The Athens Marathon is one of the most popular and perhaps one of the most difficult marathons in Europe and by far the most popular run in Greece.
What happened last year:
In 2012, the Athens Classic Marathon celebrated their 30th anniversary. There were around 30.000 runners from all over the world for the 5 and 10 kilometer distance in Athens center and of course for the classic 42 kilometer distance. Last year a new record was set by a runner from Kenya of 2 hours, 11 minutes and 35 seconds.
What happened this year:
This year, Athens Classic Marathon was celebrating the 31st anniversary. This time, there were around 31.000 runners for all races. The runners of the 42 kilometer race started at 9 a.m. and a little bit after 11 a.m. reached Kallimarmaro where more than 35.000 viewers were waiting to meet the winners. The winner was Yego Hillary Kipkogei from Kenya. He finished the distance in 2 hours. 13 minutes and 50 seconds. But he didn’t manage to beat the record of last years’ winner Kenyan runner Raymond Kimutai Bett.
Before that, the runners of the 5 and 10 kilometer distance finished their race. More than 15.000 Greeks and foreigners of all ages participated in the shorter races of the 31st Classic Marathon. There were a lot of families, kids with their parents and grandparents, anyone who wanted to celebrate this beautiful festival.
The goal of 10,000 runners in the Marathon Race set by the Organizing Committee was clearly met this year, while the percentage of those coming from abroad was 25% higher than last year.
A little bit of history:
According to the legend, the very first marathon in the world appeared on the route where the present day Athens Classic Marathon takes place. In 490 BC a huge Persian army invaded the small town of Marathon (Greek: Μαραθωνας). However in the Battle of Marathon that ensued, the Greek army defeated the Persians, and a messenger named Pheidippides (Greek: ο Φειδιππίδης) was sent to Athens to bring news of the victory. The young Greek ran the 42 km from the battlefield to the capital as fast as he could, announced his joyous message, and died. And according to folklore, this is the inspiration for the marathon race we know today. Apart from the obvious connection to the legend of Pheidippides, the Athens Classic Marathon is dedicated to Gregoris Lambrakis (Greek Γρηγόρης Λαμπράκης), a Greek athlete and Member of Parliament who, after his politically motivated assassination in 1963, became a national symbol of democracy and social justice.