This week’s interview has been conducted by Niandi Carmon from sdpo.com. Before taking part in the Alexander the Great Marathon, in Thessaloniki, Greece, Niandi had the opportunity to meet Giorgis Karagiannis, its organizer.
First what got you involved in race organization?
Well I was a professional runner and when my running career was over I decided to go into Race Organization to give back to the sport what it had given to me.
Can you tell me a little about how the Alexander the Great Marathon started?
The idea germed in 2005 at the local Triton Club meetings. At the time Athens Marathon was the only well-known road marathon in Greece. We thought it would be a great idea if the second largest city in Greece, Thessaloniki hosted a marathon too and so 2006 saw the birth of the 1st edition of the Alexander the Great Marathon.
How would you describe the course?
It’s a point to point course starting in Pella the birthplace of Alexander the Great and the ancient capital of Macedonia. It starts in front of the statue of Alexander the Great and finishes at the White Tower in Thessaloniki the present capital of Macedonia, in front of the statue of Alexander the Great on horseback. So the route is very historical and symbolic of Ancient Greece and present day Greece.
The course is flat with long stretches of road and thus fast so an ideal course for a PB.
What is the course record (male/female)?
For men it’s held by a Kenyan runner: 2:11:37 and the female record is held by an Algerian 2:28. Neither of these was broken this year.
Are there any other races organized around the marathon?
There’s a 5km and a 10km as well as a 1km fun run for kids all on the same day as the marathon.
What kind of runner do you hope to attract to the event?
We have invited elite runners to the event but we presently don’t have the budget to invite too many. We’re hoping to attract more international runners – keen and passionate everyday marathon runners who wish to travel and discover another city and culture and why not aim for a PB with a flat fast course and ideal weather conditions.
What has been the increase in field from 2006 to 2014? And how do you explain this? Double in 2013?
The recession probably has something to do with the massive increase from 800 runners all races combined in 2006 to 14800 in 2014 strangely enough. You don’t need much to run, just a pair of shorts, a t-shirt and run shoes.
Having said this, the success of Thessaloniki has come as no surprise to me – I believed it would take off from the beginning and this is only a start.
What kind of weather can runners expect this time of the year?
Ideal weather for a marathon – 14°C to 18°C. It’s not hot this time of the year but not cold either – just right.
The symbol behind the flame ceremony?
Peace, sharing, bringing people together in difficult times – in a nutshell the Olympic spirit!
Can you tell us a bit about the charities you support?
We support quite a few charities: ELEPAP the Greek Company of Protection of Disabled Children, DESMOS who organize collection of diapers and milk powder for the needy children in Thessaloniki, Adoption Donation and Children’s Villages SOS.
The Lonely Planet rated Thessaloniki as the 5th party city in the world. What would you recommend pre and post-race for runners to make the most of their time here?
Definitely the restaurants – Thessaloniki is famous for its good food and fine dining. Then there is the café culture, the night-life which goes on throughout the night, sight-seeing in the old parts of the city and for those who prefer farniente there are our beautiful beaches
The marathon is part of AIMS which you also promote. Tell us a bit about the organization.
AIMS (Association of International Marathons and Distance Races) is a member based organization of more than 350 of the world’s leading distance races, from over 100 countries & territories. We exchange information and work closely with the IAAF to ensure race standards are met.
There are many other marathons on the same day as yours! 3 words to sell your marathon!
Greek food, Greek hospitality and a lot of fun.
Niandi Carmont, is a passionate ultra-runner who’s been travelling the world for the past 18 years in search for new experiences. She is also the UK representative of SDPO (Sport Développement Organization Performance) second largest French multi-stage race organization with 20 years experience in multi-stage events on the Silk Route in China and India.