A Few Things Missing from Original Marathon Reenactment

In honor of the 2,500th anniversary of the Battle of Marathon, Greek runners Maria Polyzou and Panayiotis Skoulis plan to reenact Pheidippides’ feat – not just the run from Marathon to Athens, but also his run from Athens to Sparta and back, a total distance of some 325 miles.

The details of Pheidippides’ run are almost certainly myths, but if you’re going to relive it, why not go all out? For one thing, some tellings of the legend hold that Pheidippides not only ran to Marathon and back, but fought all day in the battle in between. Wouldn’t it be cool if Polyzou and Skoulis recruited a couple of Persian volunteers for a melee with swords and shields?

Also, everyone leaves out an important bit of the story, which originated with the Greek historian Herodotus. While on his way from Athens to Sparta, Pheidippides happened to run into the god Pan. Pan asked him why the Athenians weren’t showing him the love. When Pheidippides returned to Athens and told the city leaders the tale, they believed him and built a temple to Pan. Of course, nowadays they would have just assumed that Pheidippides was a little short on GU that day, if you know what I mean.

Besides, we don’t have to guess about what really happened to Pheidippides – we have his race report. I have since added to this major archaeological find by unearthing a slide from Pheidippides’ PowerPoint presentation to the Athenian leaders: