Although the women and girls were not often allowed to appear in public, or to witness certain of the Olympic games, there were special days held sacred to them, when the girls also strove for prizes.
They too ran races; and it must have been a pretty sight to see all those healthy, happy girls running around the stadium, as the footrace course was called.
One of these races was called the torch race, for each runner carried a lighted torch in her hand.
All were allowed to try to put out each other’s light; and the prize was given to the maiden who first reached the goal with her torch aflame, or to the one who kept hers burning longest.
The prize for the girls was the same as that given to the boys; but the boys took part in more games, and were present in greater numbers, than the girls, and their victories were praised much more than those of their sisters.
The crowd of people watching the games often grew so excited that they carried the victor all around the grounds on their shoulders, while Olympia fairly reechoed with their cries of joy.
We are also told that one old man called Chilo was so happy when his son laid at his feet the crowns he had just won, that he actually died of joy, thus turning his son’s happiness into bitter grief.
While all the foot races took place in the stadium, the horse and chariot races were held in the hippodrome, and excited the greatest interest.
There were two, four, and eighthorse races; and, as the horses were sometimes unruly, the chariots were liable to be overturned.
Thus at times a number of horses would fall in a heap, and lie struggling and kicking in the dust, which added to the general excitement.