September 6, 2015

Long run today, I was thinking about messengers.

Phidippides was a day-runner. While I do not pretend to be an expert in ancient Greek history, I think this meant he was a messenger. Horses and other large animals were not very well suited for running long distances because they would get fatigued quickly. Humans were perfectly suited to this task and some say it is how we hunted large hooved prey. Phidippides had a specific job that probably did not involve hunting, he delivered messages. We know that his most famous message delivery job involved running from Marathon to Athens and delivering an important message about the Battle of Marathon. “The Greeks trounced the Persian invaders, film at eleven.”

The reality is he dropped dead after delivering the message. The distance was 26.2 miles but this distance was said to be a walk in the park. He had run over a hundred miles in the previous days and probably was not paying attention to his glycogen stores. He finally ran out of fuel and paid the ultimate price. A Twinkie or a Ding-Dong may have saved him. This brings me to my point. This job he had was more extensive than just delivering battle victory messages. When the Greeks weren’t winning battles he had to supplement his income. I don’t know if he was an independent contractor or he worked for some big Athenian message service but he was probably running all over the Balkan Peninsula. If you had some extra coinage, you might call up Phidippides to run a message to your vacationing wife in Thessaloniki. “The cat just died and your sister came for a visit and is eating us out of house and acropolis” or “I had spanakopita and souvlaki for lunch” (ancient Facebook post). You do not become the most famous messenger in recorded history by delivering just one message. You have to deliver all the other ones that do not get you a statue. Phidippides had to keep moussaka and baklava on the table for his hungry family. I know that JPD fashioned his running after the ancient Greek day-runner, he too had to keep pancakes on the table for his hungry family.

Are you getting sick of sunrises yet? Favorite song today: Can’t Run But performed by Paul Simon

Later and Later

Later and Later

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