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Athens CLassic Marathon
Athens, Thurs, Nov 4, 12.30gmt
The citizens of Athens are entitled to feel exhausted after a summer of
Olympic Games, followed by Paralympics. But the most exhausting event of
all is still to come, the Athens Classic Marathon on Sunday.
Paula Radcliffe may not wish to be reminded of why she is running the
New York Marathon the same day. But by the time she lines up in the Big
Apple, the latest results from the course where she blew out so
spectacularly less than three months ago will already be in.
The 22nd running of the Marathon to Athens ‘classic’ begins at 08.30
local time (06.30gmt), around eight hours before the New York event gets
Despite having the original marathon course, first run in 1896, the
Athens Classic was a relatively late starter in the big-city marathon
stakes. But the added impetus of another Olympic Games on the course, and
the backing of Alpha Bank, the principal Olympic sponsor has boosted the
race to new levels.
There will be around 4000 runners in the full marathon – half of them
from abroad – with another 2000 competing in the 10k race. And it is hoped
that there will be a surprise guest to fire the starting gun, Olympic
‘great’, Lasse Viren.
The Finn, who won double Olympic gold in Munich ’72 and Montreal ’76 –
and then finished fifth in the marathon in the latter Games – is a guest of
the municipality of Holargos, an Athenian suburb situated at 35 kilometres
on the marathon course. Viren is due to inaugurate a statue, sculpted by
his celebrated compatriot and coach, Eino, which the artist has donated to
the Olympic city.
Viren’s parliamentary duties demand that he return to Helsinki Sunday
morning, but race organisers are hoping he can adjust his timetable to
attend the start.
Kenyans will again be to the fore in the men’s race, with favourites,
Frederick Cherono, who won Torino this year in 2hr 08min 38sec, Patrick
Chumba (2.09.45), and Daniel Kirwa (2.09.58).