The Athens Marathon started in 1972 by cooperation between the Greek tourist board and International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). The race has achieved widespread popularity and since 1983 it has been awarded the Gold Label Road Race award by IAAF. It is one of the most important events in the world and runners from all over the world participate in it. Traditionally the Greek competitors have always been strong in such competitions but since 1999, the race has largely been dominated by runners from East Africa. The current record for men’s category at the Athens Marathon stands at 2:10:37 which was set recently in 2014 by Felix Kandie. While the record at this race for women’s category stands at 2:31:06 which was set in 2010 by Rasa Drazdauskaite.
Importance of Athens Marathon.
There is no other marathon in the world like Athens Marathon. According to legends, the Athens Marathon route covers the same ground which Phiedippides, the Athenian messenger ran 2,500 years ago bringing the news of victory over the Persians at the Battle of Marathon. The 2005 edition of the Athens Marathon was combined with the 2500th anniversary of the famous Battle of Marathon.
Moreover the finish line of the Athens Marathon is inside the great Olympic Stadium. It is regarded as the birthplace of modern day Olympics games. People who participate in this marathon say that they had an experience of lifetime.
Athens Marathon Route.
The Athens Marathon route starts in the town of Marathon. Here it passes by the tomb of the Athenian soldiers. Then the race traces a path along Nea Makri, along the coast. After the steep rise, the course takes a downhill path while moving towards Athens. The course her passes by the statue of a runner before it finishes at the Panathinaiko Stadium. Since ancient times it has been a site for athletic competitions. It also was the finishing point for the 1986 as well as 2004 Olympic marathons.
The main highlight of the course includes the Athens Music Hall, Liberty Park, Katehaki Bridge, the Museum of Cycladic Arts, the War Museum and the presidential residency. The Athens Marathon as regarded as one of the most difficult marathons in the world. This is because of the fact that it takes an uphill course for around 21 km. About 26.2 km of the whole course is run on asphalt. 15 refreshment zones are installed along the route. The runners can get bottled water from there and use toilets. Support staff is also present along the route and the refreshment zones.
The participation in the Athens Marathon has been on the rise. It can be realised from the fact that in 2014 there were about 43,000 competitors and in the most recent 2016 marathon that number had risen to 50,000. As far as the prize money is concerned, the authorities are not offering nay monetary prize to winners. In 2014 the prize money was around EUR 27,000, but it was discontinued due to financial problems.
Events at Athens Marathon.
Following are the events that take place in the Athens Marathon.
- Marathon Race
- Power Walking
- 5 Km Road Race- Morning
- 5 Km Road Race- Afternoon
- 10 Km Road Race
- Special Olympics Race
- Kids Race
To be able to participate in the main marathon event you must be 18 years old. In 5 km and 10 km road races the age limit is 12 years, but parental authorisation is required for those below 18 years old. The Special Olympics Race is for disabled and special people. The starting point for the 5 km road race is Panathinaikon Stadium and also ends there. The 5 km and 10 km road race start before the main event. The starting point for 10 Km race is also the same stadium. The runners run 5 km opposite to the track of marathon and then turn back to run 5 km toward the stadium. The 5 km and 10 km road race start before the main event, while the main marathon event starts at 9 am.
If you are looking to participate in the Athens Marathon, it is certainly going to be an awesome experience. Though there may not be any prize money but it does not get better than running on the same course which the Athenian messenger ran and finishing the race in the birthplace of Olympic games. It will be a great chance for you to prove yourself on the same track. The crowd is also supportive and cheers on as the runners pass by. This will be a lifetime experience which any marathon runner should not miss.