A total of 9,800 runners divided into two groups with different starting hours set 45 minutes apart will run the 42,195 meters of the original route, which was run by the soldier Pheidippides in 490 BC to carry the news of the Athenians’ victory in the Battle of Marathon to Athens, in an effort that sacrificed his life.
Each group will be divided into eight “blocks” to avoid overcrowding as a precautionary measure against the spread of Covid-19.
A time limit of seven hours has been set for the completion of the Race and the finish of the 38th Authentic Marathon will take place at the Panathinaiko Stadium, where the runners will cover the last 170 metres of the route.
Also planned on Sunday are the 5,000-metre races (at 08:00 and 09:00) with 10,000 runners, while the 10,000-metre races are planned the previous day (at 17:00 and 18:00), with the participation of 8,000 runners. Also on Saturday, the opening ceremony is to be held at the archaeological site of Marathon (12:30).
A total of 27,800 runners from 83 countries and 100 different nationalities will take part in the 5,000-metre, 10,000-metre and Marathon races.
Among them will be 90-year-olf Stelios Prassas, who will be the oldest participant. Prassas, who prides himself in maintaining not only the physical fitness of a teenager but also the spirit of one, was born in 1931.
Authentic Athens Marathon race steeped in history
Among all the Olympic sports events, the Marathon Race stands out as it was born by a true historic and heroic event.
It was a true triumph accomplished by the news-bearing foot soldier from ancient Athens, Pheidippides, who announced – with his last words – the victory of the Greeks against the Persians during the Marathon Battle in 490 BC.
The 42,195m Marathon Race became one of the most competitive events during the revival of the Olympic Games in 1896.
A Greek athlete named Spyros Louis, running what has ever since been referred to as the Original Marathon Course from the ancient city of Marathon to the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, won the gold medal of the first modern Olympic Games and became a legend of Greek and International Athletics.
The Marathon Race has always had a prominent place in the hearts and minds of sports enthusiasts, as it represents the highest effort where the human body, soul and mind are tested to their limits as the runner presses himself/herself to reach the finish line.
Since 1982, the Athens Classic Marathon has been dedicated to Gregoris Lambrakis, the athlete, scientist and Member of Parliament, who was murdered in the 60s and, after his death, became a symbol of Human Rights.
“Run the race where it all started”
American magazine Forbes has featured Athens Classic Marathon in its top 10 list of “Marathons Worth Traveling For.”
“Run the race where it all started: The trek begins on an ancient battlefield in the town of Marathon. This course is challenging, as it begins near the Aegean Sea and climbs up toward Athens.
“But we think the chance to follow in Pheidippides’ footsteps from Marathon to Athens, passing by the Tomb of Marathon where the Athenian soldiers who died in the legendary battle are buried, makes up for any uphill discomfort, especially when you reach the finish line at the Panathenaic Stadium where the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896,” notes the article.
Watch the highlights of the last Marathon run in 2019: