Athens' Annual Authentic Marathon to take place today



Athens popular annual Authentic Marathon will formally begin at 9 am on Sunday morning in Marathonas, the town identified with ancient Marathon, where Persians fought the Athenians and lost the battle in 490 BC and from where legend has it a messengerĀ ran to Athens with the victory's news, beforeĀ collapsing and dying from exhaustion.

The award ceremony for the winners in the men's and women's division is scheduled at the Panathenaic Stadium at 12:00 noon, with the race continuing until later in the afternoon.

This year's events were spread over two days, with smaller races on Saturday and Sunday, from 5km to 10km, and devoted to all, to children, and to Special Olympics athletes.

Some of the statistics for the annual race are given below:

- The total length of Marathon race: 42.19km (26.1m)

- Municipalities involved: Marathonas-Nea Makri, Rafina-Pikermi, Spata-Artemis, Pallini, Agia Paraskevi, Halandri, Filothei-Psychico

- Number of registered runners: 60,000 (several are also running in other smaller races over the weekend)

- Number of children participating in children's races: Nearly 6,000

- New fact for main Marathon race: All runners in this Marathon and those for the next 8 years will be presented with a medallion which will carry one of the eight letters of the word 'Marathon', so that whoever runs in all eight years will have a complete set, in time for the race's 130th anniversary in 2026. The design will include aspects of the race and be by well-known Greek artists.

- Number of volunteers: Over 3,500 (of these, 1,500 are first-time volunteers)

- Live music events will be held at several municipalities involved in the race. In Athens, the main stages are at Mavili Square and at the Venizelos statue next to the Athens Concert Hall, while DJs will be working at several other spots.

- Fastest speeds recorded for this distance: For men, Felix Kadi Kipchirchir (Kenya), 2:10:37 at Athens Authentic Marathon of November 9, 2011. For women, Mizuko Noguchi (Japan), 2:26:20 at Athens Olympic Games on August 22, 2004. Kipchirchir holds the record for Marathons, while Rasa Drazdauskaite (Lithuania) holds the record for Marathons for women, with 2:31:06 at the Athens Authentic Marathon of October 30, 2010.

- Fastest Greeks recorded for the distance: For men, Nikos Polias at 2:17: (Olympic Games, 2004). For women, Maria Polyzou 2:33:40 (Budapest, 1998)

- In the 36 Athens Marathons held so far, two Greeks and two Kenyans have won more than once. Kenya has won the race 15 times, Greece 11.

- All Athens Marathons are dedicated to Grigoris Lambrakis, a Balkan athlete, doctor, and MP who had held a one-man protest peace march in 1963, during which he was arrested and tortured. Soon after he was attacked at a peace rally and died of his injuries in May 1963.