The temperature in Athens hit 100° hours before the start of the women's marathon on Sunday, and the blistering conditions resulted in one notable casualty. World-record holder and gold medal favorite Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain (inset), running in fourth place, dropped out of the race, emotionally and physically spent, with less than four miles left.
The same sort of conditions may have occurred when Phidippides made his 26-mile dash from Marathon to Athens in 490 B.C. to announce a battle victory. New research reveals the run most likely took place in mid-August, perhaps explaining why Phidippides dropped dead after delivering his message.