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Why is a marathon 26.2 miles?

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Pheidippides (530 BC-490 BC), an Athenian herald, was sent to Sparta to request help when the Persians landed at Marathon, Greece. He ran 240 km (150 miles) in two days. He then ran the 40 km (25 miles) from the battlefield by the town of Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory over Persia in the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) with the word "Νενικήκαμεν" (Nenikékamen, 'We have won') - and died on the spot.
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