It All Started There!

2,500th Anniversary of the Battle of Marathon in April

Battle changed course of history



Above, file photo, from left, Timothy Kilduff, Dmitri Kyriakides, and Dave McGillivray posing with the 2500th sign before the 2009 Boston Marathon.


December 29, 2009 "It All Starts Here" is a catchy phrase that Hopkinton has earned for being the host of the oldest, continuous marathon in the world; but the inspiration for the modern marathon itself is celebrating its 2,500th Anniversary.

       The Battle of Marathon took place on the plains of Marathon, Greece in the year 490 BC. A Persian invasion army landing in Marathon was encamped when a smaller force from Athens, reinforced by heavily armed hoplite soldiers, attacked by charging across the plains of Marathon straight toward the Persians. The Athenians also used what is known in modern warfare as flanking maneuvers. They drew the Persians toward the center of the attacking force by opening a hole in the middle with a calculated retreat, and then attacked them from the sides, surprising them, and killing 6,400 of them. The Athenians lost 192 men, who are buried in a mound in Marathon where a flame is lit each year, the fire from which burns in front of the Hopkinton Police Headquarters in a lantern dedicated to this cause.

       Legend has it that Phedippedes, an Athenian herald, first ran 150 miles to Sparta and back to request reinforcements, which were not forthcoming.  After the battle, he ran 26.2 miles from Marathon to Athens to announce the Athenians' victory over the Persians, when he dropped dead from exhaustion after uttering, "We have won!" Thus the distance, and the connection, to the modern Marathon.

      And recently, a more tangible connection has been made between Hopkinton, Massachusetts and Marathon, Greece, who have shared a sister city relationship for about three years now. Reinforcing that relationship on an ongoing basis is the Founder and Director of the Hopkinton Athletic Association, Timothy Kilduff, who has just returned from a trip to those cities to watch the Athens Classic Marathon. (Photo, right, actors at the Marathon Flame at the foot of Soldiers Mound in Marathon, Greece prior to the start of the recent Athens Classic Marathon. Below, then-Selectmen Chair Muriel Kramer and Marathon, Greece Mayor, Spiros Zagaris lighting a cauldron on Hopkinton Common with a flame that was run up the hill and over the Boston Marathon Start line after being flown from Greece. The flame originated at the Soldiers' Mound in Marathon.).   

     Mr. Kilduff began branding Hopkinton as a community of runners in 1996 during the 100th Boston Marathon, when he launched, with the aid of Boston Athletic Association (BAA) Executive Director Guy Morse, the Hopkinton Athletic Association and began a relationship and licensing agreement with the BAA, which owns and manages the Boston BAA Marathon.

   Mr. Kilduff was instrumental in bringing the statue of Stylianos Kyriakides, winner of the 1946 Boston Marathon, and Spiridon Louis, the winner of the first modern Olympic Marathon in 1986, to Hopkinton, where it is located at Weston Nurseries at the one-mile mark of the marathon course It is a near-duplicate of the statue that is displayed in Marathon, Greece, both designed by Romanian-born sculptor Mico Kaufman.

      "No other place has the historical connection to the Boston Marathon that Hopkinton has. In 1980, the Hopkinton Marathon Committee was set up to protect the interests of Hopkinton, but now the BAA has a professional staff," Mr.. Kilduff said.


      "Hopkinton is the only town that interfaces with the BAA," he said. He listed Marathon-related events in Hopkinton.

      "There is the Elmwood School interaction with the Kenyans," he said. Each year, elite Kenyan runners have visited the Elmwood School in an extravaganza and cultural exchange sponsored by John Hancock to the benefit of the Elmwood students, who take part in a symbolic run following the presentation.

      "The sixth-graders study Greek classics. The George V. Brown statue. The Phedippedes statue.

      "The Marathon Flame!" he said emphatically.

      "There's no other place in the world that keeps it burning perpetually," he said.

      "There's all of this Hopkinton-based marathon-related stuff, and the community hasn't quite captured it the way it could," he said. He continued:

       "Johnny Kelley, Jock Semple, Bill Rodgers. Johnny Kelley stayed at Ruth and Paul Phipps' home," he said.

       "I want to get the Hopkinton story out to the world.

       "There is nothing like this town's connection to the pre-eminent marathon of the world."

      Mr. Kilduff was also responsible for commissioning the statue by Hopkinton sculptor, Michael Alfano, of sports legend George V. Brown, starter's pistol at the ready, that is displayed on the Hopkinton Common. (Photo right, Mr.. Kilduff at Olympic Stadium in Athens at Athens Classic Marathon).

      Again, there's The Flame.

      Now called the Marathon Flame, the fire that burns in Hopkinton is a direct result of the relationships  and partnerships that Mr. Kilduff has cultivated with people in Marathon, Greece Hopkinton's Sister City and in China. One of those people is Dmitri Kyriakides (Above, right in photo of flame), son of 1946 Boston Marathon winner, Stylianos Kyriakides, who used his triumph to bring the plight of his war torn nation to the consciousness of the world.

      Now, Mr. Kyriakides wants to bring the celebration of the 2,500th Anniversary of the Battle of Marathon to as many marathons in the world as he can. Mr. Kyriakides telephoned recently from Shanghai, China, where his ship repair business has an office.

     He said that he'd like to see two-hundred cities signed up to help celebrate the 2,500th Anniversary of the Battle of Marathon, and has already signed twelve international marathons participating in China.

      Mr. Kilduff added, "Every other marathon in the world looks to the Boston marathon as the pre-eminent marathon in the world after the Olympic marathon.

     "Part of celebrating the anniversary will be the displaying of the 2500th logo at as many marathons as possible. The logo was created by Steve Lewis, partner at Gorman-Richardson-Lewis Architects of Hopkinton, and an avid runner.

    "In addition, the municipality of Marathon, Greece recently registered the 2500th logo, as memorialized by a letter from mayor Zagaris to the Greek Counsul, Constantinos Orphanides," said Mr. Kilduff.

     Mr. Kilduff hopes that this year's celebration will educate people as to the origins of the sport of marathoning, and bring attention to Hopkinton as the cultural connection with the origin of the race in Marathon, Greece.

     After all, people from Hopkinton know, "It all starts here," but after this year's celebrations, with the American, Chinese and Greek connections, people throughout the world will know "It all started there," in Marathon, Greece, 2,500 years ago.


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