Thousands of participants of all ages and backgrounds joined the 11th Athens Half-Marathon and two associated races in the Greek capital on Sunday.
The running event was co-organised by the Hellenic Athletics Federation (SEGAS) and the City of Athens.
Besides the main race of 21 kms for 8.000 runners, it included a Family Run for 500 children and 500 adults and the OPAP 5km Road Race for another 10.000 runners, which were also open for people with disabilities.
Athens Half-Marathon winners
Participants in the Half-Marathon started their circular run at 9.00 am from the Monument to the Unknown Soldier at Syntagma Square.
Panagiotis Karaiskos finished first in the men’s race and became Half-Marathon champion for the 5th consecutive year, while Ismini Panagiotopoulou won the women’s race.
The debut Family Run of the Athens Half-Marathon was scheduled for a 9.30 am start at Vassilissis Sofias across from Benaki Museum, and return to Syntagma.
It was open to children aged 6-11, and also to people with disabilities and/or Special Olympics athletes regardless of their age.
Among the runners with disabilities, Achilleas Tsakiltsidis and Dimitra Loukaki finished first and second respectively in the Half-Marathon distance.
The last race of the day was the OPAP 5km Road Race, open to anyone aged over 12.
It started at 11.45 from Syntagma Square near Mitropoleos street, running past the Hilton Hotel to return through Panepistimiou street and end up at Syntagma.
Giorgos Stamoulis and Maria Kassou finished first, in the men’s and women’s 5km run respectively.
Kassou dedicated the win to a late high school teacher of hers, who had encouraged her to never give up her passion for running, despite her demanding studies in medicine.
Marathon running tradition in Athens
Modern-day Marathon races were inspired by the ancient Greek legend of Pheidippides, a messenger who is said to have run from the battlefield Marathon to Athens to bring news of the Greek victory over the Persians at the Battle of Marathon, and collapsed dead of exhaustion as soon as he accomplished his mission.
The Athens Classic Marathon, also known as The Authentic Marathon, covers the full 42km course and has been held in early November since 1972.
The course begins in the town of Marathon, where it passes the tomb of the Athenian soldiers, and it traces a path near the coast through Nea Makri. Following a steep rise, it goes slightly downhill towards the city of Athens, and through the city centre before finishing up at the Panathinaiko Stadium.
The Athens Half-Marathon, which is organised by the International Association of Marathon Races and Distance Running (AIMS), was established in 2012.
It is held on the 3rd Sunday of March, at the beginning of spring in Greece.
The event aims to attract thousands of experienced runners from Greece and abroad, as well as anyone who might want to experience what it means to participate in a popular running event.