The year was 490 BC, and Pheidippides was striding quickly towards Athens to deliver word of their battle with the Persians. His city of origin? Marathon. The length of the run? Just around 25 miles.
Before his collapse and subsequent untimely demise immediately upon his return to Athens, he had time to deliver one important message.
Thus, the marathon as we know it found its origin. Luckily, humans are in much better shape for these long runs. But marathons still symbolize the same thing they did all those years ago: Patriotism. Courage. Valor.
It's not just the path that's filled with grit, either. Every piece of marketing, from the playlists to the video spots to the prints, encompass the confidence needed to complete a full marathon. The visuals contribute to the unity of thousands of people embarking on a grueling journey together just as much as the road, well, more traveled.
And since we are mere days away from one of the biggest marathons in the United States (more on that later...) we decided to round up the most motivating marathon logo designs. Some are simple, some are complex, some are childish, and some are awe-inspiring. But every single one describes their location — both city and country — in a single symbol.
Here are the top 10 marathon logos. Did your favorite make the cut?
The iconic Boston Athletic Association's race is the oldest annual marathon in the world, and that history is reflected in its elegant crest-like logo design. The dark blue base symbolizes trust and confidence, which is joined perfectly with the yellow accent color, which symbolizes illumination, courage, and passion.
These explanatory colors that encapsulate the process of braving 26.2 miles are rounded out with a strong unicorn illustration. According to the Boston Athletic Association, the unicorn stands for constantly striving for excellence.
Often touted as the "best people's marathon in the West," Portland, Oregon's signature road race stays true to the low-key nature of the Pacific North West with its airs of relaxation and inclusion. This is reflected in the colorful seal.
Portland's blocked yellow skyline is seen in the background, followed by horizontal stripes of green and blue which remind us of the beauteous nature of the area. A globe consisting of multiple International flags is topped with a rounded "stick-figure" runner. The entire logo design is bold, bright, progressive, and totally PNW.
The Paris Marathon's logo design takes their signature flag colors and marries them with an amusing, children's book-like illustration. The result? A youthful and energetic take on patriotism. Their design transports us to the carefree Paris of our dreams (seriously — we are getting real Madeline and Eloise vibes), making us crave those 26.2 miles more than we'd care to admit.
If the Paris Marathon's logo didn't bring you back to your childhood, Walt Disney is sure to do the trick. After all, who can resist Micky, Minnie and the whole gang? Held every January, this race is another adolescent take on country pride, but with a new spin. Bold borders of red and blue and an athletic Mickey in motion give a vintage, 1970s Wheatie's box flavor. Meanwhile, simple sans serif type is a far cry from Walt Disney's signature script, ensuring that the marathon has an identity all its own.
Just in time for the 2017 race, Tokyo unveiled a new design concept entitled "New Way, New Tokyo." The new direction is embodied within a simple circle, reminiscent of Japan's minimalist flag. However, this sphere contains various straight lines in all directions and many hues. This tactic showcases the individuality of all runners, walkers, volunteers and spectators that is celebrated within one unifying event.
Cool colors and a thin, sans serif font transport us to the most heavenly place in America: Hawaii. Varying shades of blue represent the beautiful waters of the area, while a spring green speaks to the lush foliage. The custom illustration of a Hawaiian woman is accented by an orange flower, while a slightly thicker font on Honolulu adds emphasis on the unique location. With no time limit, the Honolulu Marathon — and its visuals — place priority on vacation time over marathon time.
There's only one word to describe Rio de Janeiro's marathon logo design: Resolute. It's bold type and warm colors scream South America, and encapsulate the strong personalities and hot sun that come with it. But what makes this design even more exciting is the blue runner victoriously crossing the green finish line, displaying the joy, relief, determination and passion that comes with completing a marathon. What's better? He pulls double duty by acting as the "I" in "Rio."
The (very clearly sponsored) Chicago Marathon manages to side-step boring while still kowtowing to corporate America. A charcoal gray skyline — accented by the iconic Wilis Tower (or Sears Tower, for us oldies) — lines the background on a fisheye-like curve. A light gray street follows the lower portion of the skyline, finalized by an abstract symbol that resembls the American flag, which establishes a strong American root for this midwestern city's big event.
The Great Wall Marathon is a newer race (1999, to be exact) but that doesn't make it any less of a challenge. In fact, this particular venture may be tougher, as runners dash through the peaks and valleys of one of the world's greatest wonders.
This logo skillfully illustrates the 5,164 steps that runner's take into history with its two-toned winding gray wall and abstract red runner, which ever so faintly resembles Chinese type. The seafoam and emerald green type compliments the illustration without overpowering the whimsical imagery and trial competitors face.
New York City is a melting pot of people from all over the world, and the TCS New Tork City Marathon showcases this perfectly. The logo design's colors mirror the rings of the Olympics, but find a point of solidarity within a majestic Lady Liberty.
As the Big Apple prepares for the marathon this Sunday, Nov. 6, 2017 in the face of tragedy, New Yorkers and Americans alike can look towards the cheerful, patriotic and inclusive logo design as a beacon of light through those 26.2 miles and beyond.