Running/Cross Country played a major part in ancient Greek history. Running was a one of the major contest held in many cities and those who were trained to run distance we considered very important. Before it was turned into a competition running was considered a necessity. It was used to bring news from battles and to honor the gods or bring self-honor.
Running was also important during a battle. Besides being used to run and attack our enemy, you needed people that would be able to deliver messages quickly and without getting caught. If reinforcements were needed someone would have had to have the skills to run for long periods of time and to do it with a certain speed. If you won a battle then the army would want the news delivered fast so they would send someone to give the message, like with the Battle of Marathon. A man named Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory over the Persian Army. The man ran about 26 miles and then died shortly after giving the message. This is why all marathons today are 26 miles or 385 yards.
There were contest for ancient Greeks that involved running every year. They were called Olympic Games and they were held in Olympia. As the games became more and more popular more people from all over the world would travel to compete in them. The winner of the races that were held did not win money or valuable prizes instead she/he would win an olive wreath that would be worn around their head. Woman were only aloud to compete in these races if they were virgins and they had to wear certain clothing as well as men did. The woman wore a dress that came up over their left shoulder and that completely exposed their right breast, they would also not wear any shoes or protection on their feet. The men on the other hand would usually run naked but there was one race in particular that they had to wear full body armor.
Running was considered a way to bring self-honor. If a male runner placed first place in a race it was considered a custom for him to build a statue of himself. This was a big deal to the Greeks because they did not believe in a pleasant after life so those who died in honor or with honor would be considered known to live off the wonderful lives of others even after they passed. If you lost a race you were considered dishonored and no one would remember you after you passed on to the after life.