History tells us the marathon was born after the Greek soldier Pheidippides galloped off from a battlefield at the town of Marathon to Athens in 490 B.C.
The route has been honoured consistently ever, since with the recent Athens Olympic course following in Pheidippides’ alleged footprints.
Today – more than 2000 years later – taking on the might of a marathon is a traditional challenge for the athletes and runners are this year preparing for this summer’s Callanish Stones Marathon and the first in the Western Isles in six years.
With still more than six months until the starting pistol for the Callanish Marathon, there are already 96 names signed up to take on the 26.2 mile route around Callanish and the west coast of Lewis.
The marathon will start at the Breasclete Community Hall before setting off through the village, past the Carloway Broch, to the Blackhouse village at Gearrannan and returning via the Pentland Road to finish at the famous Callanish Standing Stone circle.
It is a route carefully plotted to showcase the beauty of the Lewis landscape at the same time as posing the traditional upward and downward slopes of a marathon.
Stornoway Running and Athletics Club chair Tony Robson, who will be running himself, admits to being thrilled with the enthusiasm for the event so far.
Tony explained: “The whole catalyst for a Western Isles marathon was born in 2007 after running the Barcelona marathon.
“I met some members of the 100 club afterwards, who expressed a great interest in coming to Lewis and Harris should we be able to host marathons.
“We held two then in 2008 – one in Harris, and one from Callanish to Stornoway – which were very succesful.
“But we have been reluctant to put them on too often, but six years is a big enough gap and we are thrilled to have been able to arrange another for this summer as part of Homecoming 2014.
“We think it is appropriate, and hope that a lot of people will come home for the run.
“Last time out, we began at the Callanish Stones and made our way into Stornoway town centre ,but this time around, we wanted to try and show off all the historical attractions on the west coast, which is why we came up with the new route.
“So far, we have almost 100 confirmed runners for the marathon and others for the 10K and fun run.
“This is already more than the entire number which ran the marathon in 2008.
“We would love to increase the number to 200, and we are hopeful as we have had enquiries from all over the world including Patagonia, America and Dubai.
“We are also retaining the two starts we had in 2008 – one at 8am and another at 10am – to try to encourage as many local people as possible to take part, and the walkers can set off later should they wish.
“It should be a great event and it comes a week before the Tattoo and carnival, so we hope some families will choose to stay for the full week and enjoy all the events if they are taking a week off for the marathon anyway.”
Tony also expressed his gratitude to both the Breasclete Community Centre for their support as they will be providing the use of the hall and food for the runners.
Thanks also go to Pentland Wind Farms for their sponsorship of the event.