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N.S. Gill

Possibly On This Day - Pheidippides and the Marathon to Sparta

By September 2, 2012

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Map of MarathonToday is another traditional date for the original Marathon -- the run of Pheidippides. The Rogue Classicist has a page of correspondence on this event. Unlike the traditional story that Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens to tell of the victory at the historical Battle of Marathon, in this version -- based on Herodotus, the runner ran to Sparta before the Battle of Marathon to ask for help:
    "The story is probably a confused version of the even more astounding run that Herodotus tells us Phidippides completed from Athens to Sparta just before the battle. He went to seek Spartan aid and took 2 days to run the 145 miles between the two cities -- an impressive, but not unbelievable feat (Hdt. 6.105-6)" -Posted by Nigel Kennell

Map Photo © Clipart.com

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March 9, 2007 at 11:13 am
(1) George Webb says:

According to the legend, Phidippides was a professional runner and messenger. In a time when the only method of sending urgent messages was by runner, a 140 mile run over two days is both believable and reasonable. Top modern ultra-marathoners run 100 mile races in roughly 20 hours. For a top runner a 7:30 mile (8 miles/hour) is a relaxed loping pace, equating to 17.5 hours of running and 30.5 hours of rest to complete a 140 mile run in 48 hours.

The Spartathon, a race from Athens to Sparta, has been held every year since 1983. The winning times are under 26 hours. The record for this race is 20:25 and is held by a Greek, Yannis Kouros. In 2005 Kouros completed the loop from Athens to Sparta to Athens in 54 hours.

September 1, 2011 at 7:20 am
(2) Irene Ruiz says:

The traditional story relates that Pheidippides, an Athenian herald, ran the 42 km (26 miles) from the battlefield by the town of Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory over Persia in the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) with the word “Νενικήκαμεν!” (Nenikékamen, We were victorious!) and died on the spot. Most accounts incorrectly attribute this story to the historian Herodotus, who wrote the history of the Persian Wars in his Histories (composed about 440 B.C.).

October 4, 2011 at 7:40 am
(3) Dennis the Menace says:

NO!!! Phidippides died because he ran to Sparta (2 days before) to ask for help, returned to Athens, went to and fought in Marathon and – finally – ran from Marathon to Athens to bring the news !!!

October 24, 2013 at 1:33 pm
(4) Rosa says:

actually there were 11,000 Greeks and 120,000 persians

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