The development of the ‘Athens Marathon. The Authentic’ appears unstoppable. The birthplace of the marathon is also increasingly at the heart of the contemporary running movement and the most historic of races is also a five-star certified road race from European Athletics Running for All.
Over 2500 years after the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE and almost 125 years since the first Olympic Marathon in Athens in 1896, the Athens Marathon has once again achieved a significant participation record.
Organised under the auspices of the Hellenic Athletics Federation, the organisers of the 37th edition of the race expect to welcome a record 20,000 marathon runners from around the world for the first time to run on the original course from Marathon to Athens. This would surpass last year’s figures of 18,750.
Adding running events at shorter distances, more than 60,000 athletes will run through the Attica region and Athens. This record total puts the Athens Marathon among the biggest running events anywhere in the world.
The marathon race begins in its historic setting of the town of Marathon. After a fairly level start which takes in a detour around the memorial to the Battle of Marathon, the infamous 20 kilometre climb follows up to the 31 kilometre mark before the course leads the runners down to Athens and to the finish line in the old Panathenaic Olympic Stadium.
The beautiful Marble Stadium of the first Modern Olympic Games of 1896 is the finishing point for all competitions. The marathon course of 42.195km, officially measured by the IAAF and AIMS, is practically identical with that of the 1896 Olympic Marathon and corresponds exactly to the course for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
No site could have more marathon history and for this reason the Athens Marathon was the first marathon along with Boston to be awarded the IAAF Heritage Plaque by the IAAF this year.
The growth and popularity of the Athens Marathon is such that the event now spans the entire weekend. An addition to the programme is the 10km which takes place on the Saturday and has already attracted more than 10,000 entrants. The programme also includes a popular 5km on the Sunday as well as races for children and families.
The Athens Marathon is also well-known for supporting humanitarian causes and the organisers took great efforts last year to implement the “Runner’s Forest” projects to assist towns and villages on the course which had been impacted by forest fires during the summer.
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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