The modern world would have been boring if not for the knowledge left behind by the Ancient people. From eye makeup to democracy and even the Olympics, many modern inventions have their origin in the ancient world. One of such modern creations is the marathon - a long-distance race that has its origins in the story of a run that brought the news of the first Greek defeat of the Persians to the Athenians.

The Origin Of Marathon

The Ancient Greek world was a time in human history that was characterized by war. From the Titanomachy to the battle of Thermopylae, and the Battle of Troy, Greece was always at war. The Battle of Marathon; one of such great battles was the inspiration for the creation of the thrilling sporting event now known as Marathon.


It all started in 490 BC; a time when the Persians during the rule of Darius began their conquest of dominating Greece. The war had been brought to the Athenians who (together with the Eretrians) had gotten involved in the military rebellion against Persian rule in parts of Greece. The Persian army succeeded in crushing Eretria but eventually met their end in the hands of the Athenians.

After the devastating defeat of the Persians at the Battle of Marathon, Pheidippides - an Athenian messenger and exceptional runner, was sent to deliver the message of the Athenian victory to the people of Athens from the battlefield at Marathon which was approximately 25 miles from Athens. Pheidippides was said to have run the entire length, delivered the victorious message before he collapsed, and gave up the ghost on the spot.

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Development Of The Marathon Race

Whether it is to hunt or flee from advancing armies, humans have always engaged in long-distance running since the ancient period but it was not until the 19th century that an organized long-distance race was created to be part of the Olympics - a Quadrennial sporting event that was first recorded to have been held in Ancient Greece in 776 B.C.

Pierre de Coubertin, a historian, had begun making efforts to revive the Olympic games in the 1890s. After successfully forming the International Olympic Committee, an idea came from the committee - to create a long racing event that would commemorate the legendary feat of Pheidippides. The idea was eventually accepted, thereby leading to the creation of Marathon. The first Marathon was eventually held during the first Modern Olympics event which took place in Athens in 1896.

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The aftermath of the Creation Of The Marathon Race

The creation of the marathon marked a turning point in the history of athletics and the sport of racing. The idea of such a long and thrilling race quickly spread to all parts of the world after the first marathon took place in the 1896 Olympics. Its origin in Ancient Greek history can be said to have even made it more inspiring and besides, it is a way to test the strength of an Athlete.

As early as the following year after the first marathon at the 1896 Olympics, the Boston Athletics Association organized the Boston Marathon which is now known as the world’s oldest annual marathon event having been held since 1897. As the years went by, the marathon grew in popularity and is now one of the most attended racing events in the world which take place in almost all the countries on the planet.

The 26.2 Miles Distance Implementation

Even though the marathon today has its origin in the history of the legendary messenger, its distance has slightly changed. The distance of the first marathon held in the 1896 Olympics was placed at approximately 25 miles - the actual distance Pheidippides was believed to have covered. This distance saw some little changes during the following years but it was not until the 1908 Olympics that it was extended and placed at 26.2 miles. This extension was said to have been made to give all the British Royals a chance to witness the event from their castle. This new 26.2 miles distance became the adopted length of the Marathon afterward but it was not until 1921 that it was set as the official distance for the marathon.

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Where To Find The Best Marathon Events

With the increased popularity of this thrilling sport, lots of marathon events have sprung up from all parts of the world and these are some of the most thrilling ones to include on your bucket list.

The World's Largest Marathons

There are six marathons that represent the largest in the world and they include;

  • The Boston Marathon: The oldest marathon in the world is held annually in April. The date for the next event is April 18, 2022
  • The Tokyo Marathon: The largest marathon event in Asia. The 2021 Tokyo Marathon was postponed to March 2022.
  • London Marathon: The largest running event in the UK which now takes place in October. The date for the next event is October 2, 2022
  • Berlin Marathon: The largest marathon in Germany is usually held in September. The next date for the event is September 25, 2022
  • Chicago Marathon: One of the largest marathons in the world is held annually in October. The next event is scheduled for October 9, 2022
  • New York City Marathon: The largest marathon in the world held annually in November. The date for the next event is November 6, 2022.

More Thrilling Marathons Worth Attending

Those who want to skip the huge crowd and embrace some thrill can attend these unique marathons around the world;

  • The Midnight Sun Marathon: The name is a perfect definition for this marathon which is usually held in Tromsø, Norway during the period of the midnight sun in June. While other marathon events are held during the day, the midnight sun marathon begins at night so runners can have the chance to see the gorgeous midnight sun. The date for the next Midnight sun marathon is June 18, 2022.
  • The Edinburg Marathon: Enjoy amazing views of the gorgeous landscape of Scotland at the annual Edinburgh marathon. The date for the next event is May 29, 2022.
  • Islandsbanki Reykjavik Marathon: This marathon offers the opportunity to witness first-hand, the amazing views of the beautiful capital city of Iceland. Those competing for the prize will find it difficult to look away from the beautiful snow-capped mountains and the vast volcanic landscape.

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