History of the Marathon

With the Dublin Marathon coming up on the 30th of October, it is important to know the story behind the ‘Marathon’ and how it came to be the race we all know of today.

The name marathon comes the legend of Philippides or Pheidippides.


Philippides was a Greek messenger from back in 490BC. His job was to run to Athens, from the battlefield in the city of Marathon. The reason behind this was to inform the Greek council of the news that the Persian army had been defeated.

It is said that Philippides ran the whole length from the battlefield in Marathon to Athens and burst into the hall to tell the Council screaming that they had won the battle. He is said to have run the whole distance non-stop and died after declaring their victory.

The reason the marathon became the gruelling 26 miles distance is because Philippides took the slightly longer route from Marathon.

The legend of Philippides is that he had first run to Sparta and back which was 140 miles to ask the Spartans for help in the battle against the Persians. However, they refused based on an ancient law.

Philippides then ran another 140 miles back to Athens to inform them of this news. After arriving, he and the small Athenian army marched to Marathon to battle.


After fighting in heavy armour all morning in Marathon he was then requested to run to Athens to inform them of their victory. Where he shortly died after from the exhaustion.

Centuries later the “marathon” race was held in the Olympic games. The distance was 40,000 meters, or 24.85 miles. Later in the 1908 London Olympics it was made a little longer to accommodate a lap of the Olympic stadium at the end of the 25 miles. This made the race become the iconic 26.2 miles.

In 1921 it was cemented as 26.2 miles as the standard marathon distance by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

So when you see the runners going by on October 30th make sure to give them an encouraging cheer.


Dublin Half Marahton

The Dublin Half marathon had a record amount of people turn up this year with a sell-out race of 9,000 runners.

I was one of those 9,000, but for me, it was my first half marathon. I had been training for months now. I was nervous.

As I stood among the other 1,000 runners around the big luminous 1:30hour ballon I felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of people.


Coming from such a small town this was a culture shock. The race began at 10am, and at 9.55am it began to rain. We were soaked through by the time to gun went off.

We started our 21 kilometre journey at 10.03 am on Saturday morning, the 24th of September. My first few steps over the start line were a wobbly few steps indeed.

Phoenix park was packed to capacity with cars parked in every parking space available. Although those not familiar with the phoenix park had a punishing walk to the start line, as some parked over two kilometre away.

This race will always be remembered as the one race I ran, where I became uncomfortably cold. My knees felt brittle and my fingers were numb. The wind whipped across us when we were in the open, and lingered in the shade.

The course was nice and it was testing. The climbs were deceptively long and built up a lot of fatigue in  my legs over the 21km.

I must thank the few people who gave me some words of encouragement. It went a long way to getting me over the line. When someone is in that much pain, it really is the little things that pick us up mentally.img_2803

Now I will train for the Waterford half that is on this December. I hope to run a solid 1:30hour marathon there. This half really got the better of me and I fell in over the line in 1:42:50.

The race was hotly contested by some elite athletes. In 1st place the Rathfarnham runner, Sean Hehir came in at 01:07:45. He was closely followed by Fikru Teshager, also from Rathfarnham in 01:08:58. Mark Kirwan with Raheny Shamrocks came in 3rd with 01:09:27 on the clock.

1st woman home was Barbara Sanchez in 01:18:26. She was closely followed by Catherina McKiernan in a time of 01:19:27. Caitriona Jennings running for Rathfarnham followed them in with an equally impressive time of 01:20:33.