De arte gymnastica
What if we tried for once to ‘run like the Greeks ran’? Running lovers or not, one thing is certain. Everything has changed from the time of Pheidippides to today – technology, politics, science, warfare, the way we write, eat, travel, even the climate – but two things have remained the same: our muscles and those darn 41.8 kilometers that separate Marathon from the Acropolis of Athens. The very ones I plan to run.
Why do we run? Why all this hustle and toil? What does this constant pursuit of muscle and sweat tell about us? Once again we have to go back in time and back to the Greeks, the first who wondered why we test ourselves by measuring ourselves against others. The famous motto mens sana in corpore sano tells of the value the Ancients placed on such tests, so much so that the Olympics was the only time when weapons had to be kept silent. Andrea Marcolongo, after years spent among books and grammars trying to ‘think as the Greeks thought,’ began training and tried to ‘run as the Greeks ran.’ And he did so using as an accompanying tool the first sports manual in history, the philosopher Philostratus’ De arte gymnastica. Until the final crazy purpose: to run a marathon, or rather, the marathon, the 41.8 kilometers separating Marathon from Athens run two thousand five hundred years ago by the soldier Filippide, before he tore himself to the ground from too much fatigue.