The history of the Chicago Marathon
The modern marathon was inspired by the run of the soldier Pheidippides from a battlefield near the town of Marathon, Greece to Athens in 490 B.C. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, the badly outnumbered Greeks had managed to defeat the invading Persians, and a messenger was sent running approximately 25 miles to the Acropolis in Athens to deliver the good news. Pheidippides delivered his message of “Nike!” (Victory!) then collapsed from exhaustion on the spot and died.
“The first marathon was run in 1896, significantly at the first modern Olympics,” says the National Hellenic Museum’s Resident Scholar, Dr. Katherine Kelaidis. “The creation of both the modern marathon and the modern Olympics demonstrate Neo-Classical and Romantic fascination with Ancient Greece and the deep desire many in the 18th and 19th centuries had to revive and recreate the Classical world.”
Learn more about the marathon and why it is now 26.2 miles in this article from the History channel.