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Features International Marathon Alexander the Great

01 July 2014, 7am

Nearly 15,000 runners flooded the streets of Thessaloniki in the ninth edition of the race, which has become the biggest sporting event in Northern Greece. They ranged in age from 9–85 years, participating in the Marathon, the 10km & 5km road races, and a 1000m race for schoolchildren. Runners from 54 countries lived a unique experience, won the applause of many fans and sent a message of fitness and health through an event that resonates with social, cultural, environmental, touristic and historical significance. Since 2006 the race has linked the ancient Capital of Macedonia, Pella, with the modern one, Thessaloniki, and brings the name of Alexander the Great before a worldwide audience.

Tracing a path through history

by Giorgios Karagiannis

International Marathon Alexander the Great
Sun 6 April 2014

The race starts in Pella, the birthplace of the great commander, and descends to the port of Thessaloniki, the modern Hellenic metropolis of Macedonia and the second city of Greece. The marathon celebrates one of history’s most recognisable personalities, Alexander the Great: the race is not just a major international sporting event, it is a path through history, a path rooted in ancient Greek culture.

The first Alexander the Great Marathon was held in 2006 as a result of the vision of many people representing Greek sporting and cultural institutions. These included the Greek National Athletic Federation SEGAS, the Hellenic National Commission for UNESCO, the Greek National Tourism Organisation, the Thessaloniki International Fair and Thessaloniki 2014 European Youth Capital. With the cooperation of 70 bodies and institutional supporters the event has realised the ambitions of its founders by becoming not just the biggest sports event in Northern Greece but also by embodying values that allow it to offer the perfect representation of Thessaloniki, Macedonia and Greece to the world.

23 supporting institutions and charitable organisations participated with their own running teams, and the organisers contributed five euros for each of their runners. The race disbursed a further 35,000 euros directly to charitable causes.

It is a race which presents few difficulties to the runner, and as such is ideal for setting a personal best. Its main characteristics are the slight undulations and the long straight road that make it so favourable for running fast times. The race starts in front of the statue of Alexander the Great in Pella and finishes at the well-known White Tower in Thessaloniki.

For those who are not yet prepared to run a marathon there are 10km and 5km races, which include health and power walkers. The finishing line of all races is in front of the White Tower, one of the iconic spots in Thessaloniki.
The program also includes a 1000m Road Race for schoolchildren, which is dedicated to the environment. In this year’s race 1,500 children participated, wearing T-shirts with the message “The race for the environment is a marathon”. One day before, on the Saturday, young runners planted an urban six thousand square metre orchard near the National Kaftanzoglio Stadium, in collaboration with the Municipality of Thessaloniki.

The official lighting ceremony of Alexander’s Marathon Flame takes place the day before the race at the archaeological site of Pella. Afterwards, the torch is relayed along the marathon route, passing through the marathon startline, the statue of Alexander the Great, Chalcedona, the Museum of the Balkan Wars (Topsin Bridge), Agios Athanasios and Nea Mesembria, the Municipal Stadium of Ampelokipi (where a runner’s statue marks the start of the 10km), Eptalofou Square (the start of the 5km) and finishes at the White Tower. The flame keeps burning until the last runner finishes.

Running the Alexander the Great Marathon is the best way to explore one of the most interesting and exciting of historical cities. Thessaloniki’s history spans some 2,300 years. An important metropolis by the Roman period, Thessaloniki was the second largest and wealthiest city of the Byzantine Empire and it is the second largest city of modern Greece.

Thessaloniki is home to numerous notable Byzantine monuments, as well as several Roman, Ottoman and Sephardic Jewish structures. In addition to its historical roots, Thessaloniki is also a very popular tourist destination. In 2010, Lonely Planet ranked Thessaloniki as the world’s fifth-best party city worldwide.

The National Geographic Magazine for the year 2013 included Thessaloniki in its world’s top tourist destinations. It is a very lively city with numerous cafes, bars, restaurants and other attractions, not to mention the great taste of Greek cuisine and hospitality.

Along with the Marathon, visitors have the opportunity through the official travel agency to visit popular nearby touristic destinations, such as Chalkidiki with its famous and unique beaches.

Result

marathon
Men
1 Victor Kiprono KIMELI KEN 2:21:14
2 Teklu Getu METAFERIA ETH 2:26:34
3 Kyriakos SYMIRIOTIS GRE 2:33:23
4 Elisha Kiprotich SAVVE KEN 2:34:24
5 Wilfred Chelimo CHESEREK KEN 2:38:07
Women
1 Magda GAZEA GRE 2:47:04
2 Maria Magdalena LUCA ROU 2:53:46
3 Alina NITULEASA ROU 2:59:53
4 Vasiliki KARAGEORGAKI GRE 3:05:13
5 Athanasia FILIOU GRE 3:15:14
10km
Men
1 Dimosthenis MAGGINAS GRE 31:01
2 Georgios KARAVIDAS GRE 32:01
3 Efstathios MAVRIDOPOULOS GRE 33:46
1 Dimosthenis MAGGINAS GRE 31:01
2 Georgios KARAVIDAS GRE 32:01
Women
1 Paraskevi KATSAKIORI GRE 38:08
2 Theodosia MARKOU GRE 38:06
3 Emy SAPIOY GRE 39:38
1 Paraskevi KATSAKIORI GRE 38:08
2 Theodosia MARKOU GRE 38:36

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Cover: Runners in the Moscow Half Marathon held on 2 August. Over 9500 runners finished along with nearly 2500 others in the supporting 5km event. Winners were Rinas Akhmadeev (1:04:24) and Elena Korobkina (1:10:29). Korobkina went on to win the 10km event held in association with the Absolute Moscow Marathon on 20 September in a time of 31:49. Around 9500 finished the Marathon along with another 12,000 in the 10km.

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