How did the Marathon Start? A Run Through History

The marathon is a long-distance race with an official distance of 42.195 kilometers (26.2 miles), usually run as a road race. But have you ever wondered how did the marathon start? The origins of the marathon race date back to ancient Greek times, specifically to a messenger named Pheidippides who ran from the city of Marathon to Athens in 490 BC. This article is a run through history, exploring the origins of the marathon, how it evolved, and what it means today.

The Legend of Pheidippides

The story of how the marathon began is rooted in Greek mythology. According to legend, Pheidippides was a professional runner and a messenger who was sent from the city of Marathon to Athens to deliver news of the Athenian victory over the Persians in the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC. The distance he had to cover from Marathon to Athens was about 42 kilometers (26 miles). He ran non-stop and delivered the message before collapsing and dying from exhaustion.

The First Modern Olympic Games

The modern marathon race was inspired by the ancient Greek legend of Pheidippides. The first modern Olympic games were held in Athens in 1896, and one of the organizers suggested that a race be held from the town of Marathon to the Olympic Stadium in Athens to honor the legendary runner.

The Evolution of the Marathon

Since the first modern Olympic Games, the marathon has become one of the most popular long-distance running events in the world. It has also evolved in many ways, from the inclusion of women runners to the development of new training methods and technologies.

Women in the Marathon

While men’s marathon was included in the first modern Olympic Games, women’s inclusion began much later. Women were first allowed to run marathons in the Olympics in 1984, and since then, the sport has seen many notable achievements from female runners. In fact, some of the most dominant runners in the history of the marathon have been women.

Training for the Marathon

Training for a marathon is a painstaking process that requires discipline and dedication. Runners must carefully balance their training with rest and recovery, while also paying attention to nutrition and hydration. There are many different training methods and philosophies, but most experts agree that consistency and gradual increases in mileage are the keys to success.

The Importance of Hydration and Nutrition

Hydration and nutrition are crucial to marathon runners, especially during training and the actual race. Proper hydration helps runners avoid dehydration, which can lead to fatigue, cramping, and other issues. Good nutrition helps runners maintain energy levels during long runs and replenish lost nutrients after workouts. Many runners rely on sports drinks and energy gels to help maintain their energy levels during races.

The Future of the Marathon

The marathon has come a long way since its origins in ancient Greece, and it continues to evolve and grow in popularity around the world. The future of the marathon is likely to involve new technologies, new training methods, and new milestones and achievements.

Technological Advances in Running

As technology continues to advance, runners are likely to see new gadgets and tools that can help them train more effectively and race more competitively. Some of the most promising new technologies include smart watches and other wearable devices that can monitor heart rate, pace, and other important data.

The Pursuit of New Records and Milestones

While the marathon will always be a grueling and demanding event, many runners continue to push the limits of what is possible in the sport. New records and milestones are constantly being pursued, and there is no telling how far the sport may evolve in the coming years.


The story of how the marathon started is rooted in Greek mythology, but the modern marathon has become much more than just a legend. It is a symbol of resilience, perseverance, and human achievement. While the sport continues to evolve and grow in popularity, its basic essence remains the same – an epic challenge that tests the limits of human endurance.

Unordered List of Common Questions About Marathons:

  • What is a marathon?
  • How long is a marathon?
  • Why is the marathon called a marathon?
  • Who was Pheidippides?
  • What is the history of the marathon?
  • What is the fastest time ever recorded for a marathon?
  • How do you train for a marathon?
  • What kind of nutrition and hydration is necessary for marathon runners?
  • How has the marathon evolved in recent years?
  • What is the future of the marathon?



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