Michel Bréal (1832-1915) – The Man Behind the Idea of the Marathon

Submitted by Norbert Müller, Professor Emeritus

Born 175 years ago in Landau, Palatinate, Michel Bréal is typically known as an outstanding linguist among experts – this is also indicated on the memorial plate at his birth place. This contribution, however, shows another Bréal: the man who provided the inspiration for the Olympic marathon in Athens 1896. Based on letters between Bréal and Pierre de Coubertin, who set up the Olympic Games by founding the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894, the article traces the steps from the conceptualisation of the marathon to the first race in Athens in 1896.

KEYWORDS:Olympics, IOC, Marathon, Pierre de Coubertin