An oracle told her that Atalanta would be ruined if she chose to marry. But her father urged her to marry, but she was discouraged. Her father bargained that if a man could outrun her in a race, she would marry him. But if the man lost, then he would be killed. Atalanta raced many men, but none could beat her. Suitors risked their lives for her hand in marriage. It is said that Atalanta was faster than any human. One man, Hippomenes was enthralled by Atalanta and istantly fell in love with her. He prayed to the goddess Venus, to win the race. Since Venus was the goddess of love she took piety on poor Hippomenes and appeared before him. Venus gave him golden apples (in some versions the flower, quince) to drop during his race to distract Atalanta. When Hippomenes challenged Atalanta to a race she was torn between winning the race and Hippomenes' looks. She liked him and did not wish for him to die but she wanted to beat him in the race. 

As the race started she quickly took the lead over Hippomenes. But suddenly Hippomenes threw a golden apple in front of Atalanta, who stopped running to pick up the glittering fruit. Two more times Hippomenes repeated this tact, gaining just enough ground to cross the finish line before Atalanta. Since Hippomenes beat her in the race, Atalanta and Hippomenes were happily married. In some versions of the myth Atalanta and Hippomenes are turned into lions because they did not thank Venus properly for helping them unite each other.