Today, more than 1,500 marathon races are organised worldwide. But Greece is where it all began. At the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, a 42km race from Marathon to Athens featured as one of the defining events of the new Olympic era. It was a way of recalling the ancient glory of Greece. Fittingly, a Greek water-carrier, Spyridon Louis, won the race in 2 hours, 58 minutes and 50 seconds. (Currently, Kenyan runner Felix Kandie holds the Athens Marathon record at 2 hours, 10 minutes and 37 seconds.) Every year, long-distance runners from across the globe challenge their bodies and spirits to retrace the legendary footsteps of Pheidippides. With its combination of hills, heat, and history, many find it to be the toughest—but most poetic—Marathon route of them all.