The ancient Olympic Games began in the year 776 BC, when Koroibos, a cook from the nearby city of Elis, won the stadium race, a foot race 600 feet long.According to some literary traditions, this was the only athletic event of the games for the first 13 Olympic festivals.Other evidence, both literary and archaeological, suggests that the games may have existed at Olympia much earlier than this date, perhaps as early as the tenth or ninth century BC.A series of bronze tripods have been found at Olympia, some of which appear to be dated at about the ninth century BC, and it has also been suggested that these tripods may in fact be prizes for some of the early events at Olympia.The marathon was not an event of the ancient Olympic Games.The marathon is a modern event that was first introduced in the Modern Olympic Games of 1896 in Athens, a race from Marathon—northeast of Athens—to the Olympic Stadium, a distance of 42.195 kilometers.The race commemorates the run of Pheidippides, an ancient “day runner” who carried the news of the Persian landing at Marathon of 490 BC to Sparta (a distance of 149 miles) in order to enlist help for the battle.
The distance was the exact measurement between Windsor Castle, the start of the race, and the finish line inside White City Stadium.
From 776 BC, the games were held in Olympia every four years for almost twelve centuries.
Additional athletic events were gradually added until, by the fifth century BC, the religious festival consisted of a five-day program.
The athletic events included three foot races (stadion, diaulos, and dolichos) as well as the pentathlon (five contests: discus, javelin, long jump, wrestling, and foot race), pugme (boxing), pale (wrestling), pankration, and the hoplitodromos.
Additional events, both equestrian and for humans, were added throughout the course of the history of the Olympic Games.