(Greece) – It’s because of the heroics of Pheidippides during the First Persian Invasion that began on 492 BC that the modern marathon race exists. At 26.2 miles, the length of a traditional marathon is the same as the distance between Athens, Greece and Marathon, Greece. After Pheidippides delivered the message that the Greeks had won the Battle of Marathon, which was fought in 490 BC, he died honorably. After the Greek victory had been decided, the Persians left Greece and didn’t make another (unsuccessful) attempt to invade Greece again for another ten years.
However, people have realized that he ran much more than the approximate 26 miles during that war. Much more accurately, it is said that he ran upwards of 246 kilometers. To honor his heroics and ultimate sacrifice, runners from all over the world gather to run the Spartathlon – a 246 kilometer, or around 152 mile, journey from Athens to Sparta.
Pheidippides initially began his journey by running from Athens to Sparta to get Sparta to assist Athens in fighting off the Persians. Pheidippides, however, was unsuccessful at getting them to join. Since the Spartans were in the middle of a religious festival, they said they wouldn’t be able to fight until it was over. By then, the First Persian Invasion was pretty much over and the Persians were headed home.
The race began in Athens at the Acropolis yesterday on September 30, 2016 and the winner of the race is expected to cross the finish line sometime this morning in Sparta. There are about 380 runners, both male and female, competing in the event this year. This year’s race will be just as challenging as in year’s past. However, the weather will be much hotter this year than it had been – temperatures are expected to reach 30 degrees Celsius, or 86 degrees Fahrenheit. This race not only attracts runners from all over Greece, but from countries throughout the world. Aside from being an intense physical challenge, the competitors love using their athleticism to commemorate such an historic event.