Pheidippides has long been considered to be the originator of the marathon because he ran from Marathon to Athens (25 miles), shared news of the Athenian victory at the Battle of Marathon, then dropped dead, thus making the ultimate sacrifice to inspire millions of people to do completely insane things in the name of sport. But, in the spirit of a true legend, most of this probably didn't happen. (Including, but not limited to, the fact that we've thought for ages that it was around now-- late September-- but more recent research points to mid-August. Sheesh.)
There's a popular running joke (joke about running, that is): "Why couldn't Pheidippides have dropped dead at mile 20?" One of my favourites, for many reasons, not the least of which is this:
I had it as my "something about myself" blurb on Facebook in the months leading up to the Austin Marathon. Runners would chuckle and agree. Non-runners had an assortment of reactions, ranging from "Huh?" to "That's terrible! How could you post something like that?" Which I ignored, because I thought anyone who 1) Didn't spot the clue of the not-exactly-common name "Pheidippides" that I probably wasn't talking about a current event, 2) Couldn't take three seconds to use Google, and 3) Had already made an unfavourable decision about my character, probably also wouldn't get it when I tried to explain.