Across all events, an estimated 51,000 runners from around the world took part in the 35th edition of the ‘Athens Marathon. The Authentic’ on Sunday (12). Not only is the event the biggest road race in Greece, it has also been rewarded with a five-star certification from European Athletics Running for All.
While the majority of entrants opted for the shorter distances on the programme, approximately 18,500 runners set out on the classic course from the village of Marathon to the Panathinaiko Stadium which staged the first modern summer Olympic Games in 1896.
The course is based on the legend of Pheidippides - a messenger in Ancient Greece - who ran from the Battle of Marathon to the Greek capital to announce the Greeks' victory over the Persians before collapsing dead due to exhaustion. The course is renowned as one of the toughest on the international road running circuit with a notoriously steep uphill section from the 10km to 31km checkpoint, followed by a downhill section towards the finish-line.
The marathon remains an enduringly popular fixture with runners from overseas. More than 1000 runners travelled from the United Kingdom and Italy to take part in this year’s edition and there was also strong representation from the United States, France and Germany. Other athletes travelled from countries such as Brazil, South Korea, New Zealand and Vietnam.
In warm conditions with the thermometer already reading 20C at the start-time of 9.00am, Kenya’s Samuel Kalalei won the men’s race in 2:12:17 from teammates Milton Rotich (2:14:18) and Jonathan Kiptoo (2:16:08). “This was no easy race,” said the winners, alluding to both the conditions and the course.
In the women’s race, Ethiopia’s Bedatu Hirpa crossed the finish-line in 2:34:18 ahead of Kenyans Alice Kibor (2:34:22) and Nancy Arusei (2:34:51) although the runner-up opined the course wasn’t too challenging. “I’m happy with second place and enjoyed the course. The hills aren’t as hard as the ones we have in Kenya. I will come back to Athens and run here again,” said Kibor.
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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