The “Athens Marathon. The Authentic,” a five-star certified road race by European Athletics Running for All will go ahead on the traditional route from the village of Marathon to Athens on 11 November without changes despite the devastating fires affecting parts of the course in the summer.
The course, which is essentially the same as in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, leads through the town of Mati which was in the centre of the tragedy in July.
In the weeks before the 36th edition, the Hellenic Athletics Federation (SEGAS) is launching a project inviting its official sponsors and partners help revive coastal areas of Attica devastated by wildfires in late July. While the name of the project is “Runners’ Forest“, the concept is for a “green revival“, purchasing and planting trees for four kilometres along the marathon course in the village of Mati, between 12 to 16 kilometres into the race. The overall death toll is estimated to be approximately 100 in what was one of the worst cases of fire devastation this century.
The project aims to raise funds from event sponsors and partners to complement the initial contribution from the Hellenic Athletics Federation. Decisions about the kind of trees to be bought and where and when they should be planted in public areas would be coordinated with official state agencies and relevant experts.
Runners taking part in this year’s race will have their chance to promote awareness of this project. On race day, each participant will be given a green bandana or headband to wear when they run through the burned-out areas around the village of Mati. The aim is to create a “Runners’ Forest” of a green revival in the aftermath of devastation.
It is also hoped that in winter and spring 2019, volunteers and local runners - given the agreement of state and local authorities - will join in planting trees bought by this fundraising in the affected area, thereby creating a permanent “Runners’ Forest”.
Meanwhile the Athens Marathon has received record entry numbers across the programme. Some 18,750 have entered the historic marathon, beginning as usual in the coastal town of Marathon while a total of 55,000 will be involved over a variety of distances. Both figures are record entries and the latter is the maximum the event can hold in its present form. Discussions are already underway to assess what changes might be made to allow more participants in future years, starting with 2019.
The victor’s laurels are always hard earned for the men’s and women’s champions when they are presented in the Panathenaic Stadium, given the demanding course, but they - and thousands of their fellow runners who cross the finish line in Athens this year - should have even more reason to appreciate the unique nature of their experience.
The European Athletics Quality Road Race standards act as an assurance for road runners throughout Europe. They distinguish between races that respect the standards and those that haven’t sought certification or assessment. They form the foundation of Running for All, a strong, recognisable brand for running activities throughout Europe.
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