Athens is set to host its 38th Classic Marathon this weekend with the shorter race taking place on Saturday the 13th and the longer course on Sunday the 14th of November 2021.
The popular event is recognised as the world’s original modern marathon, attracting thousands of participants and spectators from around the globe.
“After two years of absence for all our racing events, SEGAS (Hellenic Athletics Federation) is returning with a top event for Greece and the whole world,” the Federation’s President, Sofia Sakorafa, said during a press conference in Athens.
A total of 30,000 runners will participate in the 42km course and the 10km and 5km races under strict application of the safety protocol for sports events, announced Sakorafa, adding that only the fully vaccinated runners and those with proof of recovery from COVID-19 are allowed to participate in this year’s event.
The Athens Marathon is run entirely on asphalt beginning at the small town of Marathon and the finish line is in Athens’ magnificent Olympic Stadium.
According to the organisers, the Athens Marathon allows runners the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Greek soldier Pheidippides who first ran the 42 km route from the battlefield of Marathon beach to Athens in 490 BC.
It is said that Pheidippides ran from the aftermath of the Battle of Marathon straight to Athens- eager to let all Athenians know about the victory against the Persians. Entering the gates of the ancient city, he is said to have uttered the word ‘’nenikēkamen!” which means “We’ve won,” at this stage he is said to have fallen on his knees in exhaustion – and sadly died.
The distance between Marathon and Athens is around 42 km, as Pheidippides set out and endured what is now a distance completed by hundreds of thousands of runners around the world every year.
Since the revival of the Olympic Games and the Marathon race in the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896, thousands of runners have participated in the authentic course. In 2019, a record 60,000 participants from 105 countries and regions participated; and organisers anticipate the numbers will be back up again in 2022.
All runners crossing the finish line this year will receive a collective medal designed by prominent Greek sculptor Costas Varotsos. It is the second in a series of special medals, which will be handed to runners every year until 2026, which will be the 130th anniversary of the first Marathon race of modern times.