What sets the Olympic Marathon apart from other footraces? It is some mystical combination of those two words "Olympic" and "Marathon."
The Olympics come only once in four years. In the next century while 100 winners of the Boston, New York, and other marathons are crowned, the Olympics will crown only twenty-five. While someone who runs in Boston and has a bad day can always come back the next year and the next, many runners have only one opportunity to compete in the Olympic race. A bad day means no Olympic medal. Yet the Olympics are considered by most athletes the ultimate sporting event. They have captured the imagination of spectators as well. Little could Pierre de Coubertin imagine how the movement he created would grow and change. Though some of his ideals, such as amateurism, have been left behind, his vision of a peaceful competition that would embrace all the countries of the world and in which each athlete would be honored to compete, has nearly come into being. Although the modern Olympics now bear no resemblance to their ancient counterparts, they do maintain the underlying feel of mysticism and religion that were placed there by the tie to, the ancient Games. The Olympics are a near religious experience for all the peoples of the world, and the one event that is truly Olympic, the only event on all the long program that was invented particularly for the revival of these Games, is the marathon.
The marathon has captured the imagination of people inside and outside the Olympic Games. While most casual runners used to content themselves