Greek togas, Spartan soldiers and laurel sprigs were a key feature of the Athens Classic Marathon. Many participants chose to dress up for this historically significant event which marked 2500 years since the first person in history ran the 26 mile marathon distance.

Greek soldier Pheidippides was tasked with running from Marathon to Athens to pass news of victory in the 490BC battle against the Persians.  The battle and victory gave Athenians a faith in their destiny which endured for three centuries, during which time western democracy was born.
It is said that a defeat of the Athenians in this battle could have changed the tide of history.

 

His run led to a race called the marathon, introduced at the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 to challenge man's powers of endurance.

This year entries in the annual Athens Classic Marathon - limited to 20,000 - sold out within days.  

The present course from Marathon to Athens follows the route of that first Olympic marathon - and it's tough.  Soon after the start the route goes uphill for about 21km, or half the distance.  The good news is that the last 10-15km are gently downhill but it is, nevertheless, a challenging run.

 

This year the men's and women's race records were broken in some surprising results.

 

The unheralded Raymond Bett of Kenya broke the men's record, clocking 2.12.40 and taking two seconds off the time run by his compatriot Paul Lekuraa two years ago.

 

Rasa Drazdauskaite of Lithuania was even more of a surprise.  A world class runner, Drazdauskaite was competing in the concurrent World Military Championships and not listed among the elite.  Her finish in 2.31.06, took over two minutes off the women's record of 2.33.19, set by Svetlana Ponomarenko of Russia in 2007.

 

Runners from throughout the world travelled to Athens for the marathon and the city turned on its best autumn weather, with blue skies, sunshine, warm temperatures and occasional pleasant breezes.

Supporters at the finish in the equally historic Panathinaiko Stadium roared as runners entered the stadium for their final metres, while a mix of traditional Greek music and rousing popular music had everyone ready to party at the end.

The first marathon run cost Pheidippides his life but for those undertaking the distance now, a marathon has become a lifestyle.

 

www.athensclassicmarathon.gr

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