Ever wonder where the idea to push your body to the limit by running 26 miles comes from? There is in fact an exact moment, recorded by the classical historian Herodotus, after the momentous Battle of Marathon which brought an ended to the first Greco-Persian wars.

Marathon was a culmination of attempts by Persia, under King Darius I, to subjugate Greece and force them under their rule.

Now, if you have watched 300 Spartan then you will know that the Greek city states were a pretty hard core bunch of fighters. However, although Sparta were hailed as the most skilled military and horse men in Greece, when it came to democracy, the Athenians could get pretty fierce.

Democracy originated in Athens and its people were the ones that met Persia on the battlefield of Marathon. They fought the Persians who fought with greatly superior numbers and their victory was so significant because it allowed democracy to develop and establish itself. If the battle had been lost, the new Athenian idea of democracy would have vanished and would not have been documented in history.

After the battle, a Greek runner named Pheidippides ran all the way from the battlefield at Marathon to Athens in order to relay news of the victory. It is reported that he only managed to say: “We were victorious!” before he collapsed and died from exhaustion.

Pheidippides's run became the inspiration for the Marathon event, introduced at the 1896 Modern Olympics and continues to inspire runners all over the world today.

In Athens it is still possible to run the original route and to run not only in the footsteps of ancient Greek heroes and legends, but also to run in the birthplace of democracy.