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Barb's Olympic Adventure Continues
Posting 8: The Women's Marathon

Curriculum CenterBarbara Taddeo is at the Olympic Games -- and she is sharing the experience with Education World readers! Taddeo, a middle school special education teacher from San Mateo, California, will share her observations -- and some activities too. Follow Taddeo's journey through her reports from Sydney!


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Sunday, September 24, was a warm sunny day here in Sydney as the women's marathon made its way through the streets of the city. The temperature reached a high of 26 degrees Celsius (about 84 degrees Fahrenheit).

The weather in the morning was perfect for a marathon --cool and calm. The runners followed a route that took them across the Sydney Harbor Bridge and through different sections of the city, ending in the Olympic stadium at Homebush Park. I got up early and took the train to the center of the city to watch the race. I watched the runners from two different locations. It was so exciting to see them run by! The runners were spread out throughout the race. A flat bed truck specially outfitted to hold the press covering the run, media equipment, and a set of bleachers preceded the runners.

One great thing about watching a marathon is that it allows the public to be close enough to see the athletes as they run by. At the beginning of the race, Naoko Takahashi of Japan was at the back of the pack. Linda Simon of Romania and Joyce Chepchumba of Kenya were in the main pack. But as they entered Olympic Stadium, Naoko was far ahead of the pack. She won the race in a time of 2 hours, 23 minutes, and 14 seconds. The silver medal winner was Simon and the bronze went to Chepchumba. All finished within a minute of each other.

The marathon is one of the oldest races in the Olympic games, dating back to ancient times. The marathon can be traced back to the run of Pheidippides, who was a famous runner in the Grecian army. His general, Militades, needed the fastest runner under his command to take the news back to Athens that he had defeated the Persian army even though they were out-numbered. The run was approximately 26 miles. After he arrived with the news, Pheidippides died from exhaustion.

In modern times, the marathon is 26.2 miles or 42km. Until the 1984 Los Angeles Games, only men ran the marathon in the Olympics. That year, Joan Benoit (now Joan Benoit Samuelson), then 26, won the first women's Olympic marathon.

When training for a race such as the marathon, athletes must be careful not over train. In training, that's called peaking early. It's important to practice for any athletic event, but it's also important not to "peak" too early.

The men who qualified for the marathon are training for their event, which takes place on the last day of the Olympics. The men's marathon ends just before the closing ceremony begins. The athletes enter the stadium to the cheering crowd. In past Olympics, this has been one of the most exciting events of the games.

Also on Sunday, I watched the sailing events while climbing Sydney Harbor Bridge. For those of you who have walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, I did the equivalent on the Sydney Harbor Bridge -- nicknamed the "coat hanger" bridge because of its shape. One interesting thing you can do is climb to the towers of the bridge, which I did. Boy, what a view!

After climbing the bridge, I took a walking tour of the old city. I bet you didn't know that Australia was almost a crown colony for the country of France! Captain Cook beat the French explorer La Perouse to Australia by ten days. Just to refresh your memory, Australia is still a British commonwealth.

Teachers:
  • Have students note which countries have won medals and in which sports. They can find this information at The Official Site of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games or at the MSNBC Olympics Front Page.
  • Have students track the performances of the women athletes in the Sydney Games and research the roles women have played in past Olympics. The Atlanta Games were considered the women's games because the women athletes won more medals for the United States team than the men did. That was also true for Australia. Past and present Olympic women carried the torch into the stadium at the opening ceremony of this year's Games to honor the 100th anniversary of women's participation in the Olympics.
  • Have students cut articles from your local papers about the Olympics. If you have Internet access, have students track and print out Olympics information from Internet sites.
  • Click here to return to the article index.

    Barbara Taddeo has created these activities for the students of three schools -- but she has been kind enough to agree to share her daily reports with Education World's readers. We're pleased to be included in these daily mailings to the students in Taddeo's 7th grade class in Room 31 at Borel Middle School in San Mateo, California; Mrs. Hirschmann's class at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Turersville, New Jersey; and Lacey Rhoades' class in Mesa, Arizona.

    Barbara Taddeo
    Education World®
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    09/26/2000