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Sports Then and Now

The History of Running as a Sport

Posted on January 13, 2020 by Brooke Chaplan

We all grew up as kids running around playing imaginary games. We didn’t see running as a chore but, rather, something entertaining to do. As you age, running can start to become more of a sport and workout activity than just a fun imaginary game. Here is a quick look at how running has developed as a sport over the history of mankind.

Introduced As a Sport in 776 BCE

If you thought your grandparents were old, think again. Running was first introduced as a sport back in 776 B.C.E. This is the time of ancient Greece where Olympia was a sports town. In 724 B.C.E. the town of Olympia decided to host its first Olympics, which is the first of the modern world games that we know today. The foot race was held in a stadium in Olympia and was the sole competition of the first games.

Reintroduced in the 1896 Olympics

After the Olympic games were restarted in 1503 there were many different sports added to the world competition. In 1896, the sport of running was added to the Olympic games at the urging of a few different people. There were the Greeks who wanted to introduce running into the events as a way to pay tribute to their heritage. Michel Breal, who was a French philologist, urged for the sport to be in the form of what is known as a marathon. At the first reintroduction of the sport, it was a male-only event.

The Boston Marathon Becomes a Reality

One of the longest-running events that involves the sport of running is the Boston Marathon. It first was started back in 1897, which is one year after the successful running event of the Olympic games. The first Boston Marathon was constructed by John Graham and Herbert Holton. It was measured at 24.5 miles. Unlike the first Olympics, where the runners were naked, 1897 runners were wearing men’s running shorts with pockets (women were not able to participate). Over the years, the route has been lengthened to come to a round number of 26 miles.

The Running Boom of the 70s

1972 is a big year to note for the Running Boom of the 1970s. Frank Shorter was an American participant in the Summer Olympics. He won for the U.S. and sparked what was known as the Running Boom of the 1970s. People took up running as a regular sport and hobby to stay healthy. Even the President at the time, Jimmy Carter, was publicized as taking up the sport.

Running is not anything new that we’ve learned we can do. Rather, it’s a sport that has been around since the time of the ancient Greeks. As the years go on, more and more people are crafting running as a favorite pastime and sport to enjoy.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at or Twitter @BrookeChaplan

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