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Record participation in 28th Athens Classic Marathon to mark 2,500th anniversary of Marathon Battle

10-21-2010 10:16 BJT

ATHENS, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- A record 12,500 marathon runners will participate in all road races of the annual Athens Classic Marathon to be held on October 31 in Greece, said organizers on Tuesday.

This year's 28th edition bears a special significance, since it will be the culmination of a series of events to mark the 2,500th anniversary of the Marathon Battle, noted Greek Sports Federation Head Vassilis Sevastis during a press conference for the race.

In 490 B.C. Greeks defeated the Persian invaders in a battle that resembled the encounter between David and Goliath. According to historians and legends, ancient Greek soldier Pheidippides ran from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens, a distance of 42 kilometers non stop, announced the major victory and died of exhaustion.

His name was connected to a feat which inspired modern marathons across the globe. Approximately 1,500 marathons are organized across the globe each year.

But the Athens Classic Marathon is the only one which follows the route attributed by legend to Pheidippides, from the Tomb of Marathon Soldiers to Panathinaikon Stadium, where the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896.

Due to the low prize money offered to elite athletes, compared to other marathons around the world, Greeks do not expect more than two dozen famous Marathon runners to attend the race.

But thousands of enthusiastic young children, whole families, veteran runners and people with special needs from Greece and other countries will run in parallel races in the historical centre of Athens on October 31.

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