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  1. Accessibility links
  2. In the Footsteps of Pheidippides – Dateline: Atlantis
  3. Oct. 26: The Truth about Pheidippides and the Early Years of Marathon History

Prices vary from to 2 shillings, depending on the season and whether they regard you as a tourist with money to burn. A few kilometres into the race.

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I passed him on the downhill part and made sure I crossed the finishing line before him. I remember the crowd on the pavilion was eerily quiet when I sprinted across the finishing line how dare you!!! Just kidding about the crowd. And the sprinting part. But they did erupt when the old man shuffled past them on the way to the finishing line a few minutes behind me. Turned out he is a celebrity in his own right as the oldest participant in the race.

I have forgotten just how old and skinny he is. His frail, bony body was bent over forward to the point where I feared his head might be hitting the ground every now and again.

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Indeed Mzee, I thought. About six thousand of us, all enjoying the moment in our own personal way, each chasing our own personal targets. But today we are in it together. Tuko pamoja.

In the Footsteps of Pheidippides – Dateline: Atlantis

Christine bringing the photographer much needed water! Later in the tent with a beer in my hand, we calculated that, while we were struggling to maintain seven and a half minutes per kilometre, they were passing us at three minutes and fifteen seconds a kilo. It is then, when you are close up and personal to these elite runners that you can truly appreciate just how good they are.

For some reason the semi final between Nadal and Federer in the Australian open came to mind. After beating Federer, Nadal must have thought it was all the way down hill from there on, before eighth seeded Stan Wrawrinka stopped him in his tracs. And so I thought too. Downhill all the way to the finishing line.

That was refreshing! Now downhill, all the way to the finishing line the brochure promised. Every now and again Christine warned me to check my speed on the downhill. I shuddered to think what their feet looked like inside those boots. The smallest uphill turned into a mountain.

Up to then we were maintaining our targeted our downhill pace of seven, to seven and a half minute per kilometre uphill. The last three kilometres needed about ten minutes each. We walked most of the last kilometre but on entering the sports grounds, we started running the last few hundred meters. After two hours and forty-three minutes we crossed the finishing line, holding hands. We did it! We got ushered into a narrow passage and collected a small carry bag with a T-shirt and our medal. Scattered all over the big marquee, tired bodies who finished before us, were rehydrating themselves.

We were greeted and congratulated like heroes but nobody bothered to get up from their seats. And then, less than a half an hour later, the crowds in the pavilion and around the sports grounds erupted as the old man shuffled past us on his way to the finishing line.

Phidippides Run 2016 Official Trailer

About two hours later we made our way back to the car, clapping loudly for- and encouraging the last of the runners making their way oh so slowly to the sports grounds and the finishing line. As in… Think Basson, what did you do with the car keys, where did you leave your glasses. Think, think! I also think I am getting too old for all of this. Anyone for a game of tiddlywinks? Oh darn, where did I put the tiddlywinks?

Think Basson, think! Deborah Wilkinson said:. March 9, at pm.

Herodotus , however, relates that a trained runner, Pheidippides also spelled Phidippides, or Philippides , was sent from Athens to Sparta before the battle in order to request assistance from the Spartans; he is said to have covered about miles km in about two days. You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security. Battle of Marathon. Article Media. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. See Article History. As it turned out, however, the status quo worked in my favour. Much of the cordoned-off route consisted of glistening, freshly laid tarmac, along which I was able to run, protected from traffic by the barrier of yellow netting.

It was early enough in the morning that there were few workmen about, and those I did see proved surprisingly uninquisitive. As everyone knows, Greece was the birthplace of the Olympics; the first recorded Games took place in BC. The Ancient Athenians nurtured an ideal of manhood that embraced athleticism as well as intelligence. Achilles, the best of the Greek fighters at Troy, is referred to throughout the Iliad as "swift-footed" - his constant epithet drawing attention not to his prowess as a warrior, but to his speed as a runner.

Plato's Symposium recommends relationships between the brainy and the beautiful a characteristic that included athletic excellence. I tried to remember this during the middle stretch, when my enthusiasm was starting to ebb. I had passed through Nea Makri, a nondescript coastal sprawl, and turned towards Athens.

Oct. 26: The Truth about Pheidippides and the Early Years of Marathon History

The sun was hot on the back of my neck. Because I was running away from the sea, the road was uphill. I had the taste of dust in my mouth and the smell of tar in my nostrils. From time to time, my mood was lightened by the sight of poppies by the roadside.

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For the most part, though, the route was skirted by low concrete dwellings. It was hard to know when I had entered Athens proper - hard, therefore, to have much of an idea of how far I had still to go. During training, I'd taken comfort from the thought that Pheidippides only ran 25 miles, that being the distance between the battlefield and the city.

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I was under no obligation to go any further. When, after a hiatus of a millennium and a half, the Olympic Games were resuscitated in , and the idea of a marathon race invented, the course was naturally set at 25 miles. It wasn't until 12 years later, for the London Olympics of , that it was extended to 26 miles and yards, the distance between Windsor Castle, where the race would start, and White City stadium, where it was due to finish.

I would have done better if I had set off from the Tomb of Marathon, where the Greek dead were reputedly buried. Maybe it was the early start, but it was only as I was running through the Athenian suburbs that this dawned on me: by beginning my run from Marathon town, I had committed myself to the full 42km Olympic course or more, since I had resolved not to stop until I reached the walls of the Acropolis. The last few miles - past the jagged futurist sculpture in front of the Hilton, past the Panathenaic Stadium and the Olympic flame - were pretty hellish.

I run slowly at the best of times but by the end, it would have been hard for an onlooker to be certain I was moving at all. My legs were dead wood. The pavement was thronged with tourists, all apparently intent on getting in my way. The gentle slope up to the Acropolis walls came on like a serious test of character. I'll keep my final time to myself, if that's all right.