Local Event Sports Association

No, this article is not about any marathon race. But it is about the origins of the marathon itself, some 2,500 years ago, on March 10, 490 B.C.

The locale was Athenian Greece, the home of a then-novel concept called "democracy." This was due as much as anything else to an accident of geography.

Unlike most other lands to the north, east, and west, which are basically flat, Greece is hilly. That meant that the land leant itself well to small, family-owned farms, rather than large estates held by wealthy landowners.

The climate and soil proved especially suited to growing wine grapes and and olives for oil, meaning that such high value-added products could be traded profitably for cheaper staples such as wheat and cloth.

Thus, Greek ships visiting the far Mediterranean shores of "Marsalia" (France's Marseilles) and even Spain with Greek wares, made for prosperous, fiercely independent, and relatively "equal" yeoman farmers. In such a country, one free (male) farmer was as good as any other, hence the notion of "one (free) man, one vote."

Far to the west, a small city-state blessed with similar geographical characteristics named Rome, was about t...

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