Back in the year 490 BC there was a battle between the Athenians, from, uh, Athens, Greece and the Persians for -- well, nobody remembers why. It was called the Battle of Marathon because it took place in a town called, what else, Marathon. It wasn't actually called that. We call it that. In those days it really was known as Katharavousa or, when they said it quickly it was Μαραθών.
It so happened the Athens boys won the battle. They had a guy named Pheidippides (actually Φειδιππιδης) sometimes known as Phidippides or Philippides who carried messages. His nickname was Phil and his job was to carry messages, as their other methods of transmitting information were unreliable. So, he ran 22 miles to Athens, yelled something like "We won, we won" and died.
For all those runners who go to New York it's fortunate the battle was at Marathon instead of at the city of Delphi which was (and still is) 180 kilometers (112 miles) from Athens. Not only would would they need to run farther but no longer would it be the New York Marathon but would be in the annual New York Delphi, which just doesn't sound right. Or perhaps it might be called the New York City Katharavousa or the New York City Μαραθών.
However, according to a CBS report on 60 Minutes (03/27/05) there are people who wouldn't mind that run at all.
There is another race called the Badwater Ultramarathon and it takes place each summer starting at Badwater, California USA, which happens to be the lowest altitude in the country. They then ran across Death Valley, part of the Mojave Desert where the temperature was so hot the runners ran on the white stripe in the highway. Then they ran halfway up Mount Whitney (8,400 feet) to complete the 135 mile course. That was not a typo it was 135 miles.
Now I'm not making this up, this last summer there were 72 runners (7 were women) from 11 countries qualified for the race. There was no mention of what it takes to qualify but I'm not planning on applying anyway. In 2002 and again in 2003 a woman won the race.. The winner this year was a man who finished in 27 hours and 22 minutes. Out of the 72 starters, only 13 dropped out. All the women finished.
So much for the frail sex. Change your own tire!