Some people travel to Greece for culture, ancient sites, stunning beaches or to taste new flavours. But there is one more reason to travel to Greece for fitness enthusiasts, running!
Running is of course the oldest sport, and the very first Olympics that took place in 776 BC had but this one single event, called the stade. Gradually more running events were introduced, like the “diaulos”, the “dolichos” or the “hoplitodromos”.
This is a brief history of the Olympic Game events.
Thousands of years later, people travel from all around the world for an opportunity to run in historically important terrains around stunning scenery.
Here are some running and fitness events around Greece that are worth travelling to Greece for.
Athens Classic Marathon
Runners will surely be aware of the ultimate marathon race in the world, the classic Athens Marathon. This sport owes its name to the town of Marathon, from where Pheilippides, a Greek messenger, is said to have started running until reaching Athens, in order to announce the victorious result of the Battle of Marathon that took place in 490 BC. According to the story, Pheilippides ran more than 40 km and died from exhaustion soon after. The Athens Classic Marathon always takes places in early November, with thousands of participants from around the world. The year 2020 will mark the 38th anniversary.
The Finish Line
Nafplion Classic Run
Nafplio Castle Run is a relatively new event that has been gaining momentum and incredible support from the participants and is in its 6th year running. It is a unique and challenging fitness event and the only one in the world where participants have to ascend a castle!
Do not be fooled by the fact that this is only a 10 km run, the race will challenge even the fittest athletes and will surely be a unique way of experiencing Palamidi castle and the views it gives of the city below. It is also a great excuse for an excursion in the beautiful Peloponnese peninsula starting with the city of Nafplion.
View From Palamidi Castle
The Navarino Challenge has three running routes. The 21.1 km Half Marathon, the 10 km Trail Running Route and the 5.4 km route.
This award-winning in sports and tourism challenge is on its 9th consecutive year in the area of Messinia, in the Peloponnese peninsula and takes place in mid-October. Costa Navarino is the main organizer of the event and is a luxury resort and travel destination with magnificent views over the Ionian Sea. The setting is incredible, and combines luxury accommodation, leisure, entertainment options and a plethora of sports. Costa Navarino also boasts a world-class golf experience with two 18-hole signature courses on offer.
The Half Marathon takes runners from the facilities of Costa Navarino through to the coastline of Pylos and Voidokoilia Beach, part of the Natura 2000 zone of special ecological protection, a route that combines asphalt, soil and sand. A unique experience for sure!
The Olympia Marathon is an event in celebration of classical sport that follows the routes of antiquity in the area that was first host to the Olympic Games and their history.
The Marathon event starts from the city of Amaliada and passes through Pyrgos before reaching the ancient stadium of Ancient Olympia. Other events available are the half-marathon, the Ancient Elis 12 km Race, and the 2 km Race for All, that gives the opportunity to all residents of the area and visitors to partake in this sporting event and celebrate the Olympic Spirit.
Hydra’s Trail Event
In 2012, Hydra island in the Saronic Gulf entered the spotlight as the new destination for endurance and train running in Greece.
And people from all around the world came to experience the wild natural beauty of this charming island. There are 5 race options available, the longest of which spans 38 km through mountainous terrain, that is referred to as Hydra’s Trail Marathon. There is also an18 km Rock Race that skips the more demanding elements of the Marathon Race, but takes athletes through ancient foot bridges and abandoned windmills before highlighting the coastal beauty of the island.
Hydra’s Trail Event takes place annually in the beginning of April but had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 in 2020.
Meteora Trail Run
Meteora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northern Greece, a place of immense religious significance and a cultural treasure.
But for just one day in October it is also the setting of this major running event. The longest race at 23 km (14.2mi) is ideal for those looking for an uphill challenge, while the shorter 6 km race takes you around the village.
Either way that unique landscape makes Meteora Trail Run a unique running event that you won’t be able to find elsewhere.
International Thessaloniki Night Half-Marathon
Thessaloniki is a cosmopolitan city in Northern Greece that stands right on the Thermaic Gulf and is practically an open air museum, with more than a dozen monuments included in the UNESCO World Heritage List and countless museums to explore.
A different kind of city exploration would be the International Thessaloniki Night Half Marathon, which usually starts at 19:00 PM at the centre of the city and circles around the main waterfront area before reaching the White Tower.
Thessaloniki – White Tower Waterfront
- Did you know about these running events in Greece? Which one would you pick first?