ATHENS – The 5km race that preceded the 38th Athens Authentic Marathon race on Sunday drew several politicians, retired record-breaking athletes, and people of all ages.
Runners included Deputy Labor Minister responsible for Welfare and Social Solidarity programs Domna Michailidou, who ran with nonprofit MDA Hellas; Deputy Sports Minister Lefteris Avgenakis, who ran next to a national record holder for the 5km race, Spyros Andriopoulos; Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis; and Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias, all of whom spoke of the joy of participating in the events and the opportunity it gives Athenians of all walks of life to either participate or witness them.
Michailidou ran alongside wheelchair-bound Andreas Hotzas on the 5km race with MDA Hellas, which provides support for people with neuromuscular afflictions. The minister said she ran “to prove that limitations can be overcome and our society can – and must – become inclusive and provide equal rights to all.” MDA hellas runs three units at state hospitals (Children’s Hospital “Agia Sofia” in Athens, AHEPA in Thessaloniki, and University General Hospital of Rio in Patras).
Also running at the 5k race were Olympic track and field athletes Pigi Devetzi and Niki Bakogianni, along with former international football player Giorgos (“Giourkas”) Seitaridis.
Two of the runners included 88-year-old Giorgos Doussis, who is a dedicated runner, and Kyria Stamatia, who was a personal friend of pacifist doctor, athlete and politician Grigoris Lambrakis who was murdered in 1963, and who said she runs to honor his memory and his values.
Health protocols in place restricted the number of runners in the races, which were cancelled in 2020 due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. All races – Marathon, 5km and 10km – were carried out in groups of two with different starting times, to avoid congestion. The main event of the weekend, the 38th Athens Authentic Marathon, is taking place on Sunday and concludes at the Panathenaic Stadium.