athens riviera
Athens Marathon athlete finishing line

Every autumn, there is a day when thousands of people run the biggest race of their lives

And when you can’t stand it anymore, you’ll come across someone cheering you on, with a ‘bravo’, a ‘let’s go’, an applause...that will replenish your energy.

All the things that accompany a race, the music, the volunteers, the feelings of empowerment, make you want to give it your all.

In competition, performance is almost always better. The feeling that you are a part of such a significant event together with a crowd of people, gives you a lot of energy.” 

Whoever you ask about the Athens Marathon will give you an impassioned answer. They will talk about the power within each person and how little is needed to ultimately realise one’s potential. How a simple expression of encouragement is incentive enough for someone to accomplish this feat of endurance called the Marathon. This race proclaims the power of the human will. 

This year too, with the only reward being the joy of participation and ultimately completion, 35,000 runners will take part in the 32nd Athens Marathon, the Authentic. They will run 42,195 metres, following the traditional route, from the town of Marathon, in northeastern Attica, to the Panathenaic Stadium in the centre of Athens. They will run along the original route that the runner Pheidippides took in 490 BC, carrying the message of victory of the Athenians against the Persians in the Battle of Marathon. 

Pheidippides exclaimed ‘We won!’ and then died from exhaustion. In modern history, this gruelling route was named ‘Marathon’, and was established as an endurance event in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. The idea belonged to the French linguist and Hellenist Michel Bréal. It is said that although he was the one to make the proposal, he didn’t know the actual distance between Athens and Marathon. When he was finally informed, he wanted to back out, but it was too late. The proposal had already been approved and the race that tests the limits of human endurance had been born. The winner of the first official Marathon was the Greek national Spyros Louis, with a time of 2:58:50. 

Now, the joy of participation in the Athens Marathon belongs to not just professional athletes, but to amateur runners of all ages, from all over the world. Musicians and dance troupes create a festive atmosphere surrounding the sporting event, and altogether contribute to a magical day, full of positive energy and messages of hope, that is called “Athens Marathon, the Authentic”.