A record number of 16,000-plus runners ran the classic course on Sunday 8 November from the town of Marathon to the 1896 Olympic Stadium in the heart of Athens, which was the route used for the 1997 IAAF World Championships and 2004 Olympic Games.
And the 2004 Olympics bring back fond memories for Panagiotis Dimakos, Vice President of the Hellenic Amateur Athletics Association.
“I have to say that the most important moment for the Authentic Marathon of Athens was during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games when the record was broken with 2:10.37,” Dimakos recalls.
It was an absolutely amazing moment when a record was broken during the ultimate Greek race in the ultimate Greek Games, taking place in their home territory.”
In total 43,000 runners took part in all the running events on offer over 7-8 November, which included the marathon, a 10km road race, morning and afternoon 5km road races as well as a kid’s run.
This year's edition took on a slightly different format than usual. In light of the economic challenges facing the country and its people, the Hellenic Athletics Federation (SEGAS) has decided to forego inviting an elite field in the marathon in order to concentrate on a race for mass runners, including the 5km and 10km road races which complete the day’s programme.
Parts of the money saved will be used to further improve services and entertainment for the mass runners, but organisers hope this gesture will unite runners from around the world to run the Athens Marathon in solidarity with the Greek people at this testing time.
The Authentic Marathon of Athens took place for the first time in 1983 and has been an annual event ever since. The race follows the same route that the soldier Pheidippides ran in 490 BC to announce to the Athenians that their army was Victorious. That battle changed the course of the war between the Greeks and the Persians, whose aim was to enslave the people of the East Mediterranean.
Starting out with the bare minimum of participants, the race now welcomes thousands of runners from more than 100 countries.
As for the European Athletics Running for All standards, Dimakos is pleased with how the Athens Marathon compares with other races.
“I am extremely satisfied that the Authentic Marathon of Athens has the greatest security and credibility that a road-running event could have, thus being awarded a well-deserved 5-star rating. Our continuous efforts resulted in achieving the 5-star accreditation; we have striven long and hard to develop the race and to be able to offer the highest quality of services to the athletes.
“The standards of Running for All are of the utmost importance for the road-running movement because they allow the runners to understand the level of the race which they wish to compete in. That gives them the opportunity to select the race they want to participate in based on objective criteria free of bias and negative influence.”
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