In an all-time record of participants from 105 countries, the 34th Athens Marathon began this morning, with 50,000 registered athletes who will race in different course lengths throughout the day.
Dedicated to the memory of Balkan champion and peace fighter Grigoris Lambrakis, this year’s run coincides with the 120th anniversary of the first modern Olympics Games held in Athens in 1896, where the first modern marathon debuted. It also coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Boston Marathon, at which Greek runner Stelios Kyriakides took first place.
The Marathon follows the historic route of Pheidippides, the legendary and heroic dispatch runner who movingly ran an estimated 40 km in 490 BC to bring Athens news of Greece’s victory against the Persians at Marathon. He subsequently expired from exhaustion.
Among the notable runners participating in this year’s marathon are Lucas Lobouvan, who will attempt to break the course record, with a personal best of 8.2.12.
Given the record number of participants at this year’s Athens Marathon, the Athletics Federation has organized a second race to take place this afternoon for those who will take part in the 5km course.
“We’re happy this year to have more than 50,000 runners…. We want the Athens Marathon to be the most important cultural and sports festival in the world,” stated the Athletics Federation chief Kostas Panagopoulos last Saturday in an interview. “We estimate this leaves the city an amount of around 15 million euros, which benefits not only the tourism industry, but also Athens’ daily life,” he told reporters.