The marathon is a long-distance running event with an official distance of 26 .2 miles that is usually run as a road race. The name Marathon comes from the legend of Philippides, a Greek messenger. The legend states that he was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon. It is said that he ran the entire distance without stopping and burst into the assembly, exclaiming “We have won” before collapsing and dying.
The marathon was one of the original modern events in 1896, though the distance did not become standardized until 1921. More than 500 marathons are contested throughout the world each year, with the vast majority of competitors being recreational athletes. On March 20, 2011 the Honda LA Marathon will be running its 26th marathon! Will you be running that day?
Here’s a little bit of motivation from Jeff Galloway*, who recently completed the Athens Marathon in Greece.
At first it seemed like your average Marathon start in Athens– crowded, energized, full of expectation and questions about how one would feel at the finish. But as we turned the corner and saw the tomb of the soldiers who fought for our democracy in 490 BC it hit me. We were running on the same ground as Phidippides — 2500 years later.
The Marathon has more power today because it has become the most universal symbol of health excellence. As I listened to the babble of an amazing number of languages, the energy of the runners was universal. We were sharing a special moment together as we were earning our right to be called Marathoners.
It was my 155th marathon, and I don’t take any of them for granted. But as I entered the sacred ground of the original stadium of the modern Olympic Games I was more emotional that I had been since I ran the Boston Marathon with my 75 year old father in 1996.
As you finish your special race or workout run during the next year, give thanks for the rich history of the ancient messengers, for the endorphins that change our attitude for the better in a few minutes, for the unique blend of body, mind and spirit that we receive from running.
On to the next 2500 years of inspiration.
*Jeff Galloway is world-class athlete. As a member of the 1972 Olympic team, Jeff competed against the world’s best athletes in Europe, Africa, and the former Soviet Union. Among his victories are the Peachtree Road Race, Honolulu Marathon, Atlanta Marathon and top place finisher in many prominent U.S. races such as the Boston Marathon. He is the Founder of the Galloway Marathon Training Program and has coached over 200,000 runners and walkers.