The citizens of Athens are entitled to feel exhausted after a summer of Olympic
Games, followed by Paralympics. But the most exhausting event of all is still
to come, the Athens Classic Marathon on Sunday.
22nd running of the Marathon to Athens
Paula Radcliffe may not wish to be reminded of why she is running the New York
Marathon the same day. But by the time she lines up in the Big Apple, the
latest results from the course where she blew out so spectacularly less than
three months ago will already be in. The 22nd running of the Marathon to Athens
‘classic’ begins at 08.30 local time (06.30gmt), around eight hours
before the New York event gets under way.
4000 runners in the full marathon
Despite having the original marathon course, first run in 1896, the Athens
Classic was a relatively late starter in the big-city marathon stakes. But the
added impetus of another Olympic Games on the course, and the backing of Alpha
Bank, the principal Olympic sponsor has boosted the race to new levels. There
will be around 4000 runners in the full marathon – half of them from
abroad – with another 2000 competing in the 10k race. And it is hoped
that there will be a surprise guest to fire the starting gun, Olympic
‘great’, Lasse Viren.
Viren - the Finn
The Finn, who won double Olympic gold in Munich ’72 and Montreal
’76 – and then finished fifth in the marathon in the latter Games
– is a guest of the municipality of Holargos, an Athenian suburb situated
at 35 kilometres on the marathon course. Viren is due to inaugurate a statue,
sculpted by his celebrated compatriot and coach, Eino, which the artist has
donated to the Olympic city. Viren’s parliamentary duties demand that he
return to Helsinki Sunday morning, but race organisers are hoping he can adjust
his timetable to attend the start.
Kenyans in the men’s race
Kenyans will again be to the fore in the men’s race, with favourites,
Frederick Cherono, who won Torino this year in 2hr 08min 38sec, Patrick Chumba
(2.09.45), and Daniel Kirwa (2.09.58).
Pat Butcher further info:
+44 7900 243460