01 July 2014, 7am
International Marathon Alexander the Great
Sun 6 April 2014
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.