It was hot in the Athens basin in 490 BC, when the Greek military leaders sent the messenger Pheidippides to Sparta. His mission: to obtain help against the Persian army under King of Kings Darius I. In an unbelievable feat of physical exertion, the messenger is said to have covered approximately 245 km across the Isthmus of Corinth to the south of the Peloponnese peninsula in about 36 hours. The Spartans refused to help straight away, and Pheidippides ran back. Despite this, the Athenians defeated the Persians on the lowlands close to the small Greek town of Marathon. Legend has it that the messenger was so excited that he ran the 40 km to Athens afterwards to tell people about the victory – the myth of the marathon was born.