Did You Know? The Marathon

Have ever wondered about the origins of the marathon? I’m talking about the road race to be precise and not the evolution of the Snickers bar if that’s what you sweet-toothed readers are thinking about. Back to athletic mode, have you ever questioned why a marathon is 42km long? Well, hot on the sparking heels of the Vodafone Malta Marathon 2014 and the Sochi Olympics here is a little bit of sports history for you to digest. The name ‘marathon’ is derived from the Battle of Marathon, which took place in August or September in 490 B.C., and the legend of Pheidippides, who was a Greek soldier and messenger. He had just fought on the battlefield of Marathon, where the Persian soldiers outnumbered the Greeks 4:1, when he was sent to Athens to announce that the Greeks had triumphed over the Persians. The downside to this glorious fable is that after completing the approximately 40km, route around Mount Pentali and exclaiming something along the lines of “We won”, or “Athens is saved!” – to quote from Robert Browning’s poem Pheidippides – he collapsed and died. And today, over 500 marathons are held around the world with, mostly recreational, athletes competing in this road race.