P. J. Christman
© 2015 42K(+) Press, Inc.
The marathon: a magic distance and event, one that requires ambition, planning, determination, courage, persistence, stamina, and endurance, all traits the Greek messenger Pheidippides was required to possess for his clarion journey.
For it was Pheidippides’s feat of running from Marathon to exhaustion and death in Athens, in order to announce nothing more than victory, that inspired the subsequent formal Olympic event. At the end of the 19th century, a modern-day race was designed to commemorate the approximate 25-mile distance he was thought to have run.
We can thank King Edward VII of England for the event’s current 26.2-mile or 42.195-kilometer Olympic distance. For when His Majesty gave permission for the start of the 1908 Olympic Marathon to be upon the East Lawn of Windsor Castle, the race to finish with one lap inside London’s White City Stadium, the Olympic marathon distance was increased from 24.85 miles to its present distance.
These popular contests on foot are thought to be among the planet’s more testing endeavors. For those of all abilities up to the challenge, it takes somewhere between two and six hours to complete. Many fail to finish. Others end up hitting “the Wall” where glycogen has run out and the muscles can no longer sustain pedestrian movement of even the most awkward or staggering nature.
Of course there are other, arguably more difficult challenges such as climbing Mount Everest, swimming the English Channel, hiking across the Sahara Desert, biking the Tour de France, or completing Ironman triathlons. These endeavors create their own cachet through difficult requirements involving the overcoming of great mental and physical barriers.
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