What a sport is a marathon


The ancient marathon

The legendary long-distance run is also increasingly meeting with enthusiasm among the general public. In many German cities, marathons are now held every year - with an enormous number of participants.

The historically significant place Marathon is about 40 kilometers northeast of Athens. There, around 2500 years ago, the Greek army was waiting for the vastly outnumbered Persian conquerors. To call for help, the besieged Greeks sent the runner Pheidippides to Sparta, 200 kilometers away.

According to legend, he should have covered the distance in two days. But the Spartans reacted hesitantly, Pheidippides ran back. Finally, the Greeks defeated the Persian attackers even without outside help.

Out of sheer joy, Pheidippides allegedly ran another 40 kilometers to Athens. When he arrives, he should "Rejoice, we have won!" shouted and collapsed dead on the spot. Today a burial mound commemorates the battle of Marathon.

The run will be Olympic

The first modern Olympic Games took place in Athens in 1896. So it was obvious that the Greek organizers remembered the historical tradition of marathons.

In fact, the first Olympic marathon was held on the classic route, which was a little less than 40 kilometers long. The Greek Spiridon Louis won the discipline. He covered the demanding route in two hours, 58 minutes and 50 seconds. Louis became a sports legend in his homeland.

The distance: a royal wish

At the first Olympic marathon run in 1896, the distance was around 38 kilometers. At the Olympic Games in Paris four years later, the marathon runners covered 40.2 kilometers.

When the Games were held in London in 1908, an English princess wanted to watch the marathon start from her window in Windsor Palace. The competition commission complied with their request: They tailored the course to exactly 42.195 kilometers. This precisely measured distance was made binding at the time.

The classic distance does not refer to the legend of the marathon. Rather, it is based on the sporting interests of a royal highness.

The change to a boom sport

For a long time now, marathon competitions have not only attracted extreme athletes. For years, sport has also become more interesting for broader sections of the population. A real marathon boom has developed in the western world since the 1990s.

In Berlin alone, around 45,000 runners start each year - cheered on by a gigantic audience. Your goal: to explore your own limits with iron discipline and then overcome them again and again. Her sporting motto: "Face the challenge!" - in German: "Face the challenge!"

The danger in extreme cases: cardiac arrest

Time and again, athletes collapse dead at the finish line in modern marathon competitions. Similar to the legendary Greek runner Pheidippides, they die shortly after exposure, without any apparent cause.

Medical research has shown that the stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline are responsible for this. Within three minutes of the heaviest physical exertion, their values ​​increase to three to ten times what is usual. This can trigger life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias up to and including cardiac arrest.

Anyone who suddenly stops after the run risks an enormous drop in blood pressure. The blood flows into the enlarged blood vessels in the skin. As a result, huge amounts of norepinephrine are released, which can bring the circulatory system out of rhythm. To reduce the risk, you should walk a few hundred meters after the run.