Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Well I wasn't sure what to do for this image then decided to go back to the start of racing. This was a race against time rather than another person but it is often cited as the inspiration for the modern marathon. For those who don't know it here's the story (well one version anyway)
In 490 B.C., the Persians landed a large force just outside of Athens on the plains of Marathon and prepared for attack.
The Athenians, who were massively outnumbered needed the help of Sparta so the Athenian generals send Phidippides (or Philippides) a professional runner to Sparta to ask for help. This was 140 miles away over rough and mountainous terrain and Phidippides apparently ran the course in about 36 hours. Sparta agreed to help but due to some strange religious laws’ which involved having to wait for a full moon couldn't go immediately so Phidippides ran back to Athens (another 140 miles!) with the bad news.
Before the Spartans arrive the battle started and though outnumbered 4 to 1 with the help of some clever tactics and some crafty moves the Athenians won. However the remaining Persian army set off hoping to attack Athens itself.
Then generals decided someone would have to beat them to Athens to tell them of the victory and the impending attack.
Now Phidippides While good at running was apparently not too good at hiding and so already exhausted from 2 long runs and a lot of hard fighting in the battle was again chosen to go for a run this time a mere 26 miles back to Athens. He set off (no doubt mumbling under his breath ‘am I the only person in this bloody army who can run’ or some ancient Greek equivalent) He managed to get there in 3 hours, delivered his message and then died from exhaustion.
In some versions of the story he survived (though I'd like to think he hung up his running sandals)
I originally depicted him with his helmet and shield as he sometimes is traditionally. This makes for a more dramatic image but didn't really make sense to me, those things must have weighed a ton and not the thing to have strapped to your back on a 140 mile (or 280 mile if you count the return journey) run! I left the helmet on for effect as its the thing to me that most identifies an ancient Greek solider but even that is a dubious thing to go running in :)