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On September 12, 490 BCE, a vastly outnumbered group of Athenians defeated Persian forces at the Battle of Marathon, Greece. The battle inspired a legend that led to the creation of the marathon race, although the legend is untrue.
 
The Athenian military used a flanking maneuver to defeat the Persians, who were hoping to launch a major invasion of Greece. The Athenians put their strongest soldiers on the outside, or flanks, of their battle formation. The Persians kept their strongest soldiers in the center. On the flanks of the Persian formation were slaves or people the Persians had forced into battle. The Persians initially had success, but ultimately failed when their forced laborers abandoned them and the Greek flanks closed in.
 
The legend of Marathon surrounds the Athenian messenger Pheidippides, who allegedly ran about 42.2 kilometers (26 miles) from Marathon to Athens to inform the Athenians about their victory. Exhausted from such a run, Pheidippides promptly died. 
 
Many historians think the legend confused Pheidippides’ earlier, even more-impressive journey. Before the battle, Pheidippides ran from Athens to Sparta, asking the powerful Spartan army for help. Pheidippides ran more than 225 kilometers (140 miles), and arrived in about a day. (The Spartans refused to help, and Pheidippides ran back to Athens.)
abandoned
Adjective

deserted.

alleged
Adjective

supposed or presumed.

army
Noun

military land forces.

battle
Noun

violent encounter during a conflict.

Noun

city where a region's government is located.

confuse
Verb

to bewilder or mix up.

enslaved person
Noun

person who is owned by another person or group of people.

exhaust
Verb

to tire or drain of energy.

flank
Verb

to be or place at the side of something.

formation
Noun

specific arrangement of things.

historian
Noun

person who studies events and ideas of the past.

inform
Verb

to provide knowledge.

initially
Adverb

at first.

inspire
Verb

to influence to act.

invasion
Noun

an attack or move to take possession.

journey
Noun

voyage or trip.

launch
Verb

to start or instigate.

legend
Noun

traditional or mythical story.

maneuver
Noun

a skillful movement.

marathon
Noun

42.195 kilometer (26 mile, 385 yard) foot race.

military
Noun

armed forces.

neighbor
Verb

to live or be situated next to.

outnumber
Verb

to be greater in number.

Persia
Noun

empire that dominated Mesopotamia from about 550 to 330 BCE. Most of the ancient Persian empire is in modern-day Iran.

prompt
Adjective

on time or quickly.

soldier
Noun

person who serves in a military.

ultimate
Adjective

final or maximum.

vast
Adjective

huge and spread out.

victory
Noun

success or triumph.

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