This past Monday was the 119th Boston Marathon, and with that came the realization that the running season is finally upon us. Even more exciting, spring is officially here!
Not only am I completely ecstatic about all of the amazingness that spring brings (think: sunshine and temps above 40 degrees; daffodils blooming and buds sprouting!) as I and countless others lace up, venture out and hit the pavement, but in doing a little research on this topic I ran (pun intended) across some pretty interesting information.
Let’s start at the beginning…
The Olympic Games of 1896 (known as The Games of the I Olympiad) was the first international multi-sport event held in the modern era since the ancient games. 13 nations and 280 athletes participated in 43 events in 9 sports. The major athletic highlight of the games was the marathon, held for the first time in an international setting. Unknown water carrier from Greece, Spyridon Louis, was the first marathon winner of the modern games.
Interest in marathon competition piqued after these first Games, and American cities such as Boston (1897) and Chicago (1905) quickly followed suite. The First Chicago Marathon (as it was called back then) was organized by the Illinois Athletic Club each year from 1905 to 1909, and then sponsored by the Chicago Daily News in preceding years. It was held annually with significant community and spectator support until the early 1920s, when city challenges hindered its continuation. What we know today as the Chicago Marathon was revived in 1977 by runner and Mayor Richard J. Daley successor, Michael Anthony Bilandic.
The history of the modern marathon is rich with amazing stories like that of Spyridon Louis, and Louis Marks, who was favored to win the first Chicago Marathon in 1905 until a come-from-behind late-race victory from underdog Rhud Metzner. These types of races have all the components of an exciting feature film. World records have been made and then broken. There have been a plethora of neck-and-neck victories and attention-grabbing stories, which have emerged in those 26.2 miles.
With the Boston Marathon now behind us, the Copenhagen Marathon just about a month away, the 38th Chicago marathon taking place in October, the NYC marathon in November and countless races being held in cities across the globe on any given day, it’s easy to recognize the association between such a beloved sport and its international appeal. Running, and participating in or being a spectator of any type of sport, is yet another way that we are all connected!
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