As we are jointly going to make the unique Kenya Wildlife Marathon happen, we also made it to our responsibility to educate our dear online audience about the trails leading back in time, discovering the origins of this beautiful running tradition. What made people run a marathon?
It all started back in 490 B.C. when the modern Athens Marathon was born. That day, a soldier named Pheidippides ran from a battlefield close to the town of Marathon (Greece) to Athens. According to the legend, Pheidippides arrived in Athens, delivered the message of "Victory!" ("Niki!") and died after having collapsed. The tradition was started in order to commemorate Pheidippides' heroic feat.
The Athens Marathon track, which was used in the 2004 Olympics held in Athens, is exactly the course Pheidippides ran in 490 B.C. In fact, the first modern Olympic Games were held in Greece in 1896. A run from the Marathon Bridge to the Olympic stadium in Athens which illustrates a route of 40km (24.85 miles) honors Pheidippides' legend.
That's also the reason for the finish line of the Athens Marathon being positioned on the site of a stadium used in classic times. Spiridon Louis, a Greek postal worker, was the first one to win this marathon. 2h/58min/50s was his first-place time!
Now, you may ask your self: "Hey, the actual marathon distance is 26.2miles, respectively 42km, isn't it?"
The 1908 Olympic Games where held in London. It has been decided to change the distance into 26.6miles due to the fact that it could not have finished right in front of the royal family's viewing box. The track started at the Windsor Castle and extended over a distance of 26.2miles up to this viewing box which was located in the White City Stadium.
You may also have heard that it is a Marathon tradition to shout nice words relating to the Queen as for instance, "Good save the Queen" when mile 24 is passed; that originated in London as well.
Isn't it fantastic that more than 2500 years later, this tradition is still kept and even honored in the most scenic spots of this quaint world! We, the Kenya Wildlife Marathon Team 2015, are amazed by it! We hope you just enjoy it as much.