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Main Entry: mar·a·thon
Etymology: named for Marathon, site of a battlefield in ancient Greece 1 a: a long-distance footrace of 26 miles 385 yards (42.2 kilometers) that is run on an open course b: a race other than a footrace (as for swimmers) marked especially by great distance 2: a long hard contest <a dance marathon> - marathonadjective Word HistoryMarathon is the name of a plain in Greece located about 26 miles (42 kilometers) from the city of Athens. It was the scene of a great victory by the Greeks over the Persians in 490 B.C. According to legend a Greek soldier named Pheidipiddes ran all the way from the battlefield to Athens to deliver the news. He reached the city, gasped out his message, and fell dead. When the modern Olympic Games began in 1896, one of the events was a footrace of 26 miles 385 yards (42.2 kilometers), called a marathon, in honor of the legendary run by Pheidipiddes.