In 490 BC one of the most famous battles ever fought on Greek soil was won at Marathon. The Persians had just invaded Greece but the Athenian army, under the direction of Miltiades, and an ingenious strategic plan, the Greeks defeated the Persians that day at Marathon. Legend has it that a messenger (Feidipidis) was sent from Marathon to Athens to relay the happy news of the battle’s outcome to his compatriots. He reached Athens and after whispering the Nenikikamen (We have won) he dropped dead from exhaustion.
In 1896, when the first Olympics were held in Athens the Olympics organizing committee had quite a gamble in front of them. Can man actually survive running ~40km or is this a lethal distance that will make athletes drop half dead or dead by this ‘super human’ effort? They decided to hold the race which took place in what is now called the ‘Classical Route’ and was won by the Greek runner Spyros Louis after who the main road in front of the Olympic Stadium is named.
It turned out that not only this was not a ‘super human’ effort but became one of the most popular events of the Olympics and an event that is repeated almost every week in cities around the world (Roughly 1700 marathon races take place every year around the world). And it is not surprising that most marathon runners have this dream of following the footsteps of the first ancient marathoner and Spyros Louis in order to run the Athens Classic Marathon.
The Classical Route of the Athens Marathon begins at its’ namesake city Marathon, proceeds towards Nea Makri and Rafina, goes uphill to Pikermi and then begins its descent towards Athens ending at the Panathinaikon Stadium home to the first Olympic Games back in 1896 Everyone that has run this distance can testify on how humbling it is to finish in that Stadium, an experience that brings hundreds of men and women every year into tears.
The 30th annual Athens Classic Marathon is going to will take place this Sunday 11th of November November 11. and roughly Approximately 9000 runners will be competing are scheduled to compete in the in those 42km from Marathon to Athens. A total of An additional 25000 runners will be running in other races in the center of Athens (5000m, 10000m and a kids race). It is a special celebration for the city not only because of the very special nature of this race, but because you can also experience central Athens without cars or traffic. And of course you shouldn’t forget to cheer for the runners!