The Athens Classic Marathon is one of the most important sport events hosted by the city of Athens. Thousands of runners from all over the world participate in every year’s race. Apart from the sportive event, they have the chance to enjoy the Greek hospitality, to discover the fascinating landscape and to explore a city which is constantly improving its standards.
The Marathon Race has its roots in Antiquity. It all started since the Persian wars, when the Persians tried to occupy the Greek cities. One of the most important battles in Greek history took place in Marathon, northeast of Athens, in 498 BC. In this crucial battle, the Athenians managed to defeat the Persians, who normally were much stronger. Following the legend, the soldier Phidippides was asked to run from the battlefield to Athens, in order to announce their victory. He ran 42,195 kilometers from Marathon to Athens without any stop. As a messenger, he also had to run armed. As soon as he entered the assembly, he cried out “we won” and immediately after that he fell down and died. Many centuries later, the marathon race was established in honor of Phidippides.
This race did not exist during antiquity. It was established during the first modern Olympic Games, organized in Athens in 1896. The French Professor, Michel Bréal , is credited with the idea of the marathon race. He was also a friend of Pierre de Coubertin, who proposed the revival of the Olympic Games. The winner of the first Marathon was Spyros Louis, a water-carrier from Maroussi (you can find a statue of him in the Municipality of Maroussi (*) and the Maroussi municipal sport complex is also named after him).
Today the Marathon race is held in many major cities around the world, but there is only one “Authentic Marathon”, taking place every year in Athens, beginning of November. The starting point is in Marathon itself, a small village. At the 5th km, the athletes make a loop and run around the Marathon Tomb (a monument to honor the soldiers killed in the Persian battle) and then continue onto the Marathon Avenue, connecting the village of Marathon with Athens. The route passes through many municipalities: Nea Makri, Pikermi, Pallini, Agia Paraskevi etc. The last kilometer of the route the runners pass from the Vassilissis Sofias avenue, where athletes run along the American Embassy, the Megaron Concert Hall and the National Gallery. The finishing point is at the Panathinaiko Stadium or Kallimarmaro, the beautiful stadium where the first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896.