Monday, July 19, 2010

Run, Pheidippides, Run!

I'm going to put on my classicist hat for blogging today and say that I can't BELIEVE I haven't realized next week is the 2500th anniversary of the Battle of Marathon (490 B.C.)! I'm serious, I can't. Today Reuters has a news story about two Greek long-distance runners who plan to recreate one version of the Marathon legend: that Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Sparta (where he couldn't get help), back to Marathon, and *then* from Marathon to Athens. (The modern marathon race was inspired by the Marathon-Athens leg of Pheidippides' trek. p.s. He died.) Maria Polyzou and Panayiotis Skoulis will run the 325 miles from Athens to Sparta to Marathon in six days' time, from July 26th to August 1st. The route begins at the Akropolis and ends at the Tomb of the Marathonomachoi (Athenian dead at Marathon, who received hero-cult in the Classical period). Polyzou has not only run marathons for 23 years, she's also director of the Marathon Museum and trumpets the historical significance of the anniversary. Apparently this run will be like a double marathon every day for a week, and apparently Skoulis has done it before (!!). Celebrations in Greece will continue and will culminate in the Athens Marathon on October 31st, which is expected to have about 20,000 participants this year.

Shout-out to my sister and brother-in-law, themselves marathon runners, who plan to take on the Disney Marathon (again) in January 2011. Being closer to a library cat than a cheetah, I won't be joining them. But I may have to re-read Aischylos' Persians next week for the anniversary...