Last Updated on January 26, 2023 by Celeste.
In 2014, I participated for the first time in the Athens Marathon, also called “the Authentic”. Together with my coach and a training buddy, I ran the 10K race through the beautiful heart of Athens, my adopted home city for 20 plus years. It was an unforgettable experience. I will never forget the feeling when we arrived at the finish line in the historic Panathenaic Stadium. And I still get goosebumps thinking of receiving my medal there while looking at the Acropolis nearby.
Have you ever visited the town of Marathon, the birthplace of the famous race? In Day Trip from Athens to Marathon you can read all about it!
This year, my daughter is old enough to participate in the Kids Race of the Athens Marathon (for children born in 2008, 2009 and 2010). Although we have participated together in other races, this is the first time that I can let her run in the footsteps of the ancient Pheidippides (530–490 BC) and the famous Greek athlete Spyros Louis about whom she has learned already so much in school. Will you join us?
The Authentic Athens Marathon
The Athens Marathon is a unique yearly event attended by thousands of people from all over the world. During the Athens Marathon, runners get to race along the historic route from Marathon to Athens. No other event in Athens is so closely related to Greece’s ancient history. The Athens Marathon, or Authentic Marathon, is the biggest most significant international sports event in Greece.
For a history buff like myself, being in Athens and participating in the Athens Marathon events, as a runner or as a spectator is an absolute must. Think of the learning opportunities about the birthplace of the Marathon, the Greek heroes and the modern Olympic Games. Can you imagine the stories your kids will tell their friends after participating in the authentic marathon at the place where it all started some thousands of years ago?!
Athens Marathon 2019 Festivities
If your family is not participating in the race, you should still consider visiting Athens to enjoy the celebrations. There are a lot of interesting things to see and do before and during the races. The start of the Marathon is in the town of Marathon and then heads into Athens. The finish line is at the historic Panathinaic Stadium. The 10K race takes place inside Athens city around the central Syntagma square.
Support the runners along the streets of Athens during the races and admire the historic centre and monuments of the city simultaneously. The centre of Athens will be closed off for cars and the streets are easy to navigate by foot. There are always lots of people on the streets and I remember street musicians and street artists. Wander towards Zapeion and the National Gardens, the starting point of the 5K and 10K race. The hustle and bustle and the energy of the runners is something that I will always remember. The Athens 2019 Marathon is a real city event and lots of Athenians will bring their children downtown.
Program Saturday 9 November 2019
• 12.30–13.15: Opening Ceremony – Marathon Flame Lighting Ceremony at the Marathon Tomb and Torch Relay from the Marathon Tomb to the Marathon Start Venue
• 17.00: Start of the 10 km Road Race in Athens city
Program Sunday 10 November 2019
• 09.00: Historic Start of Marathon Race at Marathon Town
• 08:15: Start of the 5 km Road Race in Athens city
• 11.09: Estimated finish time of the 1st male marathon runner in Athens’ Panathinaikon Stadium
10.20-10.40: Kids’ Fun Run 1200 m
Athens Marathon Family Activities
Consider visiting the Marathon Museum in Marathon town. It takes about one hour from Athens by car. Marathon is located on the north-east coast of Attica, 40 km away from Athens, and twenty minutes away from Athens International Airport. Its permanent exhibition of the “Olympic Marathon” presents the history of the Olympic Marathons from 1896 to 2000 and over 4000 exhibits record the history of Marathon race from 1896 until today. A unique historical collection that could not be found elsewhere then in the birthplace of Marathon road race! Kids can participate in several educational programs such as the Participation in an experiential activity group. I discover the museum the title: “Look out and Find”. The Kids are separated in groups with activity papers and exploit the place by answering questions on the leaflets. For information and opening times can be found here: http://marathonrunmuseum.com/en On your way to Marathon and the Tomb, you will drive the route of the Athens Authentic Marathon!
Marathon Tomb Archaeological Area
The Tumulus is a hill of nine meters height of soil that covered the 192 Athenians who defeated the Persians in the famous Battle of Marathon, in 490 BC. The struggle was fundamental because it could retain the role of Greek culture and also revive the concept of Athenian democracy. What you will see is a round small hill with olive trees and the model of the area with explanatory signs that reconstruct the story. A symbolic place that is worth a visit if you are interested in history. It is easy to visit and to make a short walk around the tomb.
Wander the streets of Athens
Enjoy music and people in the sunny street of Athens during the Marathon weekend. Note that during the races, there are no vehicles allowed in the city centre of Athens and anywhere around the Panathenaic Stadium until the afternoon. Therefore, I recommend the use of the metro. The Athens metro is stroller accessible and most metro stations have elevators. Don’t miss the metro stations of Acropolis, Monasteraki and Syntagma with their display of archaeological findings.
Visit the Panathenaic Stadium
To truly understand the atmosphere of the Marathon race, you should visit the historic Panathenaic Stadium. Runners have to run the last 170 m of the race inside the stadium before they finalize their achievement. On the day of the Marathon race, the Panathenaic Stadium opens its doors to the public free of charge. The stadium closes late in the evening when the last runner has crossed the finish line. The Panathenaic Stadium is located just 1000 m from the “Syntagma”, “Acropolis” and “Evangelismos” metro stations. You can get there by metro or walk.
If you want to experience the historic Panathenaic Stadium in a unique way with your family, have a look at the Olympic Games Workout – Family Olympics Activity
This tour creates your very own family Olympics in the famous Olympic Stadium in Athens. During this family activity, you and your kids will feel like an Olympic athlete. You will learn how ancient and modern Olympians trained, take part in a fun gym session, and finish with a family race at the magnificent Panathenaic Stadium.
Program of the Olympic Games Work out for families
You will meet at the Zappeion, a beautiful neoclassical building near the National Garden Botanical gardens in central Athens. Here, your sports trainer/guide will describe how important the Olympics were to Ancient Greek society, and even how wars were cancelled so the games could take place! You will have the opportunity to learn how the athletes used to live and train, which were the most popular ancient Olympic sports, and how the Modern Olympics took its inspiration and was born again in Athens.
Moving on from the Zappeion, you can then visit an historic gymnasium nearby. You will have the chance to learn the techniques involved in correctly holding and throwing the discus and javelin. You can also try the high jump as well the shot put. Which one of your family will be able to throw the furthest?
Finally, it is time to move on to the Panathenaic Stadium. The Panathenaic Stadium held some of the events of the first modern Olympic games over 100 years ago. Now though, it can hold the final event of your very own Family Olympics as you prepare to race around its track. With such incredible surroundings, it doesn’t matter who wins… as long as you experience together!
Other activities for sport-loving families
Can’t get enough of working out together? Consider a Family e-Bike Tour around Athens, a Family Half Day sightseeing tour in Athens, or even an Escape Room Game for Kids. All these activities are outdoors and you can be together with your kids in the historic streets of Athens.
And if you are participating in the Athens Marathon, have a great race, maybe see you there!