Marathon, Spartathlon and Data Quality

Tomorrow there is a Marathon race in my home city Copenhagen. 8 years ago, a post on this blog revolved around some data quality issues connected with the Marathon race. The post was called How long is a Marathon?

Marathon
Pheidippides at the end of his Marathon race in a classic painting

However, another information quality issue is if there ever was a first Marathon race ran by Pheidippides? Historians toady do not think so. It has something to do with data lineage. The written mention of the 42.192 (or so) kilometre effort from Marathon to Athens by Pheidippides is from Plutarch whose records was made 500 years after the events. The first written source about the Battle of Marathon is from Herodotus. It was written (in historian perspective) only 40 years after the events. He did not mention the Marathon run. However, he wrote, that Pheidippides ran from Athens to Sparta. That is 245 kilometres.

By the way: His mission in Sparta was to get help. But the Spartans did not have time. They were in the middle of an SAP roll-out (or something similar festive).

Some people make the 245-kilometre track in what is called a Spartathlon. In data and information quality context this reminds me that improving data quality and thereby information quality is not a sprint. Not even a Marathon. It is a Spartathlon.

 

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