P064The dolichos was introduced as an Olympic event in 720 BC, one olympiad after the diaulos. It was a long-distance race. Known distances vary from 7 to 24 stadia in different cities and periods. The distance was also different for each age category. On the basis of one poem, several historians think the most common distance was 20 stadia, this is about 3550 to 3850 m.
On vase-paintings dolichos-runners can be recognized by their calm stride, the upright trunk, the arms that are held still beside the trunk and the hands in fists.

Longer distances, like the marathon, were not run at the games. Messengers did run longer distances, but not as a part of a competition. These messengers were called ‘hemerodromoi’ or ‘day-runners’, because they could run all day. Sometimes they delivered messages to cities more than 100 km away.


© KU Leuven, 2012