Spirizon-Louis. Image source: International Olympic Committee website

"No marathon runner would think of stopping for a glass of red wine 10 kilometers away from the finish line because there is only one Spirizon-Louis." Someone once wrote. The story spanning three centuries starts with this strange name.

Spirizon, the name was translated from Greek phonetics, and many people have never heard it. But in the history of the marathon and the modern Olympics, he is an inescapable figure-today, exactly 124 years ago, Spirizon won the first modern Olympics marathon on behalf of the host Greece. Countless runners pursue the beginning of the limit.

In 1896, Spirizon was a teenager under 24 years old.

Before 23 years and 89 days, he was just a waterman living in the small town of Marousi in the north of Athens. In order to complete his work, he had to transport 30 kilometers of purified water on the country road every day.

In the years after 23 years and 89 days, he became a well-known hero in the whole of Greece-to this day there is still a saying in the Greek proverb: run like Spirizon. Meaning: run fast.

In April 1896, the first modern Olympic Games was held in Athens, Greece. On April 10th, the marathon was held as scheduled. 17 contestants came from 5 countries and regions, of which Greece took 13 places. But our protagonist Spirizon was not among these 13 at first.


Before the first modern Olympic Games was held, there was no marathon or professional long-distance runners, so selection was crucial. For the marathon, a project derived from the story of Greek history, the host attached great importance to it, so two selections were held.

For the first selection, Spirizon was not selected. Eight days before the Olympic Games, Greece held another tryout. This time, Spirizon won the fifth place with a score of 3 hours, 18 minutes and 27 seconds. At that time, the Olympic registration had ended, but Spirizon was still included in the Greek team's roster.

In this way, wearing shoes donated by the neighbor's neighbors, Spirizon stood at the starting line of the Olympic Marathon. After the password for the start of the game was issued, a French athlete took the lead, and when he reached Pikmi Village halfway, the French took only 55 minutes.

It is here that the vibe is that Spirizon stopped to drink a glass of red wine, and after asking the people around him about the leading edge of the players in front, he said: "The champion will be mine."

At that time, besides leading French players, as well as Australian athletes Fleck, American Black and Hungary's Kona, Spirizon only ran fifth.

Spirizon's great-grandson showed Spirizon's photos.

However, later, Spirizon ’s great-grandson clarified in an interview with the media that Spirizon did stop drinking during the game, but it was not a half-way position: "My great-grandfather ate half of his girlfriend and gave him Orange, also drank some brandy that his future father-in-law gave him. "According to him, it happened less than 10 kilometers away from the end point.

Although the location of drinking is still a mystery, the course of the game did develop as Spirizon predicted. The leading French player gave up the game at 32 kilometers, and Australian Flake surpassed it.

The proud Australian sent a cyclist after the lead to inform the people waiting at the finish line that he was about to win. The news reached that the Greek crowd waiting to watch fell silent.

As the host of this competition, the Greeks hoped to win the medals, especially the champion of the marathon. Some people say that the proposal of the marathon is one of the reasons that moved Greece and made them agree to host the first Olympic Games.

But the proud Flake did not expect that the late-spirited Spirizon followed up and quickly approached. At 5 kilometers from the finish line, Spirizone surpassed Flake, who was already overstretched. The exhausted Australian insisted on running for another 2 kilometers and then collapsed and retreated.

After Spirizon won, the audience cheered. Image source: International Olympic Committee website

After Spirizon took the lead, another cyclist set off. When he reported the message led by the Greek player to the Greek king awaiting the finish line, the news spread quickly and the crowd instantly boiled.

Then the sound of artillery sounded, announcing that the leader was about to enter the Panathinaco Stadium where the finish line was. Squeezing through the crowd of crazy cheers, Spirizone's figure appeared at the entrance.

Later, Coubertin wrote in his memoirs: "It seems that the entire ancient Greece entered the stadium with him, and unprecedented cheers rang." The then Greek crown prince even rushed to the runway and accompanied Spirizon to the finish.

"Unbelievable, the scene at that time will still come to my mind like a dream ... Olive branches and flowers fell beside me. People threw their hats in the air to celebrate, while shouting my name." Spirizon It was still difficult to hide the excitement when I recalled the scene in 1936 40 years later.

The 1896 Athens Olympic Marathon gold medal winner Spirizon Luis. Image source: Visual China

When he reached the end, Spirizon was exhausted, but he still bowed to the king with his last effort, and the excited king waved his hat to salute him.

In this way, he not only won the first Olympic marathon, but also became the national hero of Greece. His compatriot, Vascoros won the runner-up with a gap of 7 minutes. It is worth mentioning that in the two previous trials in Greece, Vascoros finished the first place and was therefore recognized as the champion of the first modern marathon.

But he lost in the most important game. On the contrary, Spyridon, who had never defeated him before, was a god of war.

Success and failure, gains and losses, glory, regrets ... In the years to come, everything we witnessed, tasted, and lamented about competitive sports began here.

Since then, Spirizon has not participated in any marathon, and continued his previous career-water delivery. Even when the king decided to give him any reward he wanted, Spirizone chose only a donkey and a carriage to make it easier to complete the water delivery.

Invited to attend the 1936 Berlin Olympics as a guest is his only intersection with the marathon in the long years to come.

Spirizon did not seem interested in the rewards after winning. Image source: International Olympic Committee website

Although Spirizon stopped, the marathon, which showed infinite charm when he debuted, was quickly recognized by the world.

In 1921, the length of the marathon was fixed at 42.195 kilometers. Since then, this string of numbers has possessed a magical power.

In 1954, Jim Peters became the first person to open the 2 hours and 20 minutes mark in the marathon. Later, he also tried to impact "210", but eventually fell down in the game.

"I was lucky that I didn't die in that game," Peters said after recalling that game.

Jim Peters collapsed when he hit the "210" mark.

At the 1960 Rome Olympics, Ethiopian athlete Bikila ran barefoot through the marathon. He not only became the first black African athlete to win the Olympic gold medal, but also led humanity into the "215" era of marathon with a score of 2 hours, 15 minutes and 16 seconds.

Before the game, Bikila had not become an official member of the Ethiopian national team. It was not until shortly before departure that an official player was injured and could not compete, so he won the chance to play in the Olympic Games as a backup player at the last minute. We seem to know such bridges before.

Abbey Bicilla raced barefoot in the 1960 Rome Olympic Marathon.

In 2004, half a century later, the Olympics, which had accumulated over a hundred years, returned to Greece. At that time, the main stadium, the Athens Olympic Stadium, had another more affectionate name-Spirizon-Louis Stadium.

Looking back today after standing for more than 100 years, under the call of "Higher, Faster, Stronger", the world record of the marathon has been set again and again until today's 2 hours, 1 minute and 39 seconds.

Even in an informal match on October 13, 2019, world record holder Kipchog, with the help of the team, conquered the distance of 42.195 kilometers in just 1 hour, 59 seconds and 40 seconds. Although this result has not been officially certified, Kipjog led people to feel the moving and shock brought by the "Broken 2" in advance.

On October 13, 2019, world record holder Kipchog and his team conquered the distance of 42.195 kilometers in just 1 hour, 59 seconds and 40 seconds.

"I hope more people can run for two hours, and I hope to run for two hours in the official game." Kipjog said after that game.

Across three centuries, runners constantly measured the limits of humanity on the marathon track. This is a common agreement for generations of runners, and it is a promise made by ordinary people to themselves.

And all this, starting today 124 years ago, stems from all the people who run like Spirizon. (Finish)