The 34th Athens Classic Marathon came to Greece last weekend. This year's race, held on Nov. 13, marked 120 years since the first contemporary marathon race during the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. The marathon also celebrated 70 years since Greek runner Stelios Kyriakides won the Boston Marathon — one of the major Greece's biggest athletic successes internationally.
The Athens Classic honors the ancient course of an Athenian hoplite after the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE, bringing the message of victory against Persia to Athens.
Apart from the classic 42-kilometer route, there were also the smaller 5-kilometer and 10-kilometer routes, power walking, a kids’ race, and a Special Olympics race.
Every year, the number of participants grows, attracting runners — both professional and amateur — of all ages and backgrounds. The year, a record 50,000 people took part in the marathon, according to Hellenic Athletics Federation.
50.000 άνθρωποι χαίρονται τη συμμετοχή, με τον τροπο που ο καθένας θέλει και μπορεί #AthensMarathonpic.twitter.com/Uk96Di2vmj
— Δήμαρχος Αθηναίων (@AthensMayor) November 13, 2016
50,000 people enjoy their participation [in the Marathon], every way each one desires and is able to do so.
Many volunteers also joined the event, making use of a new online registration system.
The winner of this competition was 28-year-old Kenyan Luka Rotich Lobuwan, who ran 42 kilometers from Marathon City to Athens in 2 hours, 12 minutes, and 49 seconds. The runners-up were another two men from Kenya, Kipruto Benson and Kimtai Andrew Ben.
Μαραθώνιος 2016: Νικητής ο Κενυάτης Λούκα Ρότιτς Λουμπουάν (pics&vid) https://t.co/HEbQSTbZkp pic.twitter.com/0JVO7oOYhl
— CNN Greece (@CNNgreece) November 13, 2016
Marathon 2016: The winner is Luka Rotich Lobuwan from Kenya.
The first Greek winner was Christoforos Merousis, who finished tenth, clocking in at 2:24:56.
Αυτός είναι ο πρώτος Έλληνας του Μαραθωνίου Αθήνας 2016 https://t.co/I64fhUqMjG pic.twitter.com/RxOnHQgiDp
— CNN Greece (@CNNgreece) November 13, 2016
This is the first Greek to finish the 2016 Athens Marathon.
In the women's division, Kenyan runner Nancy Arusei won first place with a time of 2:38:13, while the first Greek woman to finish was Rania Rebouli at 2:49:24.
As in years past, there was high participation in the small 5-kilometer and 10-kilometer races, which were held early in the morning in the central streets of Athens, while the finish line was at the “all-marble” Panathenaic Stadium. Simultaneously, special races were taking place for young competitors and Special Olympics athletes.
The “other Marathon” was taking place in Greek social media, as many people rushed to comment about the event and the participants, using the hashtag #AthensMarathon.
There were some negative comments about the fact that such events are getting very popular and trendy lately, with a supposed rise in participants who are underqualified to perform such physical feats.
Αύριο τρέχουμε όλοι για την Αθήνα, για τις σέλφιζ, για την προβολή, για την δημοσιότητα, για τα λάικς.. #AthensMarathon
— Andreas, Όλα έξω (@ola_ekso) November 12, 2016
Tomorrow, we are all running for Athens, for the selfiez, for extra attention and coverage, for publicity, for the [Facebook] “likes”…
-Γιατί έβαλες φόρμες κ αθλητικά παπούτσια;
-Πάω να τρέξω Μαραθώνιο.
-Πόσο πιστεύεις να τρέξεις;
-Καμιά 20αρια φωτογραφίες.#AthensMarathon
— Vasilis RToum (@toumvas) 13 Νοεμβρίου 2016
-Why did you put on your uniform and sports shoes?
-I am going to the Marathon.
-How much distance do you expect to handle?
-Just 20-something photos.
As is traditional, the race's official sponsor this year was WIND Hellas Mobile Communications, which invited members of the public to submit applications to join its sports team.
Ένα τεράστιο ΜΠΡΑΒΟ σε όλους τους δρομείς!#WINDrunningteam#WIND4G#pantanikitis#AMA2016#AthensAuthenticMarathon#AthensMarathon2016pic.twitter.com/kGNYkSmfGE
— WIND GR (@windhellas) November 13, 2016
A huge BRAVO to all the runners!
Apart from ordinary civilians, many Greek lawmakers also joined the race, perhaps hoping to score political points by posing in publicity photos. For local Internet users the effort was all too transparent:
Προφανώς τα πρώτα νούμερα μετά το 20000 δόθηκαν με αυστηρά νοητικά κριτήρια. #AthensMarathonpic.twitter.com/1tjj9xmO69
— Spidey (@Silver_Spidey) November 13, 2016
Obviously, registration numbers after 20,000 were given based on strictly IQ criteria. [photo shows 3 popular Greek MPs from different political parties]
Ο Αγών μου pic.twitter.com/8tdWN09bjo
— Μανόλης della Creta (@baxebanis) November 13, 2016
My Struggle [An allusion to Adolf Hitler's “Mein Kampf” — photo shows Greek nationalist right-wing politician Adonis Georgiadis]
Running the authentic Marathon route is a milestone for many people all over the world.
6 years ago today I crossed something off my #bucketlist. Pretty proud about that. #AthensMarathon #FootstepsOfHistory #Original #History
— Amie Bjorklund (@Official_AmieB) October 31, 2016
Can't wait to be in Athens for #AthensMarathon 🇬🇷. In three weeks or so, we'll enter this… https://t.co/1agmBcEFF0
— iWilRun (@iWil_Run) October 22, 2016
See you again next year in Athens!