Marathon Happenings – The 2500th Celebration in Greece

by Mary Papoulias-Platis

Sitting in the stands waiting for the runners to complete their race, I could hear international cheers from all angles of the first modern Olympic stadium ringing in my head.  Spanish, Greek, Italian, German, and many more languages were spoken  in unison as their runners ran by the slick fashioned finish line while the digital running clock displayed their final record time. Flags waving, children screaming, videos taping, crying babies, laughing partners and families hugging, many of these these emotions clearly displayed on this special day as one nation celebrates this commemorative event.  This was the 2500th anniversary of the legendary run from Marathon to Athens by Phidippides, announcing the defeat of the Persians by Greeks at the plains of Marathon.

The runners prior to the race were given a tour of their path beforehand to prepare themselves mentally for the day. Thereafter a trip to the fields of Marathon, where they envisioned the first battlegrounds between the Greeks and Persians.   Here, laid to rest, 192 Greek fighters of this epic battle, buried in a mound covered today with sweet wild grass.  Pictures above tell the story.  Alongside the stadium a spiral statue was erected for the 2010 events, for all to admire.  Mike and his friends are standing next to the statue in the above pictures. Following the morning activities they were taken to the Marathon Expo to purchases running shoes, clothes, hats, souvenirs, and casually interact with their fellow runners.

A total of 12,500 woke up to run this incredible event. They were all bussed to the Marathon start site as they all prepared for their journey. Included in this run were 10k, 5k, and walkers all starting in various locations around town. The organizers had never experienced such a large group attending this race, so they started the runners in blocks according to their prior experience and expected completion times.

Local fans greeted, cheered and encouraged them along the entire route.  They stood for hours hoping to get a glimpse of these dedicated marathoners. Many holding banners, throwing flowers at their feet, offering olive branches and children holdng out hands to be touched by the runners.  This sincere love by this country was witnessed and appreciated by all of these long-winded athletes. A memory they will hold onto forever!

This classical stadium was filled with anxious relatives and friends, hoping to witness their loved ones complete this race and have the honor of finishing this historic event.  The roar of the crowd was overwhelming.  We witnessed runners dropping down to kiss their homeland’s soil, while others were waving their country’s flag.  Such emotion was felt from the spectators as well as  from the runners as they crossed the finish line.

A warm international sense of togetherness one will never erase from their memory.

© 2010 – 2014, Mary Papoulias-Platis. All rights reserved.

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1 James Rigopoulos

The “original” lived up to its 2500 year reputation! The countryside breathtaking, the townspeople all along the route and the Athenians at the finish were enthusiastically supportive, the race was very organized, and it all went off with a huge bang for 15,861 Marathoners , plus 10K and 5K participants, including Greece’s Prime Minister Georgios “Geoffrey” Papandreou, for a total of over 22,000, according to Monday’s Athens newspaper “Ta Nea”! Devoted exclusively to the 2010 ATHENS Marathon, the outer covering of the newspaper was a pictorial and participant first hand account; while the center section provided 12 pages of Marathon finisher’s names and their times from first to last, 4 pages of 10K participants, and 3 pages of 5K participants. In greeting runners at the finish inside the all marble Olympic Stadium, I was invited to run in the Madrid and Hamburg Marathons, and in turn I invited my new european friends to come to San Diego to run in our very own Rock & Roll Marathon. I have always found participating in international athletic events, and other unifying int’l events generally, to be extremely rewarding, heartwarming, and always reminiscent of all that is good, peaceful, and shared amongst people. This event was the best yet! The athletic accomplishment, connection to a most important historic event, and the opportunity to raise money for good causes will always make the 2010 ATHENS Marathon a memorable and worthwhile event in my life. -James Rigopoulos, 2010 MARATHON runner, finisher

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