Kenyan runner Felix Kipchirchir Kandie won the 32nd Athens Classic Marathon the “Authentic” on Sunday in a new record time for the original course amidst the warm applause of thousands of Greeks and foreign visitors in a fully packed Panathinaic stadium in the centre of Athens.
The 27-year-old athlete crossed first the finish line at the site of the first modern 1896 Olympic Games covering in 2:10:36 the 42.195 kilometers historic route from Marathon city to Athens first run by legendary Greek soldier Pheidippides in 490 B.C.
On a sunny day which made even more difficult the race for runners, Kandie broke the race record held by Italian Stephano Baldini since the 2004 Athens Olympic Games (2:10:55). His compatriots Raymond Kimutai Bett (2:12:34), winner of previous Athens Marathon races in recent years, and Josphat Kiptanui Too Chobei (2:15:38) ranked second and third respectively.
“I feel great that all these spectators here cheered for me. I look forward to keep running more Marathons and winning medals around the world,” Kandie told reporters shortly before being awarded with an olive branch from the historic battlefield of Marathon.
“I am very grateful to finish this race. This is my first time in Athens and I am very happy to finish,” Chobei said.
Kenyan Naomi Jepkogei Maiyo (2:41:05) won the marathon in the women’s division, followed by her compatriot Nancy Joan Rotich (2:41:28) in the second place and Kidist Fiseha Tedla of Ethiopia (2:42:40) in the third place.
“I enjoyed them. It was good,” Maiyo told the press before the awards ceremony for the cheering spectators.
Christoforos Meroussis was the first Greek athlete who crossed the finish line in 2:25:15, winning the parallel Panhellenic Championship. He dedicated his victory to his 9 days old son.
“The Authentic Marathon is a difficult race, one of the toughest worldwide. I am happy I managed to cross the finish line for a second consecutive year healthy first of all,” he told media.
“For me the biggest challenge was to reach the winners’ podium for the eighth time. And I did it,” Dimitris Theodorakakos, the Greek athlete who ranked second in the Panhellenic Championship, added holding his daughter Angelina in his arms.
Sophia Riga was the first winner in the women’s division among Greek athletes. She called on all people regardless of age to join the international runners’ movement.
“The people are embracing sports in recent years. It is a way to forget the everyday stress. All people can make it and get closer to sports,” she told reporters at the Panathinaic stadium.
For the Greek organizers of the Hellenic Sports Federation (SEGAS), beyond rankings, all 35,000 participants in the 42 kilometers course, as well as the shorter distance 10 kilometers, 5 kilometers, kids’ and Special Olympics races, are winners.
The 50,000 spectators at the stadium greeted each one of the runners who crossed the finish line – elite athletes, as well as mothers with baby strollers and grandparents – as champions of life, cheering and waving flags and banners. After all the essence of the marathon race is about testing personal limits, keep trying, do not give up, promote the ideals of peace and sportsmanship regardless of performances, officials and participants stressed.
“The Marathon race is a trip to self-awareness. During the course you can only hold discussions with yourself. And this is the most intriguing aspect. This trip which highlights elements of your personality; discipline and courage,” Anna Magnissali, a 23 years old runner who participated in the 10 kilometres race for a second time told Xinhua.
Lia Anastassaki took part in the same race for first time to raise awareness for “Shedia”, a street magazine which supports the homeless in Athens. “Crossing the finish line inside the Panathinaic stadium is a magic experience all of us must have once in our lifetime,” she told Xinhua.
“I am proud I finished the race. I was encouraged by the crowd’s cheering and the team spirit. There was no competition. The important thing is taking part,” 35-year-old Lefteris Kilkis who ran along Anastassaki added.
Among the 13,000 people who followed the footsteps of Pheidippides, the soldier who announced the victory against the Persian forces before collapsing dead from exhaustion, this year were 345 Chinese runners.
Felix Kipchirchir Kandie (KEN) 2:10.37, Raymond Kimutai Bett (KEN) 2:12.34, Josphat Kiptanui Too Chobei (KEN) 2:15.38, Julius Kiplagat Korir (KEN) 2:15.51, Amare Eneayehu Abebe (ETH) 2:16.31
Naomi Jepkogei Maiyo (KEN) 2:41.06, Nancy Joan Rotich (KEN) 2:41.29, Linah Jerop Chirchir (KEN) 2:42.41, Kidist Fiseha Tedla (ETH) 2:43.46, Yumiko Kinoshita (JPN) 2:44.18
Courtesy of standardmedia.co.ke