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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-09-27

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Cache of weapons recovered by divers off Vouliagmeni
  • [02] Japan's Sekiya Ryochi wins Spartathlon race

  • [01] Cache of weapons recovered by divers off Vouliagmeni

    Coast guard divers recovered a small cache of weapons and ordnance off a beach in the upscale Vouliagmeni resort, southeast of Athens proper.

    Divers turned up six hand grenades, four rocket launchers, five detonators, 46 shells and even a mortar on Sunday afternoon, some six metres from the shoreline and tucked under an underwater rock.

    The operation followed a unanimous call to police a day earlier.

    One of the hand grenades was neutralised by a bomb squad specialist, reports state.

    [02] Japan's Sekiya Ryochi wins Spartathlon race

    The 27th annual Spartathlon ultra-marathon race, which began in Athens on Friday, was concluded on Saturday in Sparta, located in the southeastern Peloponnese. The first athlete to cross the finish line on Saturday, in front of a statue of King Leonidas, was Japan's Sekya Ryochi, who completed the race after 23 hours, 48 minutes and 24 seconds, followed by Lars Christoffers of Denmark and Jon Berge of Norway in third place. The humble reward for the athletes' super-human effort was a "cotinos", a wreath made of wild olive tree branches and water from the Evrotas River delivered by a young woman from Sparta.

    The gruelling Spartathlon is a historic ultra-distance foot race that takes place every September in Greece.

    The race retraces the route of Pheidippides, whom the Athenian generals sent to Sparta to seek reinforcements for their sparse forces in order to confront what the ancient Greeks called the "Asian tide" (incursion), according to the historian Herodotus, who detailed the 490 BC Battle of Marathon.

    For 26 consecutive years, the Spartathlon athletes have followed the route John Foden and his team identified in 1982, when they researched several overland routes from Athens to Sparta. The current race's route is based on Herodotus' description of the Athenian 'Imerodromou', or messenger, who arrived in Sparta the day after he departed from Athens and also on well-known historical events of that time. It has, therefore, been considered the most accurate route in relation to Pheidippides' course.

    The battle of Marathon in 490 B.C., one of the most significant military clashes in history, constitutes a milestone in western civilisation. The strategic genius of Athenian general Miltiades and the self-denial of his citizen soldiers defeated the invading Persians armies and preserved Athens and Hellenism from the utmost danger of subjugation to invaders of an eastern despot. Marathon was the first victory to deflect and eventually defeat the envisioned penetration and domination of the European continent by the powerful and developed Persian Empire, an event of momentous significance. In the aftermath of the military victory, Athens became the pre-eminent Greek city-state and the epicentre of what is known as the eponymous Classical Age, during which the foundations for western democracy were laid.

    According to historians, the messenger Pheidippides left Athens heading west on the Iera Odos, or "sacred road," heading for the town of Elefsis. From there he followed the Skyronia Odos, a military trail on the slopes of the Gerania mountain range, travelling south through Isthmia, Examilia and ancient Corinth. He reached ancient Nemea, thus avoiding Epicratea of Argos, a rival of Athens, and he continued along the mountains between Argolida and Arcadia. Pheidippides climbed Mt. Parthenio (1,200 meters). Descending the mountain, he continued in the direction of Tegea, one of the locations mentioned by Herodotus in his account about Pheidippides. He then proceeded south toward the martial Sparta. Upon his arrival in Sparta, he completed 1,140 "stadia" (with one 'stadio' equalling the length of one stadium), totalling 246 kilometres.

    In 1879 the English poet Robert Browning wrote the stirring poem 'Pheidepeides'. It is said that the poem so inspired Baron Pierre de Coubertin and other founders of the modern Olympic Games that they were prompted to create a foot race of 42 km which would be named the Marathon.

    "Archons of Athens, topped by the tettix, see, I return!

    See, 'tis myself here standing alive, no spectre that speaks!

    Crowned with the myrtle, did you command me, Athens and you,

    "Run, Pheidippides, run and race, reach Sparta for aid!

    Persia has come, we are here, where is She?" Your command I obeyed,

    Ran and raced: like stubble, some field which a fire runs through,

    Was the space between city and city: two days, two nights did I burn

    Over the hills, under the dales, down pits and up peaks."

    Two and a half thousand years after that historical battle, a sports event, inseparably related to it, was born in Greece. The Spartathlon is inseparably linked with the Olympic ideals of friendship. peace, selflessness and fraternity./ANA-MPA


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