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On the track of the marathon myth

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Running the Athens Marathon once in lifetime is a must for every passionate runner. Being on the track of the marathon myth with the finish line in the historic Panathinaiko Stadium makes the Athens Marathon deservedly an “Authentic” experience.

For me as an editor of Runner’s World Germany this journey of course represents a very special appeal. Although I did not have any marathon experience yet (the 42.195 kilometers from Marathon to Athens are currently out of the question due to injury problems), the excitement was huge. Although I only started running four years ago and became a good runner since then, I do not want to miss this kind of sports with all its ups and downs.

And also an extensive coverage for Runner’s World is taken for granted. On the website of Runner’s World readers will find some general information about the marathon, my experience report about the race and the whole weekend as well as two videos of the run and the awards ceremony of the runner of the year.

Running the Athens Marathon once in lifetime is a must for every passionate runner.

I did not run the full marathon distance. The 10-km run was enough. The starting point was just two metro stations away from the hotel, on the edge of the National Garden. Therefore, I could sleep up to two and a half hours before the race started, despite the quite early start at 8:45 clock. The more than 7,000 finishers started slightly downhill and one kilometer later the light but constant ascent began at 5,8 kilometers. Although we had up to 24 degrees in the afternoon and a cloudless sky, the temperatures at the 10-km run were not that warm yet.

Nonetheless, my legs started to feel heavy and the slope felt steeper than the height profile promised. However, running in Athens is not just about fast times, but more about the marathon myth and the unique arrival at the finish and I was therefore looking forward to the finish line in the Olympic Stadium of 1896, where the first modern Olympic Games took part.

Photo Credit: Patrick Brucker

Suddenly my legs became as light as a feather and I was on a roll. Running the last approximately 150 meters into the Panathinaiko Stadium was just overwhelming. About two and a half millennia after Pheidippides’ 42 km run from Marathon to Athens and 119 years after the finish of the first Olympic marathon champion Spyros Louis, I had the privilege – just as once every year tens of thousands other runners – to run to the finish at this historic place. The fact that the stopwatch stopped at 37:31 minutes, barely a minute later as I had planned, was forgotten and did not matter. I enjoyed the moment and felt as part of the history of the long-distance run.

The day before, I enjoyed a nice program, which rounded off the trip, despite the short time in Athens. Guides led me from the Acropolis Museum, over the Philopappos hill up to the most beautiful parts of modern Athens. Unfortunately, there was no time left for an extensive visit of the Acropolis and its museum, but I would highly recommend it to tourists in Athens. The Philopappos hill is a well-kept secret. Only a small waiting line in comparison to the Acropolis and a breathtaking 360-degree view on Athens reward the short climb.

Even the great view on the Acropolis can be enjoyed from many perspectives. Nevertheless, the young street art not far from the two hills will as well tantalize interested people just as the great restaurants and bars, which are sometimes less visible from outside. There is also a museum in the Panathinaiko Stadium, where all those get their money’s worth who are interested in sports and are fans of Olympia.

After my first almost three days in Greece or in Athens, I can say that this city is definitely worth a visit – and one day I will come back for the entire 42.195 km from Marathon to Athens.