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Fascinating Facts about Go The Distance Scramble Squares®
Humans have always participated in endurance running, originally to hunt for food and to avoid becoming food. In modern times, running has become a popular sport, recreation and fitness activity. The run to Athens in 490 BC by an ancient Greek military courier named Pheidippides from a battlefield near the town of Marathon to report the Greek victory over the Persians is the famous endurance run upon which the first modern Olympics, held in Athens in 1896, based its longest distance run. It is legend that Pheidippides shouted, "Victory!," as he entered Athens and then immediately died from exhaustion. Spiridon Louis, a postal worker, also from Greece, won the first modern marathon, finishing a full 7 minutes ahead of the other eight finishers (seven others of whom were also Greek).

In addition to its importance as one of the most challenging and dramatic athletic events in each Olympic Games, the marathon run has become a popular event in many locations throughout the world every year, often resembling a "fitness festival," celebrating human determination, stamina and dominance over the environment in which it is run. Finishing a marathon, in whatever time, is "victory" enough for most of the persons who enter the race. The Boston Marathon was first run on April 19, 1897. It is held every year on Patriots Day, commemorating the April 19th midnight ride of Paul Revere to warn his fellow American colonists in and around Boston that the British were invading from the sea at the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The Boston Marathon is the oldest continuous marathon event outside of the Olympics. The New York City Marathon, begun in 1976 and held in November, has become the largest marathon, with over thirty thousand entries. The Los Angeles Marathon, held in March, is the third largest, with more than twenty thousand participants.

In addition to marathons, races of other lesser (and even greater) distances take place throughout the world, usually to raise funds for various charities and to support other community activities and cultural programs. In the Marathon des Sable (Marathon of the Sands") begun with only 23 competitors in 1986 by Frenchman Patrick Bauer, about five hundred participants from approximately thirty countries race on foot across almost 150 miles of the Sahara Desert in south Morocco. Perhaps the most popular distance runs are the "10K" (kilometer) and "5K" races. These races are equivalent to 6.2 miles and 3.1 miles, respectively, and attract beginning racers, recreational runners and fitness walkers of all ages who enjoy the spirit of community and well being that participation provides. The Bay to Breakers race, on the other hand, is completely different, like the eccentric city and culture in which it is held. Held every May in San Francisco, more than 70,000 participants traverse 7.46 miles from San Francisco Bay to the breaking waves at Ocean Beach, many dressed in outlandish costumes, such as centipedes, six packs of beer, nuns, the Cat-in-the Hat, or, in a very few unsanctioned cases, in nothing but running shoes.

As with most community marathons and 10ks today, the marathon races in Boston, Los Angeles and New York City include a wheelchair racing division. The first person to race a wheelchair in the Boston Marathon was Eugene Roberts in 1970, who completed the course in 7 hours. The first official wheelchair marathon racing champion was Bob Hall, in 1975. Hall crossed the Boston Marathon finish line in just under 3 hours. Using high tech racing chairs, wheelchair racers today can complete a marathon course as fast as 1-1/2 hours.

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