Athens Classic Marathon

The Athens Classic Marathon gets its elegant name from the fact that it takes place on the route where, according to the legend, the very first marathon in the world appeared. In 490 BC a giant Persian army arrived in the small town of Marathon near the coast of Greece in order to smack the Greeks to pieces. But no, the Greek army were too much of a handful for the cheeky Persians, and the agile youngster Pheidippides was sent to Athens to bring over the news of the victory. The young Greek ran the 42 km from the battlefield to the capital as fast as he could, announced his joyous message, and died. This is according to legend the reason we have something called marathons today, and the race in Athens is the only one that can boast a truly original course. Apart from the obvious connection to the legend of poor Pheidippides, the Athens Classic Marathon is dedicated to Gregoris Lambrakis, a Greek athlete and Member of Parliament who after his politically motivated assassination in 1963 has become a national symbol of democracy and social justice.
The history of the Athens Classic Marathon doesn’t go as far back as the history of the marathon distance itself. On October 31 2010, it is run for the 28th time. So far, the marathon field has been made up of about 4,000 runners; a relatively small field which still allows for marathoners to enjoy the uniqueness of running with 2,500 years of history under their feet. For runners who wish to experience a little history in the city that gave birth to western civilization, but don’t fancy a 42 km run in hilly Attica, the Athens Classic Marathon also features a 5 and a 10 km run – both starting and finishing in the Panathinaiko Stadium. In addition to this, it is possible to walk the entire marathon route if you start out 2 hours before the runners begin.
The Athens Classic Marathon probably isn’t the best race to go PB hunting, as the course is rather challenging with the start line near the sea and the finish line in central Athens at 110 m above sea level. Along the way, runners will have to climb a number of hills, including the base of Mount Pendeli. The marathon ends in the Panathinaiko Stadium built entirely in white marble for the first modern Olympics in 1896. The marble stadium is located on the same spot where remains of an ancient stadium used for the original Olympic Games in ancient Greece were excavated. So what the course lacks in flatness, it certainly makes up for in historic significance. One of the most popular marathons in Europe and by far the most popular run in Greece.
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