Young and old, families, friends or lone challengers, serious athletes or fun runners, they all participate in their own style and at their own pace. And let’s not forget those who throng the route in ebullient support, who cheer on each and every competitor until they are hoarse. On November 8, a great surging and joyous mass of humanity takes on 5km, 10km or the full 42km, from Marathonas in the east to the finishing line at the 1896 Olympic Stadium. Extraordinary individual will-power meets a collective drive and heart-warming camaraderie in an event whose values have remained untarnished since the doughty Pheidippides set out on his legendary run 2,500 years ago, intent on informing the Athenians of a great victory, regardless of his own personal cost.
So, why not hotfoot it over to Athens yourself for a break that includes this wonderful celebration and presents you a capital that, like the marathon itself, can effortlessly shift its gears, in this case, between its staggering ancient heritage and its incredible modern and upbeat vibe. Experience firsthand the emotional roller-coaster as each runner strives to find the best of themselves and shares the emotional and physical highs and lows of their fellow racers. Feel an atmosphere charged with passion and commitment, where endurance is tested to the limit, no obstacle seems insurmountable and the rewards are not counted in money but in the hug of a loved one. Then, soak up the same atmosphere in a city alive with possibilities and the very same values that have kept up the marathon’s popularity across the world for so long.
Athens is a pacesetter in so many ways. It is a city which can adapt and, inspired by its past, revels in the opportunities of renewal and revitalization. You can see this all around you in a bold new energy on the streets and the creative flair of a new generation. Freedom lives in its stunning graffiti art. Compassion shines in the warm embrace and hospitality of its people. Determination and innovation thrive as brand new wine bars and concept restaurants are up and running all over town. There’s a sense of discovery when every backstreet can reveal a secret charm or special culinary treat. There’s also a renewed desire for physical challenge to refresh the soul. Any visitor can ‘go local’, take to the bicycle and become a part of the new Athenian two-wheel lifestyle. There are countless themed walks available as well, which means you take a little exercise while taking in the sights. And all this is, quite naturally, offered along with hotels and services of the very highest quality.
A city break in Athens offers you a whole range of options and experiences, from the exciting to the relaxing. All the euphoria, emotions, real values and the indomitable human spirit that run through the marathon event are also bound up in the package ready and waiting for the city’s visitors. And if you like, you can take it all at breakneck speed or otherwise take your time to savour the thrill. In fact, with Athens, ‘The Pacesetter’, you choose your own pace; your own way to enjoy a city combining the ancient and the modern, and all the energies and values that go with it.