Best Marathon Runner of the Year award
The AIMS Best Marathon Runner of the Year award will be presented to a male and female athlete for the first time on 8th November in Athens. This was announced by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) who will stage a Gala in cooperation with the Hellenic Athletics Federation (SEGAS), the organiser of the Athens Classic Marathon, to mark the occasion. There could not be a more fitting venue to honour a male and a female winner than the birthplace of the classic race. The gala will be take place two days before the start of the Athens Classic Marathon, which will see its 31st edition on 10th November.
Nowhere in the history of marathon running has such a dramatic background as Athens, where the course follows the original route from Marathon to the Panathinaikon Stadium in the capital. This was where it all began in 490 BC with the story of the Athenian soldier-messenger Pheidippides, who is said to have run from Marathon to Athens, bearing news of victory against the invading Persians, but collapsed and died on arrival. To honour the heroic deed of the legendary ancient runner, in 1896 the first Olympic Games of modern times included the first ever official marathon race. The authentic route of 42.195 k – measured by AIMS/IAAF officials – was used again during the Olympics in 2004. It is the course of the Athens Classic Marathon that takes place under very high international race organisation standards on the second Sunday of November each year.
However, this year there was a twist in the tale some months before the start of the race. When Greek state television station ERT was closed down in a desperate attempt to save money for the struggling Greek economy, this appeared to deal a body blow to the race. The potential loss of TV coverage could have brought the story of the Athens Classic Marathon to a close. But the organisers of the very first marathon race achieved a miracle after the new TV station Greek Public Television started working at a much more basic level some time later.