Link #133: Pheidippides Ran 240 Km In Two Days!


Statue of Pheidippides along the Marathon Road.

Greece is located in a region where there has always been some sort of conflict or dispute. In our last post, we spoke about the city of Varosha which has been turned into a ghost resort town because of the conflict between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

However, these conflicts haven’t always been negative for the region. Many of these conflicts allowed the Greek to achieve heroic things. Take for example the story of Pheidippides who ran almost 250 kilometres in a matter of two days.

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How Much Did Pheidippides Run?


Pheidipiddes is considered to be a Greek hero because he ran 240 kilometres in a matter of less than two days. Not only this, after he had run 240 kilometres, Pheidipiddes actually fought a battle. While that is something that will finish off most people, Pheidipiddes wasn’t done.

After fighting the battle, Pheidipiddes ran another 40 kilometres just so he can deliver news of what happened in the battle. In fact, legends suggest that Pheidipiddes’s last run was nonstop and in peak summer!

Why Did Pheidippides Run So Much?


You’re most probably wondering why a man would run 240 kilometres before a battle and then run 40 kilometres after it. After all, most people would prefer to rest both, before and after the battle. The first rest is for maximising their performance in the battle and the second because they’ve given the battle their all.

However, Pheidipiddes was asked to run those distances by his superiors because the Persians were invading through Marathon. His first run was from Athens to Sparta so that he could ask for help from the Spartans on behalf of the Athenians. Going to and coming back from Sparta amounted to 240 kilometres and Pheidipiddes achieved it in less than two days.

This means that he didn’t rest much at Sparta in the middle. Unfortunately, Pheidipiddes didn’t get the right response from the Spartans whose laws prevented them from joining battle for a certain period of time. So, Pheidipiddes ran back and joined battle with the other Athenians.

Through daring tactics, the Athenians managed to defeat the Persians. At this time, their general asked Pheidipiddes to run to Athens and deliver the news of their victory. Pheidipiddes agreed and ran nonstop all the way to Athens from the battlefield of Marathon through mountainous and very difficult terrain.

Are Modern Marathon Races Connected To Pheidipiddes?

1896 Olympic marathon

After Pheidipiddes reached Athens, he announced the victory and fell over to pass away. Pheidipiddes death was a result of fatigue which had accumulated over the last few days.

When the modern Olympics were being organised in 1896 in Athens, it was suggested that long races be included at the Olympics to honour Pheidipiddes. Their goal was to find an event that would popularise the Olympics since it was being held in Greece.

Since Pheidipiddes’s last run was from Marathon to Athens, the organisers decided to name the event Marathon. Moreover, the distance of the long race was also decided on the basis of the distance between Marathon and Greece.

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