The History Behind the Athens Classic Marathon
The marathon that is now held annually in Athens has become a tradition unlike any other. In 490 B.C., a soldier named Pheidippides made a heroic run from Marathon, Greece to Athens. The point of this 24.85 mile run was to bring news of a Greek victory over the Persians.
Moments after arriving in Athens, Pheidippides yelled “Niki!”, meaning “Victory!” He then collapsed to his death. The dramatic finishes of today’s marathons are in commemoration of Pheidippides heroic death.
The First Athens Classic Marathon
The modern Olympic games were inaugurated in 1896. Traditionally held as the final event in the games, this one was especially critical to all Greeks. Since Greece was hosting the games, it was vital for them to bring their people back a medal. However, at the start of the race, Greece had no medals and were now facing their last opportunity to do so.
Out of the 25 runners that lined up that day, only nine of them finished the full 24.85-mile race. Eight of those nine finishers were Greek, representing their home nation. In addition, they also brought home the gold medal in this category. The home nation was ecstatic as a tradition was born.
Modern Day Athens Marathon
Bringing an appeal no other marathon can, the Classic Athens Marathon gives runners a chance to try their hand, or feet, at the most historical race in the world. Every year, thousands of runners line up to give it a shot and none of them regret the honor. 1996 commemorated the 100th anniversary of this race, where 3,000 runners lined up.
Best Finishing Times
The top men’s finishing time was set by a man named Paul Tergat from Berlin. On September 28, 2003, Tergat finished with a time 2 hours, 4 minutes and 55 seconds. No male runner has done better since.
On the other hand, the best finishing time by a woman belongs to Paula Radcliffe, a runner from London. She finished the race with a time of 2 hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds. The record was set on April 13, 2003.
The unique thing about this course is that all 26.2 miles are run on asphalt. The first 12 kilometres are run on a flat surface, encouraging faster splits. The next 19 kilometres are filled with gentle, long hills, which can prove tiring. The final 11 kilometres of the race are spent downhill, giving runners a nice rest to the finish line.
Some landmarks you can expect to see are the tomb of the Athenian soldiers, the city of Athens, a statue of a runner in the city centre and the Panathinaiko Stadium at the finish line, a site for athletics in the ancient times.
2015 Athens Classic Marathon
This year’s marathon in Athens will be held on November 8th, 2015. In order to participate, you must be at least 18 years of age. However, there is no qualifying time, so anyone can give it a try.
Runners will line up at the ancient battlefield in the town of Marathon. Apostolos Greek Tours will bring you to the starting point. The race will begin at 9:00 am and the course will be open for 8 hours.
How To Sign Up
If you’re interested in having the run of your life, head over to www.athensmarathon.com. Click the “Booking” tab. They have several tour packages, one of which is bound to suit your desires. Your best option, turning this trip into more of a vacation, is a 12 day/11 night package that comes with a lot of benefits, including: taxi fares, transportation, food and others.
The package is currently listed at $2830.00. It only takes four simple steps to sign up online. You only need to enter your personal information, verify it, add a payment method and then verify everything one last time.
Don’t miss the opportunity of a lifetime. Enjoy a nice vacation with a historic marathon in Athens.