an Olympic meet, with the finish line often placed inside the Olympic stadium. Certain Olympics Closing Ceremonies have even featured a marathon run’s finish as part of the ceremony’s program, carefully estimating the race’s end to coincide with the Closing Ceremony’s program flow.
When the concept behind the modern Olympics came into fruition by the end of the 19th century, the event’s steering committee used a Greek legend to popularize the sport meet, which is also basically where the Marathon Run got its name.
The legend of Pheidippides, the soldier from Greece who did a running marathon from the town of Marathon to Athens, was used. The legend states that Pheidippides was tasked to bring news to Athens, regarding the defeat of the Persians, who were at war with the Greeks at that time. Running non stop for an estimated 34.5 kilometers, after proclaiming the news, Pheidippides collapsed and died from exhaustion.
In 1896, the Marathon Run became a feature during the first Modern Olympic Games, through the efforts of Michel Breal. Spiridon “Spiros” Louis, a simple water carrier from Greece, won the first Olympic Marathon Run in 2 hours, 58 minutes and 50 seconds.
As a running event, a marathon run tests a runner’s speed, as well as his/her stamina, considering the distance covered by a marathon running track. It’s “game” concept is pretty self-explanatory. There’s an established starting line as well as a finish line. Runners start running at the same time and whoever gets to the finish line first, wins the marathon run.
Though a marathon run’s concept is pretty simple, winning one isn’t exactly anyone could accomplish. The training for a marathon run alone requires more than just discipline, determination and dedication. Notable marathon runners have proven this over the years.
World records for Marathon Runs were not officially recognized by the International Amateur Athletic Foundation until 2004. Paul Tegart from Kenya holds the world record, for men, with a marathon run completion time of 2 hours and 4 minutes. Paula Radcliffe from the United Kingdom holds the women’s world record, 2 hours and 15 minutes.
At the start of the first seven Olympic Games, the distances of a marathon run varied six times, with 40 kilometers being used twice in two different years. Eventually, a fixed distance was established.
Through the years, since 1896, the marathon run has somewhat become the symbol of the Olympic Games, bringing the flaming torch, symbolizing the value of healthy sportsmanship and competition.
The Marathon Run. A true staple in the Olympic Games.