Ancient Olympic Fun Fact 20

2012 is significant in that it is a presidential election year, a leap year, and a summer Olympic year! The modern Olympics, of course, were inspired by the ancient Greek Olympics, a subject I’ve been researching for my work in progress. So in these months leading up to the 2012 London Games, I’ll be posting weekly tidbits about the original athletic festival that started it all.

Here’s this week’s fun fact:

The marathon was not an ancient Olympic event.

The marathon is actually a modern sport. Although the ancients honored Phidippides, the messenger who made the memorable run between Marathon and Athens before dropping dead, they didn’t actually re-create his feat. The longest race at the ancient games was the dolichos, which consisted of ten or twelve double laps on a 600-foot track.

Still, that didn’t deter my runner husband from running his own personal marathon when we visited Olympia. He spent a day racing around the Olympic archaeological site (to the cheers of German tourists) until he’d racked up 26.2 miles (as measured by his GPS distance logger).

Tune in next week for more about the ancient Olympics!

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