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The marathon is a long-distance running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres (26 miles and 385 yards),[1] that is usually run as a road race. The event was instituted in commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon (the namesake of the race) to Athens.

The marathon was one of the original modern Olympic events in 1896, though the distance did not become standardized until 1921. More than 500 marathons are contested throughout the world each year, with the vast majority of competitors being recreational athletes. Larger marathons can have tens of thousands of participants.[2]




The name Marathon comes from the legend of Pheidippides, a Greek messenger. The legend states that he was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon (in which he had just fought),[3] which took place in August or September, 490 BC.[4] It is said that he ran the entire distance without stopping and burst into the assembly, exclaiming "Νενικήκαμεν" (Nenikékamen, 'We have won.') before collapsing and dying.[5] The account of the run from Marathon to Athens first appears in Plutarch's On the Glory of Athens in the 1st century AD which quotes from Heraclides Ponticus's lost work, giving the runner's name as either Thersipus of Erchius or Eucles.[6] Lucian of Samosata (2nd century AD) also gives the story but names the runner Philippides (not Pheidippides).[7]

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