This is the alleged word spoken by the mythical messenger the instant before his death. "We are victorious." Maybe Stephens didn't know the original Greek, but an emotional 41-year-old Dutch scientist running to raise money for a charity in his home country certainly did. Eric Spierings had waited for this moment for a quarter of a century, since one of his high school teachers initiated him into the marvels of the Battle of Marathon and taught him the Greek national anthem. Spierings entered the stadium some four hours after his start, bellowing that anthem to honor his mentor and the crowd. He also brandished a scarf with blue letters on a white background: NENIKÈKAMEN.
Sometimes men become myths. Now a myth becomes a man. For those runners who ran and trudged, proudly or painfully, into the old marble stadium, Pheidippides transmogrified from legend to fact.