Running back to where it all began The sport of basketball is more than 100 years old. The earliest known references to baseball came in 1744. And tennis, well, that game dates all the way back to the 12th century.
Photo Courtesy: www.mindbodygreen.com - As a member of the 1972 Olympic team, Jeff Galloway competed against the world's best athletes in Europe, Africa, and the former Soviet Union.
The sport of basketball is more than 100 years old. The earliest known references to baseball came in 1744. And tennis, well, that game dates all the way back to the 12th century.
Impressed? Don’t be.
“How many sports can trace their lineage back to that time period?” wondered Jeff Galloway, who on Sunday will run the Athens Marathon as part of the 2,500th anniversary. “There aren’t many.”
Indeed, there may not be another sporting event on the globe with more tradition than the Athens Marathon — a 26.2-mile journey from the Greek city of Marathon to the capital of Athens, a path first blazed by Phidippides in 490 B.C.
Phidippides was a Greek soldier serving as a messenger for the Battle of Marathon. Galloway is an American runner serving as an ambassador for the battle of health. Two men, 25 centuries apart, forever bonded by 26.2 miles of roads, hills and history.
“The thrill of coming into that stadium is unlike any thrill that I’ve ever had,” Galloway said, “with the exception of being in the Olympics itself.”
Galloway, 65, of Atlanta, is one of the most respected members of the running community. He represented the United States at the Munich 1972 Olympic Games in the 10,000 meters. The following year, he broke the American record in the 10 mile. But his athletic accomplishments don’t even scrape the surface of the impact he has had on the sport.
Galloway is also a coach through Galloway Training Programs, which has worked with hundreds of thousands of runners and walkers around the world. He is an author, having written 20 books on running and the importance of exercise. He is a motivational speaker, a race coordinator, a volunteer, a corporate fitness pioneer, and an entrepreneur, having started his own nationwide running store in 1973.
The name of the store? Phidippides.
“Yeah, I named my store after that guy that gave his all for the Greeks and for his country, back in 490 B.C.,” Galloway said.
This weekend, Galloway will be reunited with Phidippides in a sense, as he returns to run the Athens Marathon for the 15th time. He and his wife, Barbara, run the course simply for enjoyment these days. They will clock in at around 5 hours, but the race on Sunday is more about running with good friends and sharing great stories on the most sacred marathon course in the world.
“Marathons are really like children — they’re different,” Galloway said. “For the beauty, it’s Big Sur. For hospitality, the Walt Disney World Marathon. But for the overall experience, it’s got to be the original.”
In a typical year, approximately 4,000 runners flock to Athens for the anniversary of Phidippides’ trek. This year, more than 12,000 participants are expected, which creates its fair share of problems. But as far as