By Alexia Vlachou
ATHENS, April 23 (Xinhua) -- The southern coast of the Athens Riviera was flooded with runners of all ages for the 8th International Poseidon Athens Half Marathon on Sunday, all in a bid to raise awareness for diabetes and obesity.
In a record turnout for the event, more than 4,000 people from five continents and 42 countries and regions participated in a half marathon and parallel racing events, including a charity and kids' route, a power walking event and a music marathon.
"It's for a good cause, and I think that this is something that everybody should take part in," a runner named Anna told Xinhua.
For Scot Stewart Crawford, who joined the half marathon for the second time, the experience was rewarding. "Running is good for our health and our mental capability," he said.
The event is held under the auspices of the Municipality of Palaio Faliro, in collaboration with the Greek National Tourism Organization and the Hellenic Diabetes Federation.
"We want all people to participate. Not only professional runners, but amateurs as well. We did our best to get more people out of their houses to start practicing outdoors. I think we succeeded. It is a day of celebration and love," Dionysis Hatzidakis, the mayor of Palaio Faliro city, told Xinhua.
The Poseidon Half Marathon gave the opportunity to all participants, from children to pensioners, to enjoy a fresh sea breeze running along the most beautiful spots of the Greek capital's southern coastline.
"The route is magnificent. Participants can make their way past Olympic venues, the Ilissos and Kifissos rivers' estuaries, the Naval Museum, which is housed on the battleship of Averof and Flisvos Park which is safe and open to all," said Yiannis Fostiropoulos, deputy mayor of Palaio Faliro, adding that they hoped to invite more Chinese runners to next year's event.
Its appeal has already expanded beyond Greece's boundaries, and organizers hope that it will evolve into a significant highlight of the marathon calender the coming years.
"We want through simple and interesting events to allow people to have a nice time. Despite the economic crisis, Greeks are hospitable and ready to welcome everyone who wants to visit our country," Fostiropoulos added.
With the phrase "Run and walk. Give value to your steps! Act against diabetes and obesity!" as its motto, the half marathon aims to promote healthier lifestyles.
"The race is dedicated to raising awareness about diabetes, a global epidemic of our century that concerns all countries across the world. 70 percent of amputations are linked to diabetes," Kostas Liapis, General Coordinator of the Poseidon Athens Half Marathon, told Xinhua.
Diabetes in conjunction with obesity has exploded during the recent years due to the sedentary lifestyles.
According to the latest data by the Hellenic Diabetes Federation, in Greece, 10 percent of the population suffers from diabetes.
The most worrying fact is that the number of people with diabetes has quadrupled over the past 30 years in Greece, and type one (or inherited) diabetes has increased by 3 percent every year in children and adolescents. In addition, type two (or acquired) diabetes is increasingly affecting younger children.