The 5th Athens International Half Marathon offers participants a unique opportunity to run around Athens and explore the city’s historical monuments without the commotion of weekday traffic. In its fifth year, the 21-kilometer race and parallel runs are a sporting success with 18,000 athletes already registered to take part on Sunday.
The increased interest this year, compared to last year’s 16,000 athletes, shows that the change of date from May to March has paid off.
“We decided to move the date forward so that athletes could take advantage of the affordable off-season hotel rates and also make it more comfortable for them to run in cooler weather conditions,” says Hellenic Athletics Federation (SEGAS) Press Spokesman Babis Zannias. “The new date also coincides with Spring Break for colleges abroad.”
The ultimate target for SEGAS is to turn the Athens Half Marathon into a “global, unique sport event with a strong cultural, entertaining and youthful character.” In line with this, the motto of this year’s event is “Set Your Pace and Live the Experience – Be an Athens Pace-Setter.”
No longer at the end of the marathon season, the event is more than just an afterthought for long-distance runners.
“Christoforos Merousis, Ourania Rebouli, Sofia Riga – all who made this year’s Olympic levels – are competing in the Athens Half Marathon on Saturday,” says Zannias. National winners will go straight to the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam from July 6-10, 2016.
The event isn’t just for champions, but for everyone. Amateur athletes are spoilt for choice with a number of parallel races such as the 5k road race, 3k family run open to all ages and the 1,000-meter race designed for people with disabilities and Special Olympics athletes.
More than just the race
Apart from running, there’s the 2nd Half Marathon EXPO to be staged within the framework of the running events. Inaugurated last year, the exhibition at the Zappeion Megaron runs from March 17-19, with the most up-to-date presentation of sports nutrition advice, health services, travel and technology, rehabilitation physio centers and then some.
Joining in the celebration are some 138 private and public art spaces, shops and restaurants, in collaboration with the Athens-Attica and Argosaronic Hotel Association, to offer athletes numerous possibilities for fun, shopping, culinary secrets, archeological and art walks and more. Visitors are urged to take advantage of the shopping, sightseeing, transportation and other offers for the 10-day period around the Athens Half Marathon.
Have you still not registered?
Online registration ended on March 5, however people can still register at Zappeion Megaron on Thursday (13:00 to 20:00), Friday (10:00 to 20:00) and Saturday (10:00 to 20:00). All registered runners can also collect their bib numbers, timing chips and race kit bags from the Registration Center at the same time.