Story of The Runner & Original Marathon

by farrah on April 10, 2015 · 0 comments

I did not know the history of the marathon before I went to Athens last fall. I was in a cab with my buddies Ann and SJ when we saw a huge glass statue as we drove by. I figured that today being a celebration of my husband and preparing to run the Paris Marathon on Sunday was as good a time as any to share it.

Runner AthensThe pic of the runner I took from the taxi (no, not the lady).

So we were in the cab for only a few minutes. Our driver was friendly and chatty, and I sat in the front seat with him. As I looked out the window I grabbed the photo above and he asked me if I knew the story. Nope. So here is what he told me with a little help from AthensMarathon.com:

“The Runner” is a gigantic sculpture made of green glass in 1988. The artist who created it is Costas Varotsos and is meant to honor the first ‘marathon’- a run to Athens. The modern Athens Marathon commemorates the run of the soldier Pheidippides from a battlefield at the site of the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 B.C., bringing news of a Greek victory over the Persians. Legend has it that Pheidippides delivered the momentous message “Niki!” (“victory”), then collapsed and died, thereby setting a precedent for dramatic conclusions to the marathon. 

runcolA few of his races since we’ve been here.

A few other interesting tid-bits of information thanks to AthensMarathon:

  • The modern Athens Marathon commemorates the run of the soldier Pheidippides from a battlefield at the site of the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 B.C.
  • The Athens Marathon is recognized as the original marathon course and it’s the same course used in the 2004 Olympics held in Athens.
  • The legend of Pheidippides was honored by a 24.85 mile (40,000 meters) run from Marathon Bridge to Olympic stadium in Athens.
  • Athens Stadium, the finish line for the Athens Marathon stands on the site of a stadium used in classical times.
  • Spiridon Louis, a Greek postal worker, won the first modern Marathon with a time of 2 hours, 58 minutes, 50 seconds.
  • At the 1908 Olympic Games in London, the marathon distance was changed to 26.2 miles to cover the ground from Windsor Castle to White City Stadium, with the 2.2 miles added on so the race could finish in front of royal family’s viewing box. This added two miles to the course, and is the origin of the Marathon tradition of shouting “God save the Queen!” (or other words relating to the Queen) as mile post 24 is passed.

So while my husband is shooting for a time around 4 hours, I still cannot fathom doing it myself. We’re immensely proud of him and can’t wait to see him at the finish line. The last time he ran a full marathon was at the Detroit Marathon 2002. We hadn’t even met yet! He pretty much gave up running while we were buried in babies, so I’m very happy that he’s back at it once again.

Best wishes to all of those running- and those that run everywhere every day. I’ll be tweeting using the hashtag #ParisMarathon41170 (his bib number) and using it on Instagram over the weekend @Momofthreeunder.

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