Philippides (also spelled Phidippides ) was an Athenian athlete.
There is a legend that, before the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC he was dispatched to run to Sparta to ask their help. Ironically, the military-obsessed Spartans refused to come because they were in the middle of a festival. He then ran back, participated in the battle, ran the 26 miles to Athens to tell them of the victory, then dropped dead. Modern runners participate in marathons in imitation of Philippides's marvelous feat. The additional meters in the modern Marathon was added at the 1908 London Olympics to accommodate the English Royal family.