After so much talk about ‘the spirit of the marathon’ in the wake of the ING New York City Marathon cancellation, I thought I’d share this: a museum exhibit dedicated to the history of the marathon, titled just that. It seems especially prescient in light of recent events.
The Spirit of the Marathon: From Pheidippides to Today opened in October at the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago. The exhibit centers on the history and culture of the race from the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC to the first marathon at the 1896 Olympics in Athens to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon today.
Sponsored by The National Hellenic Society, the exhibit begins with the story of Pheidippides’ fabled run from the Battle of Marathon to Athens to announce a Greek victory over Persian invaders. But the exhibit also explores the roots of the modern marathon as it has grabbed a foothold in the international racing scene, and how runners have subsequently used the race to bring attention to causes around the world from civil war to ideas of gender equality.
The Spirit of the Marathon shares how the race went from simply another athletic feat to an international event with a unifying spirit. The marathon has been a source of inspiration to millions of people who have worked to better themselves, and in many cases, better the world. The exhibit looks at the marathon as a globalizing force—an event that simultaneously celebrates national pride and provides a global platform for the improvement of humankind. The exhibit also focuses on the Chicago marathon itself, from the first race held in 1905 to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon today.
Located along mile 16 of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon course, the museum is offering half price admission until November 14.
The National Hellenic Museum, which opened in December 2011, is home to a children’s education center, research library, oral history center, museum store and rooftop terrace. Visit www.nationalhellenicmuseum.org for more information.
Karla Bruning is host of On The Run, New York Road Runner’s weekly lifestyle web show about running. She has completed four marathons, two triathlons and trains with the New York Harriers. Follow Karla’s “Notes From a Running Nerd” at RunKarlaRun.com, Facebook and Twitter@KBruning.