The historical inspiration
The Marathon Race, in ancient times, did not exist as a sport, nor was any similar race. French philosopher Michel Breal had the idea to establish it and he persuaded his friend Pierre de Couberder, Secretary General of the French Sports Clubs, to include it in the schedule of the First Olympic Games in Athens, at the end of the 19th century.
The Marathon Race took its name from the historic route of the Athenian soldier and messenger Feidippides. When the Athenians learned of the Persians’ landing, Marathon Battle 490 BC, they sent Feidippides to seek help from the Spartans. Pheidippides traveled the distance from Athens to Sparta (220 kilometers) in two days, and then he took the road back to take part in the battle.
After the battle finished, Feidippides ran again from the battlefield to Athens to convey the news of the Greek victory over the Persians. At the end of the ride with the cry “Nenikamen” he let out his last breath, exhausted.
The first marathon race
The first Marathon race took place on March 10, 1896, during the Athletics’ First Panhellenic Games and was a qualifying event for the Athens Olympics.
A few days later, on March 29, the legendary Spyros Louis got the rematch, winning the first Marathon of the Olympic Games with a performance of 2 hours, 58 minutes and 50 seconds.
Since then, marathon has been steadily gaining in popularity and today is one of the most popular track and field sports. The Street Marathon Games are held not only in the context of major sporting events, but also individually, with the mass participation of thousands of athletes in an atmosphere of celebration and emotion (Boston Marathon, London, Athens, etc.).
The marathon in modern times
Official national or world records are not recognized by IAAF because the race took place in different soil conditions on a public paved road. The best performance in men has been recorded by the Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge with 2 hours, 3 minutes and 39 seconds (September 16, 2018), while in women the performance of the Kenyan Brigid Kosgei with 2 hours, 14 minutes and 4 seconds (October 13, 2019). Greek records are held by Spyros Andriopoulos (APS Patrai) with 2: 12.04 (October 9, 1988) and Maria Polyzou (Panhellenic General Assembly) with 2: 33.40 (August 23, 1998).
The first international marathon on the classic route took place on October 2, 1955, although the decision dates back to 1938. The race was attended by 21 athletes (12 Greeks, 4 Egyptians, 2 Yugoslavs and an Italian, German and Finnish) and The winner was the Finn Veiko Carvonen with 2:27:30.