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Basic Information

A long-distance running sports event. It was inspired by the legend of Pheidippides, a Greek messenger who ran 42 km (about 26 miles) from the Battle of Marathon to Athens, carrying word of the Greek victory against the Persians. According to the legend, he collapsed and died after telling his message.

When the first modern Olympic Games were founded in 1896, the organizers decided to recreate this legend in a long-distance race, starting, appropriately enough, in Marathon, ending in an Athenian stadium which has, with several rebuilds, been in intermittent use since 330BC. Apparently the annual Athens marathon follows the same route and the race was re-run very publicly during the 2004 Athens Olympics. Since then, many cities around the world have established their own annual marathons. Two of the most famous ones are the New York City Marathon and the Boston Marathon. The London marathon is also far from insignificant internationally.



Game and Story Use

  • Fantasy cultures, especially those who have not tamed any horses or similar beasts of burden, might have a long-distance messenger system using runners as relays.
    • the Incas and several of the tribes of Plains Indians were particularly well known for their dispatch runners.
  • For fantasy religions, running long distances might be regarded as a "sacred pilgrimage".
  • A modern-day marathon race, with its large crush of runners and spectators, would make a colorful set-piece in an espionage game.
    • "Your contact will be one of the runners; number 432. Be waiting at the corner of 25th street with a bottle of water and he'll pass you the microfilm as he goes by."
    • In cities without a large population of plastic Irish a marathon could be an effective substitute for the inevitable St Patrick's Day parade that anyone involved in a foot chase through New York can take cover in according to Hollywood (or the carnival in Rio, Mardi Gras in New Orleans etc.).
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