ATHENS AUTHENTIC MARATHON: 120 YEARS OF HISTORY

Less than a week time until the great event… On Sunday November 13th, for the 34th consecutive time, a colorful crowd of young and older runners – elite athletes, lone participants, families or groups of sports-loving friends- will stand at the starting line for the marathon and accompanying 10K and 5K races. They will run from the outskirts of Marathon into the city of Athens to challenge themselves, overcome their own limits, live a life-changing experience and, mostly, participate in this unique athletic celebration that unites runners from all over the globe.

The AthensAuthenticMarathon official website

The Athens Marathon is a unique race in itself. The only race to follow the original course from Marathon to Athens, the one that introduced the term “marathon” as the indication of a distinctive athletic event, prides in being challenging though greatly rewarding for participants. For running aficionados, running Athens is not running yet another marathon, challenging as that may be. It is going back to the race’s ancient roots, exploring personal limits and being part of marathon history.

This year, the “Athens Marathon. The Authentic” marks 120 years from the first contemporary Marathon race, an athletic event inspired by the ancient course of the legendary Athenian hoplite hemerodromos after the Battle of Marathon. In the spring of 1896, during the first modern Olympics, athletes from five countries lined up at the starting line on the bridge of Marathon to cover the distance to the Panathenaic Stadium on a dirt path. The race was won by Greek athlete Spyros Louis, whose historic victory stands as a symbol of tireless effort, stamina as well as the breaking of physical and mental barriers. Key to the race was also the presence of Greek runner Charilaos Vasilakos, who won the second place. Louis and Vasilakos, the two Greek runners, became the first two Olympic victors in the history of the Marathon race. This race, which was launched during the inaugural Olympic Games of the modern era, became one of the most popular athletic events all over the world, with millions of participants and supporters.
This year also marks 70 years from 1946, when leading Greek runner Stelios Kyriakides won the Boston Marathon, achieving one of the major Greek athletic successes internationally, while also demonstrating humanity and great love for his country.

The Athens Marathon, the only race conducted along the original course from Marathon to Athens and the Panathenaic Stadium, remains an emblematic event for long-distance runners around the globe. In its present form it is held continuously from 1983 on, dedicated to Grigoris Lambrakis, the great Greek doctor, champion in the Balkan Athletic Games and pacifist.

(Source: http://www.thisisathens.org/explore/city-stories/citystory/?blogId=17)

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