Many have participated in a marathon, but does anyone know the origins of the race? The Perth Mint is issuing a coin that is not only highly collectible, but should answer that question. The Pheidippidis’ Marathon Run 2,500th Anniversary 490BC-2010 Silver Coin has been released to mark the 2,500th anniversary of what many believe to be the run that started it all.
The story starts back in 490BC. The Greeks were embroiled in the Persian War. King Darius I of Persia sent an army to Greece in the area of Athens and Plataea to gain control of the people and the land. The Persian fleet landed at Marathon Bay and prepared for battle.
Obviously not content to be subject to King Darius, an estimated 10,000 Athenians and Plataeans converged on the area to prevent the invasion. Vastly outnumbered by at least two-fold, the Greeks were not dissuaded and they prepared a defense as well as blocked the Persians from advancing. Little action happened for the next few days until the Athenians and Plataeans, for unknown reasons, decided to attack.
The battle was relatively swift and even with superior numbers, the Persians were losing. Seeing defeat, many made a hasty retreat towards their ships being followed all the way by the Athenians. The death toll is believed to be only in the hundreds for the Greek forces, but the Persians lost thousands.
Once victory was assured, word had to be sent back to Athens. The story goes that a messenger named Pheidippidis ran the entire 25 mile journey. Once in Athens, he is said to have exclaimed "nenikhkamen" (We Have Won) before collapsing and dying.
With the legend of Pheidippidis in mind, Olympic officials in the late 1800’s wanted a long-distance race. To this end they instituted the first official marathon. Hundreds of these races are now held annually with thousands of participants.
Pheidippidis Silver Coin Information
The coin celebrating the event that started it all 2,500 years ago features a high relief reverse with Pheidippidis running into Athens. Above him is a scroll proclaiming "nenikhkamen" (We Have Won). Underneath is the inscription ‘Pheidippidis’ Marathon Run 2,500th Anniversary 490BC-2010.’
As legal tender of the government of Tuvalu, the obverse contains an image of Queen Elizabeth II of England. The one dollar face value coin is struck from 99.9% pure silver to proof quality with a maximum mintage of only 5,000.
Each coin ships in a presentation case with an illustrated shipper and a certificate of authenticity. They are available now from for only $86.36 AUS, and may be ordered from around the world online at The Perth Mint Web site.
About the Perth Mint
The Perth Mint, wholly-owned by the State Government of Western Australia, is the official issuer of the Australian Federal Government’s Gold and Silver Bullion Coin Program. The Mint opened in 1899 in response to the discovery of rich gold deposits in Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie. It was Australia’s third branch of Britain’s Royal Mint – the others being the Sydney Mint and the Melbourne Mint (both closed).
The Perth Mint remained under Britain’s jurisdiction until 1 July 1970, when ownership transferred to the State Government of Western Australia.
In 2003, The Perth Mint officially opened an 8,400 square metre state-of-the-art manufacturing facility next door to its original limestone building. Dominating the Mint’s heritage precinct, these two important buildings are powerful symbols of more than 100 years of minting excellence in Western Australia.