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.
With TV coverage guaranteed, not only is the Athens Classic Marathon secured, but it could also move up to another level. The reason for this is that the AIMS Best Marathon Runner of the Year ceremony, which will also be shown live on Greek Public Television, will now take place in Athens each year. The candidates for the award will be announced by AIMS shortly. Performances from October 2012 until September 2013 are to be considered for the nomination. While the AIMS Executive Board nominates the candidates, all AIMS member races (more than 350 at present) will then have a vote to determine the winner.
AIMS will discontinue their other annual award, the AIMS Runner of the Year. With the new event taking on a wider scope and Athens providing the ideal venue, the award should be on course to achieve global recognition. Both male and female winners will receive a 15,000 US Dollar prize while second and third placed athletes will be rewarded with 5,000 US Dollars each.
Two days after around 800 guests are expected to attend the Gala, the 31st edition of the Athens Classic Marathon will take place, attracting a record field. Taking into account other running events, 30,000 athletes have already entered the race, among them more than 11,000 marathon runners. While registration for the shorter races is no longer possible, entries for the marathon are still accepted.
Information and online entry is available at: AthensClassicMarathon.gr.
The unique finish inside the Panathinaikon Stadium in Athens. Photo: Athens Classic Marathon