History of running and the marathon

24 November, 2012   Felicia Quick

History of running and the human marathon

There have been many forms of long distance races recorded throughout history. Some of these have quite literally taken place since the beginning of time.
So what exactly is the allure that modern day Marathons hold, attracting thousands every year all around the globe, to have athletes and amateur runners train and push themselves to extreme distances? Is it the prize money, the goodies, the sights and sounds, or the simple curiosity of human will and strength?
How far can you go?
By historic terms it all snowballed into what is today based on the mythical tale of Pheidippides, a professional messenger who ran from Marathons to Athens during 490 B.C. It was said that after running to proclaim the victory of the Greeks, Pheidippides dropped dead upon delivery.
Other versions of the story claimed that he ran to ask for help, clocking in an appalling distance of 240km from Athens to Sparta. But such long distances were no surprise to people in those days, where the only means of transport and survival was by foot.
But as human technology evolved, the way of life did too. The first modern day marathon was ran over a distance of 40km in Athens one month before the very first resurrection of the Olympic race in 1896 at a Greek championship.
The Marathon’s Evolution
In modern day Marathons all around the globe, sportsmen have taken it upon themselves and adapted it into a sport where the fastest would compete for prize money. In The London Marathon each year, amateur runners make up the bulk of participants, making it one of the world’s most interesting marathons, with people dressed in fancy costumes and even running for a charitable cause.
But in Singapore, it seems like increasingly more and more people are taking up running as a hobby, surprisingly enough. I guess in the hectic city of Singapore, flying solo from time to time out in the vegetation in and around MacRitchie Reservoir or at the closest gym during lunchtime in the Central Business District could serve as a breather.
Nonetheless, most Singaporeans are beginning to enjoy this mentally and physically challenging sport, giving our future of not becoming a highly obese society a little more hope.
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Evidently, the popularity of this sport has nothing to do with any history but judging by recent statistics, we have not let our ancestors down by returning to our roots. In 2007, the Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon saw 12,000 runners participating and 4 years later in 2011 the numbers hit a staggering 65,000, making it the largest marathon in Singapore. This year due to overwhelming response, there were only 50,000 slots up for grabs. For Singaporeans, the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore organised by Sport Singapore isn’t the only competitive platform. There are others like the NIKE run, Great Eastern Women’s marathon as well as the Craze Ultra run, bringing running distances to yet another level.
Nonetheless, these participants have bore the fruits and the rewards of accomplishing a Marathon that are sometimes hard to define, but genuine and fulfilling. So if anyone were to ask you to go for a Marathon or perhaps just a morning jog, don’t hesitate. Because you never know just how far can you go?