Thousands of runners from all over the world are participating in the Athens Authentic Marathon taking place on Saturday and Sunday.
There are three major runs during the event which all have finishing lines at the Panathenaic Stadium, home to the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. They include the Authenitc Marathon Race, a 10 km road race and a 5 km road race.
Deputy Sports Minister Avgenakis described the Athens Marathon as a major celebration that contributed not only to sport and culture but also to the local economy. “It is a challenge both economically and in terms of tourism and sport,” he said.
“We have excellent numbers. An event that exceeds 45,000 entries and manages to bring together representatives from 92 countries and 126 nationalities… gathers more than 3,500 volunteers… and over 20,000 travelers is the result of successful planning,” said Avgenakis.
Athens Authentic Marathon retraces the run of an ancient Athenian courier
The major run traces the steps of Pheidippides, a news-bearing foot soldier from ancient Athens, who announced – with his last words – the victory of the Greeks against the Persians during the Marathon Battle in 490 BC.
According to Herodotus, known as the Father of History, Pheidippides did a much more extraordinary feat. He had run from Marathon to Sparta and back – a distance of over 300 miles- to seek Spartan help in defeating the invading Persians.
But according to the first version of the story, which unaccountably gained more traction over the years, the military courier ran from the battlefield at Marathon northeast of the Greek capital and then collapsed and died afterward.
The Marathon race became the top event in the modern Olympics
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.