Locals snub Athens marathon

Over 3,000 runners, the overwhelming majority of them from abroad, have registered to take part in the annual Athens Classic Marathon, to be contested tomorrow. The race, which traces the legendary course taken in antiquity by a messenger who ran from Marathon to Athens to announce the victory of the Athenians over an invading Persian army, is scheduled to start at 8.30 a.m. Two separate races, over 5,000- and 10,000-meter distances, will begin half an hour later from the Panathenaic Stadium, where all three events will end. Rated as one of the more grueling courses on the international marathon agenda because of its extended uphill stretches, this latest event, the 24th edition, has drawn approximately as many runners as it did the previous year. Some 80 percent of the contestants who have registered for the marathon this year are from abroad, according to officials. Three Kenyan runners accomplished a clean sweep in the men’s category last year, with James Saina crossing the finish line first in 2 hours, 16 minutes, 5 seconds. Though Greek participation will be relatively subdued, it will include veteran marathon runner Georgia Abatzidou, a seven-time winner who crossed the finish line in third place last year. Greek ultra-marathon runner Yiannis Kouros, who has broken several world records over various long distances – at times run over many days – attributed the relatively subdued turnout by locals to «the modern Greek mentality which needs to be improved.» Organizers said that a share of revenues raised by the event will be donated to a local welfare group that offers support to underprivileged children and a new global environmental group. The Athens Urban Transport Association has announced changes to bus and trolley routes tomorrow between 7.15 a.m. and 2.30 p.m. Passengers should call 185 for further information.

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