ATHENS, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- In the final stretch to the 37th Athens Marathon this Sunday, elite athletes appeared determined to do their best to break the race's record.
Approximately 60,000 runners from 120 countries and regions will participate in the 42km classic route from Marathon to Athens on Sunday and parallel shorter distances which are held also on Saturday.
Several Kenyan athletes, like Daniel Muindi Muteti, 25 years old, are considered frontrunners. Earlier this year in Cape Town he clocked 2:09:25.
"We are generally happy for being hosted here. I am ready to cause a record. Thank you," he said on Wednesday.
His compatriot, Rhonzas Lokitam Kilimo, 23, chose Athens for his debut in the marathon race. His personal record in the half-marathon is 60:49.
"I know of course the race should be very competitive and I am very prepared to run for coming Sunday and look forward to the record," he told media.
Kenyan runner Kandie Felix holds the best time in the authentic course since 2014, when he clocked 2:10:37.
Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge became the first runner to break the 2-hour mark for marathons in October this year, clocking 1:59:40 in Vienna.
Regardless of records and distances, the crowd inside Panathenaic Stadium, the marble venue of the 1896 first modern Olympic Games, will cheer for all runners who will cross the finish line, the Hellenic Athletics Federation (SEGAS), which organizes the event, stressed.
The Marathon race, in particular at the birthplace of the event, is not about competing with others, but trying to stretch your own limits and move forward, it is about sportsmanship and friendship, Greek athletes stressed.
"My goal is a good performance, a good time. I will go after the first place, but I'm very glad that the running movement is progressing and increasing," said Gloria Privileggio, a long-distance runner who competed in marathon at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha this September, finishing 29th. She will participate in the 10km race this Saturday.
Panagiotis Karaiskos finished 3rd among Greek athletes last year in Athens. He will participate in the Athens Marathon for the 7th consecutive year.
"This is a race which I remember even before starting running I would go to the Panathenaic stadium and I would shed tears seeing other runners crossing the finish line," he said.
The Marathon race was inspired by the legend of the ancient soldier Pheidippides who first ran the 42km classic route from the Marathon battlefield to Athens in 490 BC to announce to his fellow citizens the Athenians' victory against the Persians.
According to the legend, the messenger managed to say "we won" before dying of exhaustion.