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[RC] The REAL history of the marathon - Barbara Goldthorpe

Okay, I gotta clear this up.  The history of the marathon stems back to legend that Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens, cried, "Rejoice, we conquer!" and fell down dead.  This run was documented 600 years after the Persians invaded the plain of Marathon with intent to enslave the city of Athens.  The Athenians sent Philippides the messenger to Sparta to call for aid (150 miles total).  He managed this in less than 2 days.  One account of this part of Greek history claims that Philippides also made the run from Marathon to Athens and then dropped dead.  However, this seems unlikely after running to Sparta.  Additionally, accounts of the battle documented close to the time it actually occurred did not note the runner at all.  It was corroborated by Greek historians 6 centuries after the actual event.  If it even happened at all, it was certainly not Philippides.  Later on, Philippides' name became Pheidippides and Robert Browning continued the legend by writing about it in his Dramatic Idylls in the 19th century. 
When the Olympics were reinstated in 1896, a Frenchman named Breal decided to add the Marathon to the Olympics as a final event.  The distance at that point was not official, and when it was run for the first few Olympic games, it fluctuated.  It was finally determined as 26.2 miles, and has remained that.
Don't know much about endurance riding, but I do know about running (and some really cool martial arts stuff too!)

Barbara Goldthorpe
The air of heaven is that which blows between a horse`s ears.
~  Arabian Proverb