MARATHON, Greece, April 29 (Xinhua) -- More than 2,000 runners from all over Greece and the world participated on Sunday in the 5th annual half marathon run organized by the City of Marathon, which symbolizes the strength of the human spirit.
Among them were several Chinese, as China was the co-organizer of the first Marathon forum held here on April 27, aimed to promote the "Marathon culture" worldwide.
Linked by their love for marathon race and cordial friendship, Greeks and Chinese have laid at Marathon the foundations of new bilateral cooperation projects which will be beneficial for both countries and the international marathon movement, Marathon mayor Ilias Psinakis told Xinhua.
"It is very important for Greece and Marathon, because this is the authentic course. Everything started here," the mayor said, inviting more Chinese to visit Marathon and run on the footsteps of soldier Pheidippides who first run the 42 kilometers to Athens 25 centuries ago, according to legend.
"We are thinking, if we make it even next year, to bring here thousands of runners from all over China, from Beijing, Shanghai and all cities, to close down the roads and organize a marathon for Chinese only," he said.
Among Chinese runners who participated in the 21 kilometer route on Sunday was Shui Tao, Vice Secretary of the Chinese Athletics Association who addressed Friday's Forum.
Shui was in Athens for the 2004 Olympics, he ran the five kilometers course in the Greek capital in 2006 and has seized every chance to run in Greece ever since. This year it was the first time he took position at the starting point in Marathon after firing the starting shot for the half marathon with Psinakis and Gu Qing, President of Shanghai Paoyou information technology company.
"I wanted to have the experience in the marathon original place. It is very special. Greeks have a good experience in hosting marathon and in China now the marathon is very popular. Many times we exchange ideas on how to organize the athletics events, how to host a marathon event. It is very good for us," Shui said on Sunday.
Ge Jianglin participated in the 10-kilometer course. She has run in the Beijing Marathon but this was her first time running part of the original route.
"Running is more relaxing in foreign countries. In the case of the Beijing Marathon, there are 30,000 runners who get start in front of Tian'anmen in the race, so it is very spectacular. But here it is more relaxed and more enjoyable," she added.
Greek amateur runner Theocharis Marinelis participated in the marathon event in the 21-kilometer course for first time.
"There is certainly awe and strong emotions. It is a historic route, a historic place with thousands of years of history. This is why, I believe, so many people from all over the world, come here to start from this starting point," he said.
The legend, which inspired the modern marathon races across the world, states that soldier Pheidippides was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC. After running the distance nonstop and delivering the good news to Athenians, he collapsed and died.