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Subject: Athens marathon marks anniversary of legendary run

Written By: Philip Eno on 10/31/10 at 7:37 am

A record number of people have taken part in the Athens marathon to mark the 2,500th anniversary of the run which inspired the modern event.

In 490BC, the Athenian army defeated the Persians at the Battle of Marathon. According to legend, a messenger called Pheidippides ran the 42km (26 miles) to Athens to announce the victory.

More than 12,500 people ran the same route as Pheidippides on Sunday.

Despite the Greek financial crisis, the budget for the race has been increased.

1.5m euros (£1.3m) was raised for the event through sponsorship, compared with 900,000 euros (£780,000) last year.

Kenya's Raymond Bett won the men's race, with Lithuania's Rasa Drazdaukaite winning the women's event.

Our correspondent in Athens, Malcolm Brabant, says this anniversary offers Greece a chance to bathe in the glow of its glorious past and temporarily escape the depressing strait jacket of economic misery.

Organisers also hope the increased number of international participants will earn the city 25m euros in tourist revenues.

It is a tough race - the first 32km of the course are mostly uphill. Legend has it that Pheidippides collapsed and died from exhaustion and dehydration after his run.

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