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Today, a “marathon” is a long race — possibly of 26 miles or so but often different. Or it may be a long session of doing something — nearly anything. There are “movie marathons” and “shopping marathons” and many other kinds, all picking off a word that means “long distance” or “long term.”
But originally the word was the name of a small Greek village and applied to the plain nearby — a plain noteworthy for being a good place where hundreds of Persian ships could offload thousands of Persian troops and let them get organized, before proceeding the distance to Athens and burning the city in revenge for the Athenians supporting a rebellion against Darius I. It was a place where, oddly enough, two armies confronted each other for FIVE days with almost no fighting, and Athenian democracy was put to the test as the Greek forces debated (and voted) whether or not to attack the Persians, finally reaching the affirmative only after seeing most of the Persian cavalry reloaded onto ships for use…somewhere probably unpleasant for Athens.