Victory or Death…or Both?

This champion didn't care which one reached him first

Ladas of Argos was a boss at the ancient Greek art of dolicho (long distance running). Now we’re guessing most of the people reading this rarely move three miles on foot in a month, let alone in an afternoon, in one go, naked. We of course don’t know if Ladas ran naked, but that’s mostly because he was never stood still long enough for anyone to notice.

Though little is known about the early life of Ladas, we do know that he was almost certainly an Argive citizen. We also don’t know whether or not Argive citizens are known for their ability to defy physics for their own benefit, but judging by Ladas, they probably were.

You may or may not know that the marathon as it exists today was never an event in the ancient Greek Olympics, though long-distance running was indeed an event, it was normally only between 20 and 30 stades. Now because we know that a single stade was around 192 meters, this puts the longest distance footrace the people of the time took part at around three miles.

Though that may seem tame compared to the ten-kilometer races and indeed marathons run by today’s athletes, you have to admit a three-mile barefoot sprint in sweltering heat, on sand without so much as a whiff of Gatorade is fairly impressive. Ladas is noted as being one of the finest long distance runners the ancient world ever saw, not because of his running, but because of how freaking ghost-like he was when he moved.

Numerous sources speak of Ladas moving with such speed and finesse that he didn’t leave footprints when he ran! You could easily say this was people back then being hyperbolic, but just remember we’ve talked about boxers who never threw a punch and runners who sprinted a quarter-mile in full body armour. People back then may have made bold claims, but there was always a degree of truth to them. Perhaps Ladas ran on his toes and thus his footprints were harder to see. Maybe his stride was so long his footprints looked hilariously fake or maybe, just maybe, this guy had a secret agreement with gravity that they’d stay the hell out of each other’s way.

But here’s the weird thing, we’ve already explained that this guy ran so well he the ground itself felt unworthy of recording his movements and we’re about to tell you, right now, that he kicked ass in the 460 B.C. Olympic games. That’s not what he’s remembered for. No, Ladas is remembered for pushing his body so hard he literally dropped dead on the way home from the race he just won. Some stories have him dying as he was receiving his victory wreath, though that’s believed to be poetic license arising from people being super-pissed that he didn’t die doing something cool.

Perhaps because this was one of the few times in history the ground had evidence Ladas had actually been there, he was buried on the exact spot he died. And to this day, “pulling a Ladas” is supposedly a saying used to describe a runner dropping dead, either figuratively or from their heart exploding. We say supposedly because we’d never heard of it, but hey, we’re not runners, or even athletes, hell, this article took us three sessions to type.

Which is where we get confused, Ladas of Argos DIDN’T LEAVE FOOTPRINTS WHEN HE RAN, and rather than an ancient guy Legolas-ing his way across ancient racetracks, him dying like a punk on his way home is the more memorable aspect of his life. Well you know what? No. That’s not how we’re going to remember Ladas, and we’ll be damned if you do too. We’re going to leave you with one thing, a single sentence written to describe, Ladas.

Ladas crossed the stadium length either by jumping it or on wings; his speed was demoniac, nor could it possibly be described.

HOLY $#!+. We guarantee if you tattooed that onto yourself, that part of your body could crush diamonds.

Gama was The Shadow to Bruce Lee's Batman

Gama was The Shadow to Bruce Lee’s Batman.

Karl Smallwood is a freelance comedy writer you can hire! His work has been featured on Cracked, Toptenz and Gunaxin. You should probably click those links to make sure he isn’t lying. He also runs his own website where he responds to the various pieces of hate-mail he’s gotten over the years, in fact, he got so much hate-mail that he wrote a book about it that you can buy on Amazon. When he isn’t writing, Karl also Tweets and uploads pictures of himself drinking on Facebook.

We're just surprised that when he died, he didn't choke Hades into submission.

We’re just surprised that when he died, he didn’t choke Hades into submission.

Not every ass-kicker of antiquity is a wrestler, but the ones who are will stomp your face into raw subatomic particulate, which then, over the course of billions of years, will break down, compress, and reform in a giant bang to one day become your face again. So no harm, no foul! Check out prime examples The Great Gama and Milo of Croton.

More from Karl Smallwood

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