Dateline: Hopkinton

Why is a marathon 26.2 miles?

It is roughly 26 miles between the Greek cities of Marathon and Athens.

In 490 BC, the Greek army repelled a Persian naval invasion on the plains surrounding the coastal city of Marathon. According to legend, a runner was sent to Athens to relay news of the victory. Upon reaching Athens, the young man shouted “Rejoice, we conquer!” and fell to the ground dead.

The current marathon distance (26 mi., 385 yds.) was set for the 1908 London Olympics so that the course could start at Windsor Castle and end in front of the Royal Box. Not until 1921, however, was that distance adopted as the “official” Marathon distance by the IAAF.

What is the origin of the name Heartbreak Hill – courtesy, Wikipedia.org

Heartbreak Hill is an ascent over one-half mile of the Boston Marathon course, between the 20 and 21 mile marks, in the vicinity of Boston College. It is the last of four “Newton hills”, which begin at the 16 mile mark. The Newton hills confound contestants (out of proportion to their modest elevation gain) by forcing a late climb after the downhill trend of the race to that point. Heartbreak Hill itself rises only 80 vertical feet, but is positioned at a point on a marathon course where muscle glycogen stores are likely to be depleted—a phenomenon referred to by marathoners as “hitting the wall.”

The nickname “Heartbreak Hill” originated with an event in the 1936 race. On this stretch, defending champion John A. Kelley caught race leader Ellison “Tarzan” Brown, giving Brown a consolatory pat on the shoulder as he passed. His competitive drive apparently stoked by this gesture, Tarzan Brown rallied, pulled away from Kelley, and went on to win—in the words of Boston Globe reporter Jerry Nason, “breaking Kelley’s heart.”

Is it possible to stop to drink a glass of wine, and still win a marathon? – courtesy, Wikipedia.org

When the idea of a modern Olympics became a reality, there was a use for a great popularizing event, recalling the ancient glory of Greece.

The idea of organizing the race came from Michel Bréal, who wanted to put the event on the program of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 in Athens. This idea was heavily supported by Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, as well as the Greeks.

The Greeks staged a selection race for the Olympic marathon, and this first marathon was won by Charilaos Vasilakos in 3 hours and 18 minutes.

Spiridon “Spiros” Louis, a Greek water-carrier, finished fifth in this race but won at the Olympics in 2 hours, 58 minutes and 50 seconds, despite stopping on the way for a glass of wine from his uncle waiting near the village of Chalandri.

What about donuts? Has anyone trained by eating two donut a days and still been able to finish in a respectable 4:00 hours?

This has yet to be determined. Yes.

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