When Greek-American George Zaras was thinking up ways to help support and promote his mother’s birthplace, Rhodes, he hit upon a novel idea – hosting an international marathon on the island. With the help of American Ironman and triathlon champion Wayne Kurtz, the two planned the initial route and the Roads to Rhodes Marathon was born.
On April 9, the center of Rhodes Town will be inundated with runners visiting the island to take part in the 4th International Marathon, now an official running event of the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS).
Drawing on the experience of past events, the organizers this year have added new routes, invited Greek Olympians to support the event and are aiming to attract participants from all over the world to run the full 42.195 km route which takes them past the sea and through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Old Town. Last year over 1,500 runners took part with participants from countries including Japan, America, Iran, the UAE, Canada and Brazil running alongside Greek athletes.
“Rhodes is the birthplace of great Olympians of antiquity: Leonidas of Rhodes, Diagoras and their descendants. It is our duty to support athletics,” explains the chairman of the organizing committee and the deputy head of tourism for the southern Aegean, Marietta Papavasileiou.
“The 4th International Marathon [of Rhodes] is evolving. Apart from the basic route and those of 5 and 10 kilometers, we will also host a half marathon (21.1 km). The routes are certified by the Greek Athletics Federation and AIMS,” explains Nikos Polias, the technical director and executive officer of the organization and a former champion of the Balkan Marathon. One of the most unique parts of the event is the children’s route of 1,000 meters.
Registrations for the marathon are currently open and as the marathon coincides with the start of the tourist season, the organizers are hoping that this year’s event will be the most successful yet.
For details on registration, accommodation, sightseeing and more, visit the Roads to Rhodes Marathon’s official site.
(Update: the registration deadline has been extended to Thursday April 6).