Where it all Started – Athens Marathon

Where it all Started – Athens Marathon

The Athens Marathon, Greece. On the original Olympic course from Marathon to Athens.

History of the Race

Legend has it that Phideppidis, a foot soldier ran all the way from the Battle of Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek Victory over Persians. He announced the victory, collapsed and died. (This version was from Robert Browning’s poem Pheidippides, which was accepted as historic legend. But according to the Greek historian Herodotus a soldier ran from Athens to Sparta to ask for help and ran back, a total distance of 150 miles, which is run today as the Spartathlon Ultramarathon)

In 1896, 20 years after Browning wrote his poem, the idea of the first modern Olympic games was floated. And the marathon distance was introduced to start from the city of Marathon and run down to the city of Athens. The 2004 Athens Olympic games revived the ancient route, ending in the olympic stadium.


  • Usually held in November. (November 11 in 2012)

The Course

  • The marathon course starts in the small village of Marathon and traces the route used for the 1st modern Olympics and the 2004 Olympics. It passes the Tomb of Marathon where the Athenians soldiers who lost there lives in this historic battle are buried. The course is very hilly from 9 miles until 20 miles. The last 10K is mostly a gradual downhill. It finishes inside the Panathinaikon Stadium built fot the first modern Olympics in 1896. (source: Marathon Tours)
Course Map and Elevation Chart (Source: Athens Marathon)
Why do it?
  • Steeped in history, the birthplace of the modern Marathon distance, retracing the route of the first Olympic marathon.
  • Destination Athens with its ancient Greek archeological hubs of Parthenon, Acropolis, and more – walk around the city and explore on post-marathon legs.
  • Destination Greek islands of Santorini, Mykonos, and more – a perfect post-marathon relaxation.
  • There is also a 5k and a 10k option for the spouse/partner who wants in the festivities/vacation, but not the whole 26.2 miles (Actually 27.16 miles!!)

  • Marathon Entry – $110
  • Airfare (Atlanta, USA to Athens) ~ $1000 (in the month of November)
  • 4 nights stay in Athens in a 4* hotel ~ $500-800
  • Add-on 4 nights Greek Island cruise/stay ~ $1000

Packaged Tours  (I am not affiliated with either of the tours, and I have not been on any of their tours either)

Would you do the Athens Marathon as a history buff or as a vacationer to the Greek islands?

Modern day Greek soldiers at the Athens Marathon (source: Athens Marathon)

This is the first in a new series I’m writing ‘Dream Races and Destinations’. Most of these races are my bucket list races and I would love to hear about your dream races.
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