- 20 June 2021
The Mount Olympus marathon: an idea for an itinerary between myth and nature
The “Olympus Marathon” is an international competition that takes place in Greece on Mount Olympus, the famous mountain from the Greek mythology, better known as the Home of Gods.
Mountain Olympus apart from being a national park, is also part of the UNESCO heritage as “Biosphere Reserve”.
This marathon covers one of the most suggestive trails in the world since it is part of a myth and besides that, the same trail can be followed by whoever loves climbing, trekking or walking in a forest or by the traveler who wants to get as close as possible to Zeus.
At the footsteps of ancient Greeks: from the archaeological site of Dion to Zeus’ throne
The trail revives the sacred path that the ancient Greeks took every year to climb Mount Olympus to honor Zeus. The initial part of the marathon covers exactly this ancient path beginning from the ruins of the ancient sacred city of Dion, that is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece.
The principal competition starts from the archaeological site of Dion that is located on the plains of Mount Olympus and finishes at the highest peak at 2.780 m called “Mytikas” passing under “Zeus’s Throne”, one of the highest and steepest peaks. The route crosses the eastern side of Mount Olympus and the panoramic views that the athletes can enjoy is amazing such as the Muses Plateau.
The competition finishes after 44 km more or less at the village of Litochoro, that represents the doorway to Mount Olympus and the athletes will have experienced a difference in height of 3.200 m at a minimum time of around 10 h, even though there are many check points to reach before.
To give you an idea of the itinerary, around 38km are within mountain trails and just 6 km on asphalt road.
Some statistics of the Olympus Marathon
In 2021 the 17° edition will take place for a marathon that first began in 2004. At the first time only 115 participants registered, 101 out of those made it to the finish line. It is an annual marathon with the exception of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it usually takes place during the last weekend of June.
With the years it has become more popular and international, arriving most recently at more than 800 participants from more than 25 nations and the average age of those athletes was around 40 years.
Rules in order to participate and type of races
The participants can be either men or women that have reached 18 years of age and have to demonstrate that they have completed within the last 3 years at least two mountain races of 20km with a positive difference in height of at least 1000m or a race of 35 km with a positive difference in height of 2200 m.
Besides the principal race, one can choose between other types of racing. Like the famous one called “Olympus Vertical” that covers a difference in height of 1.024 m in just 4 km! This specific race has made it to the certified routes of the International Federation of Skyrunning.
Last but not least, there is a simpler race in height difference in the middle of the forests called “Eagles Ridge” that covers a trail of 14 km.
The route covers a suggestive scenery within forests and mountainous peaks
At the beginning from the archaeological site of Dion the first part of the race is paved and crosses the village of Dion. Then follows the country road that ascends a little bit and brings the athletes at the beginning of the mountainous trails.
The scenery is incredible. It crosses the Canyon of Orlias where the vegetation is very dense and one can hear the sound of the cascades while running through a pine forest.
Then the trail brings the athletes to the Koromilia Refuge at 1.200 m of height and after it a large and clean path begins. The vegetation becomes more and more scarse until the scenery becomes completely alpine at the highest point.
The runners will pass from the Muses Plateau from where the views are breathtaking to every direction you look at, in order to reach the highest point of the marathon at 2.780 m, practically under “Zeus’s Throne” and adjacent to the highest peak called “Mitikas”.
Once the runners reach the highest point, that’s when the descend begins with a spectacular view of the coast of Pieria, before they enter again the forest. The routes takes you at the aid station called Prionia, then through the Enipeas Canyon and by the old monastery of Agios Dionysios, all of this through a dense vegetation in order to reach the village of Litochoro.
All these mentioned places can become the fascinating stops of a traveler too, maybe combining a stay at the village of Litochoro, that is situated conveniently at a short distance from Mount Olympus and the sea.
Running at the “Mountain of Gods” offers the athletes the unique opportunity to participate at one of the principal races of its kind worldwide.
But even if you are not an athlete, you can experience all the same the routes or part of them, by crossing forests, enjoying cascades in the middle of mythological scenery that words cannot describe.
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