2: RUN ATHENS

written by HEATHER KW BROWN
canstockphoto23585119My ponytail sways to the cadence of my running shoes. My heart races almost faster than my mind. I can tell I am close and as I muster the mettle to pick up my pace …

There, suspended in time, is where my daydream stops. One day, I want to cross the finish line of the original marathon course in Athens, Greece, and finally cross this feature off of my assignment wish list. The idea of running a destination race and writing about my adventures has always been appealing to me. For the non-runners out there … maybe not so much.

And then along comes our 15th anniversary and what do you know? We’ve found a way to finagle those features we’ve always wanted to write onto these magazine pages, after all. Following in Pheidippides’ footsteps (minus his immediate collapse) gained even more ground when I tracked down Paul Samaras, an Athens Marathon specialist for 21 years.

“The race starts in the center of the town of Marathon and the course takes a lap past the tomb of the 192 Athenian soldiers who were killed in 490 B.C.,” he said.

It is said to be the first battle for democracy fought at the Greek village of Marathon and legend has it that, when the battle was won, the Athenian messenger Pheidippides ran 24.85 miles to Athens,carrying news of the victory. The modern marathon is said to commemorate this feat — the additional 2.2 was added at the 1908 Olympic Games in London so that the race would finish in front of the royal family’s viewing box.

The Athens Authentic Marathon (formerly the Athens Classic Marathon) was also the official course for the 2004 Olympics. As runners make their way through small Greek towns en route to the finish inside The Panathenaic Stadium built in 1896 for the first modern Olympics, they pass several statues including that of Pheidippides. The stadium is a stone’s throw away from the famed Acropolis. The 2015 race held on Nov. 8 offers a marathon distance, a 10K and a 5K.

To register for the race and to organize your own trip, the official race website is athensauthenticmarathon.gr. If you’d rather focus on your training while a knowledgeable specialist handles the logistics, visit athensmarathon.com
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