16 November 2017, 11am
In recent years the economic problems besetting Greece have had their impact on the race but, like Pheidippides of ancient legend and present-day marathon runners, they kept going. Now, as Kostas Panagopoulos, president of SEGAS, the Hellenic Athletics Federation, explained, they see a bright future on the horizon: “We believe that the Authentic Marathon has the right to host many more runners. In order to do so, we ask for the support of the Greek government. We need the State to build a new start for the Athens Marathon.”
Future participants in the race from the town of Marathon to the 1896 Olympic Stadium should not fear that this proposal would reduce the historical significance of the race. The event has grown in popularity among spectators as well, with a record attendance of more than 100,000 along the route.
Kostas Panagopoulos says that an improved starting area in Marathon would create a new level of capacity: “We believe that in years to come, we will be able to host many more on the original course, probably more than 25,000. But we need to have the facilities to service them in the proper way.”
The SEGAS president sees the economic situation as improving, gradually, for Greece in general. Kostas Panagopoulos is confident that the race will continue in its present form, given the support of the event sponsors, but that government funds will make a crucial difference: “It’s a matter of priority. The government has, even now, the money to support our plan.”
If the Greek State can add its financial muscle to the Athens Marathon, many more runners, elite or simply those wishing to fulfil a dream of running in the footsteps of Pheidippides, will have the chance to reflect as Sunday’s runner-up, Milton Rotich did: “When I came here I heard about the race’s history and I was so excited. I felt it was something extraordinary for me to run here.”