The Athens Half Marathon returned to the city on Sunday after a two-year pause because of the pandemic, dedicated to the memory of Mikis Theodorakis.
The race is one of the top sporting events in the capital and is jointly organized by the Hellenic Athletics Federation (SEGAS) and the City of Athens.
The City of Athens has accepted the unanimous proposal made by SEGAS’ board to hold the race in the memory of Mikis Theodorakis from now on and to organize a series of cultural and sports events alongside.
Greece’s greater composer Mikis Theodorakis passed away on September 2, with tens of thousands of people paying their respects while he was laying in state at the Athens Metropolis Cathedral.
The Athens Half Marathon route
The 9th Athens Half Marathon, which was not held last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, kicked off on Sunday at 7:30 am with the starting line being the Monument of the Unknown Soldier.
The signal for the race was triggered by SEGAS president, Sofia Sakorafa, together with the grandson of the late Mikis Theodorakis, Angelos Papangelidis-Theodorakis.
The route ended at Amalias Avenue at 11:00 after the participants ran through most of the streets of downtown Athens.
This year, participants in the race had to follow health protocol and had to provide a certificate that they are either fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or have immunity conferred by contracting the disease.
Thousands of professional and amateur runners participated in the 9th Athens Half Marathon in the streets of the capital.
The Athens Half Marathon is a unique opportunity to run around the Acropolis and through the historical district of Athens.
Runners enjoy the city highlights and experience an outstanding celebratory mood that characterizes the event.
The weather was ideal this time of year for the runners, averaging 24 degrees Celsius (75 Fahrenheit) throughout the race.
However, unlike the 2019 race, the participants and spectators were fewer because of fear of the pandemic.
The annual event, which started in 2012, has been over the last years one of the most successful races held on the streets of the Athens center.
This year, Panagiotis Karaiskos (of Panellinios Athletics Club) won the Panhellic trophy in men, who, like in the previous two years, came out victorious with 1.08.32.
Katerina Asimakopoulou of AO Mykonos was the winner in women, as in last year’s national championship, which took place in Schinias. She crossed the finish line first, covering the distance in 1.18.34.
The Athens race marks the resumption of city races in Europe
On Friday, Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis and SEGAS President Sofia Sakorafa visited the exhibition for the 9th Half Marathon at the Serafio Sports Center.
In statements afterwards, they noted that the holding of the race marks the resumption of mass road races in Europe, which had been stopped by the pandemic.
“Athens is returning after the difficulties we all faced with the pandemic. And she returns on the best possible terms. This is the first mass road race in Europe, which takes place under health conditions,” Bakoyannis said.
“I would like to give my warm congratulations to SEGAS, because it opens a new road for the whole of Europe, but also a new road for the improvement of the conditions and quality of life in the center of Athens.
“And of course, what we need to keep in mind is that sport goes along with culture. As the Marathon is held in the memory of Grigoris Lambrakis, so we want the Half Marathon to be held in the memory of Mikis Theodorakis.
“Two great Greeks who set an example and inspire us until today, but also can inspire the generations to come.”