Couriers on horseback and bicycles raced ahead to the stadium to deliver news of the race. Two miles short of the finish, the leader was Edwin Flack, the Australian who'd triumphed in the 800 and 1,500 meters. But Flack, who'd never run farther than 10 miles, staggered and was soon overtaken by Spiridon Louis, a shepherd who was serving in the Greek army.
When the courier galloped in and shouted that a Greek was leading, the stadium erupted. Louis had fasted the day before the race, and two nights earlier he'd spent the night on his knees, praying before a religious painting. As he entered the stadium, Prince Constantine and his brother George climbed down from the royal box to accompany him to the finish line, protecting him from the surging crowd. Louis became a national hero, and his name entered the Greek language. Egine Louis—literally, "became Louis"—means "ran quickly."