Mike Manatos and Jimmy Pantelidis wearing the Stylianos Kyriakides replica jerseys. Photo: Courtesy of Mike Manatos
BOSTON, MA – On April 18, when over 20,000 runners hit the streets for the 126th Boston Marathon “Freedom for Cyprus” will pass before the eyes of 500,000 spectators in person and thousands more around the world watching on TV and online.
On that day, Dr. Miltiadis Mitsias will be running in the world’s largest, oldest and best-known marathon, wearing a “Freedom for Cyprus” shirt. He is a charity runner for the Alpha Omega Council and sponsored by the International Coordinating Committee — Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA) and its President Philip Christopher.
“Before every marathon I usually take four months to prepare. Five days per week, for 3.5 hours would be my typical schedule. I’ve participated in marathons that took place in New York, Berlin, and London,” he told TNH.
“Initially I was supposed to take part in the Boston marathon with my wife in 2020, however Covid kicked in, and the event was cancelled,” Mitsias mentioned.
Mitsias is inspired by one of the greatest figures in the history of the Boston Marathon, a fellow Greek-Cypriot and the race’s first charity runner, Stylianos Kyriakides.
In 1946, after barely surviving the Nazi occupation of Greece as part of the Greek resistance, and with thousands of his countrymen still dying from starvation during the Greek Civil War, Kyriakides felt compelled to run the Boston Marathon to draw America’s attention to Greece’s condition.
He sold his furniture to buy a ticket to Boston, and when he arrived he was so emaciated from the lack of food in war-ravaged Greece, doctors forbid him from running in the race because they were afraid he would die in the streets.
Nevertheless, he started the race. At the end of the race, he was neck and neck with legendary Boston Marathon winner John Kelley, when an old man shouted from the crowd: “For Greece, for your children!” Kyriakides pulled away and won the race in 2:29:27, a new record time. According to Life Magazine Kyriakides shouted: “For Greece!” as he crossed the finish line.
Nearly a million people greeted Kyriakides when he returned to Athens with 25,000 tons of food, medicine, clothing and other essentials, including $250,000 in cash, donated by generous Americans who read of his cause and victory.
When Mitsias crosses the one mile mark of the marathon in Hopkinton, he will pass by a sculpture of Kyriakides called The Spirit of the Marathon. It depicts Kyriakides being shown the way forward by the winner of the first modern Olympic marathon in 1896, fellow Greek Spyridon Louis. An identical statue was placed in the City of Marathon, Greece, sister city of Hopkinton, along the seashore near the ancient battle site, to mark the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
In 2018, Greek-Americans Jimmy Pantelidis, a pancreatic cancer survivor, and Mike Manatos ran in the Boston Marathon as Alpha Omega charity runners wearing replicas of Stylianos Kyriakides’ jersey. They crossed the finish line holding a Greek flag and, like Kyriakides but 72 years later, shouted: “For Greece!”
Support for Mitsias
Those who wish to support Dr. Mitsias’ run for Cyprus can make a contribution online through the link below, or send a check to the address below. Please note when making your contribution that you are doing so in support of charity runner Miltiadis Mitsias. Contribute online here: https://www.alphaomegacouncil.org/community/donors/
OR Send a check payable to “Alpha Omega Council” and mail it to: Alpha Omega Council C/O Chris Brathas, CPA, Treasurer P.O. Box 752 Foxborough, MA 02035-0752 More information is available by phone: 617-877-7129
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He wasn’t the first one to think about it but a humor columnist for POLITICO suggested - ironically, of course - that if Greeks want back the stolen Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum that they should just steal them back, old boy.
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