That gunshot which sets the hearts of thousands of runners racing!!!
Have you ever thought of running the world’s best marathon?
Which is the best?
Authentic is ALWAYS the best!!!
The Athens Authentic Marathon route originally run by the messenger of war and first ever professional runner Phidippides, after the Greeks victoriously won the battle of Marathon in 490 BC.
The Persians were mighty and undefeatable at the time. They were feared by the whole world and when they began moving in on Athens from Marathon, the Athenians had to act very fast if they wanted to defend their City State.
The Athenian leaders sent Phidippides, to run to Sparta- a different City State at the time with whom Athens had an excellent relationship with – to ask for their support. The Persians were a major threat and there was no way they could defeat such an army on their own.
Phidippides ran all the 490km from Athens to Sparta but unfortunately, the Spartans could not leave until the full moon; a whole seven days later. Religious beliefs were very strong in those days before Christianity. People believed in the twelve gods of Olympus, they worshipped the stars, the sun and the moon, etc.
The runner, Phidippides had to run all the way back to Athens in order to give the Athenians the disappointing news.
Time was running out and General Miltiades came up with an excellent plan. His strategy proved successful and the Greeks defeated the Persians at Marathon. However, General Miltiades suspected that the Persians had retreated and planned to enter Athens from elsewhere. He ordered Phidippides to quickly run 42km from Marathon to Athens to tell them of their victory but also to warn them in case the enemy had planned to attack from another area.
Phidippides, already exhausted from the two-day run from Athens to Sparta, the other two days from Sparta to Athens, fighting the Persians at Marathon and then running 42 km to Athens, finally arrives in Athens and as soon as he uttered the words, “Nenikikamen” – meaning we have won – collapsed and never regained consciousness.
In 1896, during the first Olympic Games in Greece, the first Marathon race took place to honor the world’s first professional runner – Phidippides.
Had the Persians not been defeated by the Greeks, the whole of Europe would now be completely different.
Thousands of runners come to Athens every November to run the authentic marathon – to run in this great runner’s footsteps.
Some others take on the run he did from Athens to Sparta and back – the Spartathlon!!! This is for the select few – a massive achievement!!!
Last year, in 2020, the marathon was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Hopefully, the event will take place again this year as thousands of runners are already training for this tough, perhaps the toughest route. It is 42.195m but half of which is mainly uphill. If you have not trained well enough, it is a life-threatening risk taking it on.
The race starts at Marathon and ends at the Olympic Stadium – the Kallimarmaro stadium. Entering the stadium after having run the route is an experience of a lifetime. The emotions of exhaustion mingled with triumph and pride are beyond words.
If you are a runner, I am certain that the Athens Authentic Marathon is on your bucket list…