Greece’s financial crisis has led to several cuts in various sectors. Now, the country’s financial turmoil has delivered another heavy blow, this time affecting the famous November Marathon run, an ancient Greek tradition that takes place in Athens every year.
On Tuesday, August 4, the Athens Marathon organizers announced that the event would not be able to host elite runners, or pay the prize money that lures them, in this year’s edition because of the economic crisis.
However, people in Greece do not appear worried about the absence of world-class runners from the annual marathon, since the country’s financial problems are their main concern at the moment. Therefore, the Hellenic Athletics Federation decided to turn the 42-kilometer run, scheduled to take place on November, into a morale booster for the people.
“Runners from around the world to run the Athens Marathon in solidarity with the Greek people at this testing time,” noted the federation on Tuesday.
The marathon organizers predict that a record 16,000 runners will participate in this year’s event which starts in the town of Marathon, where it passes the tomb of the Athenian soldiers, and traces a path near the coast through Nea Makri, before finishing at the Panathinaiko Stadium, a site for athletics competitions in ancient times and the finishing point for both the 1896 and 2004 Olympic marathons.
The marathon course is based on the myth from which the race gained its name: Pheidippides, a messenger in Ancient Greece, ran from the Battle of Marathon to Athens to announce the Greeks’ victory over the Persians.