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Monday, May 08, 2006

Didn't Pheidippides Die?

Paul has posted a great post on The Persians. (It always pays to have a classicist on-board.) I have to admit that I was also unaware that Herodotus reported that Pheidippides ran 150 miles in one day. My memory was that he had run only 20 miles in that day, and that then he died. (After, of course, delivering his world-historical message: "The Persians are coming." Or something similar.) Paul's version makes more sense: If Pheidippides had run only 20 miles, and then died, then that would be curious. If he ran 150 miles, in one day, and then died . . . well, I can see that. Oh, yeah.

So, sorry, no Spartathalon in my future. Btw, isn't it weird that one event in the "ironman" is swimming? I mean, a real ironman would sink, clearly.


At 9:14 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Yes, the version where Pheidippides runs to Athens to let the Athenians know makes no tactical or narratological sense at all, since the Athenians were already there... As for the term ironman, I see at the Spatathlon site the proper term nowadays is Ultra-runner. And yes, the story goes that Pheidippides died after delivering his urgent message. He should therefore be called a ne non plus ultra runner.

At 9:25 PM, Blogger Number Three said...

I'm not sure what the official version is, but this is my sense of how the terms are usually used:

The term "ultra" normally refers to a running/foot race longer than a marathon. Thus, an old law school friend runs ultra trail marathons of 50 km (about 31 miles). In Ohio, they run a 100-mile race at a state park. Those are "ultra-marathons." The term "ironman" usually refers to a triathlon comprised of events of certain distances, including, as the third (running) leg, a marathon. Not all traithlons are "ironman" distance (the Olympic marathon, for example, is considerably shorter).

I'm not sure how to translate: "ne non plus ultra runner." My best guess is "runner who can run no farther." On many occasions, I have been such a runner.

At 9:55 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Yes, but you ran again, maybe the next day or next week, but eventually you did run further...


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