A piece of history at Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend

In commemoration of the 80 years of diplomatic relations between Greece and Canada, the medals for this year’s for the first place finishers of the Tartan Ottawa International Marathon are being offered by the Museum of Marathon Road Race of Greece and presented by H.E. the Ambassador of Greece Konstantina Athanassiadou.

The history of the Marathon Race

In 490 B.C., a Persian fleet anchored in the bay near Marathon turning it into a battlefield for the invasion of Athens. Miltiades, the Athenian general, sent Pheidippides to run to Sparta to ask for their help. Pheidippides covered the distance from Marathon to Sparta and back in 2 days. The Spartans refused the request. Regardless, Miltiades led the Athenians along with a small force from Plataea into a triumphant battle against the Persians.

Once victory was claimed, Pheidippides was once again sent running from Marathon to Athens to announce the victorious news to the Athenians. After running about 40 km to the Acropolis, he promptly collapsed and died. To this day, the etiology of his death remains undetermined.

The Battle of Marathon is often seen as a pivotal moment in European history, due to the rise of the Classical Greek civilization over the two hundred years that would follow.

The Marathon Run Museum

The Projection Center of the Marathon Run Museum was founded where the first school of Marathon was located. That first public school was built around 1908 and was able to be expanded thanks to a donation from national benefactor Andreas Syggros in 1930. It was completed between the years 1960 and 1965. 

In 2004, Marathon Mayor Chr. Barbas and “ATHENS 2004”, the responsible organization for the conduct of the Olympic Games of Athens, lead an initiative to grant access and use of the building, which was then renovated, courtesy of Alpha Bank.

Beginning that same year, the Projection Center of the Marathon Run Museum became the permanent host of the exhibition “OLYMPIC MARATHONS”, donated by Lausanne’s Olympic Museum. The exhibition contains texts and photographs about the history of the Olympic Marathons, International Marathons,Women’s Marathons. In 2007 the Projection Center of the Marathon run was transformed into an Athletic Museum that now accommodates constantly growing exhibits from great Greeks and foreign Marathon runners.

More than 4,000 exhibits display the history of Marathon Race from 1896 to the present. It is a one of a kind collection, unique to the birthplace of the Marathon Race.

The exhibition is divided into two major sections. In the first building, the history of the Olympic Marathon Race is presented through a collection of rare exhibits. In the second, the global Marathon Race movement is recorded through thematic sections dedicated to Marathon Races held all around the world, Olympic Champions, women Marathon runners and athletic gear used by Marathon runners.

Among the exhibits, are the authentic medal of the winner of the first modern Olympic Games Marathon Race, legendary Spyros Louis. A replica of the cup he was awarded at Panathenaic Stadium (Kalimarmaro) in Athens in 1896 and some of his personal belongings.

There are athletic exhibits of the great Japanese women Marathon runners, Naoko Takahashi, gold medalist Sydney 2000, Mizuki Noguchi, gold medalist Athens 2004, Yuko Arimori, silver medalist Barcelona 1992 and bronze medalist Atlanta 1996. There are also exhibits of the Swiss Champion Marathoner Franzisca Rochat Mozer and Ron Hill, gold medalist Boston Marathon 1970 with a course record of 2:10:30. The Museum consists of a rich collection of treasured medals, cups and a variety of exhibits from all the great Greek Marathon Champions, men and women.