Marathon man runs 2,200 kms to mark anniversary

Updated: Oct 21, 2010, 17:22 PM IST

Athens: German social worker Juergen Mennel arrived in Athens on Thursday after running 2,200 kms in 30 days to mark the 2,500th anniversary of the battle of Marathon.

Mennel, 50, arrived at the Panathenaic marble stadium where he was greeted by Greece`s culture and tourism minister Pavlos Geroulanos at a special ceremony.

"It was a great feeling to finally get to the great stadium. I am very honoured by the reception and just happy to have arrived," Mennel told reporters.

"It was getting a bit much with all the media attention during the run but I`m very proud. The training was incredibly difficult. There were days when I thought that I would have to stop because I`m not a machine but I was prepared mentally and kept going."

Mennel had planned to cover the distance from his home in Heilbronn, southwest Germany, in 27 days and in the end was three days over his estimate.

His run was one of several events marking this year`s anniversary of the original marathon run, culminating in the 28th Athens Classic Marathon on Oct. 31.

In August, Greek marathon record holder Maria Polyzou, 42, became the first woman to complete the 520-km run from Athens to Sparta and back to pay tribute to the legend of Athenian soldier Pheidippides, who is said to have run the distance to request help from the Spartans before the battle began.

The myth of the origins of the marathon dates back to 490 BC when Pheidippides, carrying the news of a Greek victory over the Persians, is said to have run from Marathon to Athens to announce victory.

This year`s edition of the Athens Classic Marathon has attracted a record number of 12,500 athletes, 80 percent of them from abroad, compared to 4,000 last year.

Bureau Report