How the marathon distance came about

Running a distance of 42 kilometers 195 meters is called a marathon. Let's grab this end of the thread. Where will she lead us?

The Persians tried several times to subjugate Greece. In 490 BC, they loaded 10 thousand infantrymen on 600 triremes, the same number of horsemen with horses and sailed to Greece.

The fleet safely crossed the Aegean Sea. The troops landed near the town of Marathon on a small plain surrounded by mountains and the sea. Before Athens there was only one transition, and the first blow of the conquerors was to fall on this city.

With ten thousand infantrymen, the Athenian general Miltiades hastened to meet the Persians. Miltiades knew the tactics of the Persians well. He placed his troops near the Athenian road in a narrow outlet from the valley. Greek hoplites - warriors with heavy spears and shields - in a closed formation - with a phalanx - blocked a kilometer space between the mountain slopes.

For three days and three nights the Persians and the Greeks stood facing each other. The Greeks did not want to change the advantageous position, moreover, the Spartans were in a hurry to help them. The Persians hoped in vain to lure the enemy into the plain, where the cavalry could operate. Reasoning that the arrival of the Spartans would only strengthen the enemy, they launched an offensive. When the Persians approached the Greeks one hundred or one hundred and fifty paces and began to shower them with a hail of arrows and stones, Miltiades ordered his soldiers to start moving.

The closed mass of hoplites, maintaining alignment in ranks and ranks, moved forward. The first rank, connecting the shields, was like a wall, behind which the second rank, the third, the fourth, prepared for a blow with long spears. At first, the warriors walked at a brisk pace, then ran to quickly pass the place struck by arrows and gain momentum to strike.

The blow of the hoplites was terrible. The first crowds of Persians were knocked to the ground. However, the new warriors began to press the Greeks, the middle of the phalanx caved in. But then both edges of the Greek system moved forward and squeezed the enemy like pincers. The Persians could not stand it, they ran to the ships.

While the phalanx was busy rebuilding, the Persians boarded ships and sailed away. The Greeks still captured seven ships. And in the attack they put out of action six and a half thousand Persians, they themselves lost only 192 soldiers killed.

Where were the allies of the Athenians at this time? For three days, the Spartans with heavy weapons covered 200 kilometers, but did not have time to fight.

Miltiades sent a messenger named Philippides to Athens with the news of the victory. According to legend, the distance from Marathon to Athens was 42 kilometers 195 meters. In memory of the warrior who conveyed the good news, athletes began to call this distance a marathon.

Interestingly, the International Olympic Committee in 1896 measured the actual distance from the Marathon battlefield to Athens; it turned out to be 34.5 km. At the first Modern Games in 1896 and at the 2004 Games, the marathon really took place along the distance from the Marathon to Athens. Subsequently, the length of the marathon distance varied from year to year between 40 and 42 kilodometers until the length of 42, 195 km was established in 1921 by the International Athletics Federation (IAAF) as the official length of the marathon.