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Runners From Across the Globe Unite in Greece for 39th Athens Marathon

The Kallimarmaro Stadium in Athens. Photo source: SEGAS

More than 45,000 amateur and professional runners from 92 countries and 3,500 volunteers will be participating in this year’s “Athens Marathon, the Authentic” (AMA) on Sunday as Greece hosts one of the largest running events in the world.

The 42km race which traces the footsteps of ancient Greek messenger Pheidippides who ran from Marathon to Athens to convey the news of Greece’s victory over the Persians in 490 BC, is expected to boost state coffers by 20 million euros.

OPAP Marathon Expo

The inauguration event of the OPAP Marathon Expo. Photo source: SEGAS

In the runup to the event, Hellenic Athletics Federation (SEGAS) President Sofia Sakorafa inaugurated the country’s largest sport show at the OPAP Marathon Expo marking the official start of the Athens Marathon four-day celebrations.

Sakorafa, Deputy Sports Minister Lefteris Avgenakis and Marathon Mayor Stergios Tsikras joined a panel of guests which included Greek long-distance runners Kostas Gkelaouzos and Katerina Asimakopoulou.

The first ‘green’ marathon in Europe

Photo source: SEGAS / Yiorgos Kontarinis-EUROKINISSI

Photo source: SEGAS / Yiorgos Kontarinis-EUROKINISSI

“We’ve entered the final stretch of the leading marathon with innovations that are of huge importance for the race. Among these, making the Athens Marathon the first ‘green’ marathon in Europe,” said Sakorafa.

This year AMA will include an environmental awareness program, free transfers of runners during the four days of events, a university run to unite students from around the world, and the “Authentic Talk” – a new conference bringing together top sports figures who will share views and experiences that will highlight the values of sport. The 1st Authentic Talk will take place on Friday at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center.

SEGAS President Sofia Sakorafa and Deputy Sports Minister Lefteris Avgenakis (center). Photo source: SEGAS / Antonis Nikolopoulos-EUROKINISSI.

Avgenakis described the Athens Marathon as a major celebration that contributed not only to sport and culture but also to the local economy. “It is a challenge both economically and in terms of tourism and sport,” he said.

“We have excellent numbers. An event that exceeds 45,000 entries and manages to bring together representatives from 92 countries and 126 nationalities… gathers more than 3,500 volunteers… and over 20,000 travelers is the result of successful planning,” said Avgenakis, adding that an estimated 20 million euros will be generated.

“A well-organized sporting event showcases the sport but at the same time the entire country,” he said referring to other events held this year in Greece including the Rally Acropolis and the International Cycling Tour.

Marathon Mayor: Important addition this year

Marathon Mayor Stergios Tsikras. Photo source: SEGAS / Antonis Nikolopoulos-EUROKINISSI

Marathon Mayor Stergios Tsikras. Photo source: SEGAS / Antonis Nikolopoulos-EUROKINISSI

Meanwhile, Mayor Tsikras said Marathon was ready to host the grand celebration of sports and to cheer on and support the athletes with events along the marathon route.

“This year we have an important addition to the Opening Ceremony, apart from the established ritual, students from our schools will participate for the first time staging a ‘Battle of Marathon’ theatrical,” he said.

Fans, spectators and runner support teams can also download a free mobile app where users can follow runners via live tracking, get useful info and suggestions for the day of the race, use selfie frames for their photos, and receive notifications about the event’s latest news. Download the “Athens Marathon and Half” app from Google Play or the App Store.

For information on the marathon’s races, press here.

The Greek Travel Pages (GTP) is a communication sponsor of the 39th Athens Marathon, the Authentic.

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About the Author
Chicago-born and raised, Maria Paravantes has over two decades of journalistic experience covering tourism and travel, gastronomy, arts, music and culture, economy and finance, politics, health and social issues for international press and media. She has worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Billboard Magazine, Time Out Athens, the Athens News, Odyssey Magazine and, among others. She has also served as Special Advisor to Greece’s minister of Foreign Affairs, and to the mayor of Athens on international press and media issues. Maria is currently a reporter, content and features writer for GTP Headlines.

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