Now, if there’s one contest that really belongs in this part of the world, it’s the Marathon. As legend has it, the original was run by the Greek messenger Pheidippides from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens in order to announce that the Persians had been defeated. Apparently, he sprinted the entire distance without stopping, bursting into the assembly to exclaim – or gasp, more likely: “we have won!” before collapsing and dying! All very dramatic, as legends go. Today, luckily, we’ve carried forward the better parts of his incredible journey (i.e. the lengthy run, rather than the spectacular expiration), and marathons have become part of sporting life, with more than 500 held globally each year. One of which will be happening right here on the island this coming weekend, and is most definitely deserving of all the spectator support you can muster.
The Logicom Cyprus Marathon takes place this year on March 8 and, along with the Half-Marathon and 10km Race held on the same day, is an event which is fast becoming a staple on the international runners’ circuit. Since 1999, more than 30,000 national and international runners and spectators have shown their support for an event that not only contributes to a huge boost in winter tourism, but also enriches both the social and athletic aspects of local life. Taking place under the auspices of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, and as part of the Paphos – European Capital of Culture 2017 activities, this year’s races look all set to challenge participants and delight supporters. Especially with all that beautiful scenery along a course that is, this year, both new and improved…
The shortest of the three events, the 10km Race, begins at the Fort and follows a mainly coastal route that passes Alykes Beach, Vrisoudia II, SODAP Beach and Pachyammos, taking in much of the Boardwalk before twisting northwards at the CTO Beach, heading up towards the Paphos Aphrodite Waterpark and then turning back on itself to finish right where it all began. The Half-Marathon follows a similar route, but continues past the Municipal Pool, Karting Centre and Mini Golf before rounding the Kato Paphos Junction and heading all the way to the Ezousa Roundabout, where there’s a short leg to Sfaageio Junction before the race for home. The full Marathon, meanwhile, will begin at Aphrodite’s Rock, following the B6 much of the way (with a short detour to the airport and back) before heading down to the Fort on a convoluted route through the town itself.
George Kakourides, the Marathon’s Marketing and Business Development Manager, assures us that this year’s minor route changes are “a bid to allow runners to improve their personal best time” and organisers have been “working tirelessly to make Cyprus Marathon one of the most popular events in the worldwide running calendar. The purpose of the event,” he adds, “is to provide an annual race where noted runners from other nations, and from here in Cyprus, unite via competition towards a common goal: that of the true athletic spirit and without barriers of race, colour or religion. It also gives you the opportunity to see a beautiful part of the world in the middle of three continents and to enjoy yourselves.”
Especially, one imagines, if you prefer watching to pushing yourself to your physical limits in one of the three strenuous events! Yes, those of us who were born to be spectators will be able to enjoy all the fun of the race with none of the nasty side- (or after-) effects! And if you are definitely planning to stake your claim to a spot and settle in for the long run (or long sit, as the case may be), bear in mind that organisers are also providing “a post-race offering of local delights in the main Paphos Square, both during and after the race, with bands, traditional dancing and a number of activities aimed at the entire family”.
So fish out the deckchairs and the coolbox, load the kids into the car and keep your fingers crossed for a spot of sunshine next Sunday. And rest assured that wherever you choose to set your seat, you’ll not only be offering much-needed support, but also enjoying some of the best scenery Cyprus has to offer. I mean, where else in the world would you find a marathon course so steeped in beauty, history and legend?
The Logicom Cyprus Marathon
Including the Half-Marathon and 10km Race. Sunday, March 8 in the areas surrounding Paphos. For further information, visit www.logicomcyprusmarathon.com, where you will find start times, full route plans and details of the related activities
By Alix Norman
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