Area named Plaka in Athens
From the alleys of Plaka at Anafiotika, to Archaia Agora, Thiseion and the footpaths of Filopappou. From the columns of the Temple of the Olympian Zeus, to Zappeio and the Parliament. That was the first venture for the three young members of a newly created team, named “Urban Trail Runners.” They decided to cross many areas of Αthens’ historical centre, through narrow streets and pedestrian areas, going up and down stairs, running through the crowd and enjoying great applause, or receiving a friendly heads up from the guards of the archaeological sites, since running in those sites is prohibited. First and foremost these three young people enjoyed a training very different to what they are used to.
Maria Malai, John Garoufas and Periklis Ripis are interested in sports and mainly in mountain running – which is actually what brought them together. Recently they decided to start an exercise, which is even more alternative: to explore beautiful or unknown areas of Greek cities, by recording themselves running amongst monuments, archaeological sites, parks and other interesting locations. This innovative movement has been decided with the hope that other professional and amateur runners will follow their example, and combine exercise with exploration of the urban environment. Their first video already has more than 5,000 views on YouTube and 300 runners have expressed their willingness to participate in the next venture of Urban Trail Runners. Urban Trail Runners videos area available on YouTube and on their Facebook page.
The only prerequisite to join Urban Trail Runners is to be in a good physical condition. The participants will be categorized based on their capabilities. The group’s aim is to motivate people who live in large urban conglomerations to leave home, and exercise by running through the most beautiful parts of their city. The group intends to visit a new city every month and soon they will start looking for sponsors to cover their transportation costs.
A New Trend
Urban Trail Running is one of the newest sports trends in Europe and America. It is a great way to exercise outdoors at no cost, and thanks to the variations in ground material and terrain, it has become an excellent alternative for those who enjoy mountain running. “Mountain running requires a lot of time which many of us don’t really have, because of our hectic way of live,” explains John Garoufas. The first urban trail contest took place last summer in Kerkira and there will be one more in May in Lamia. However, Urban Trail Runners don’t want to focus on the competitive part of the sport, but on the pressure valve, the entertainment and the relations that can be created among people who enjoy sports and love their cities. “We like urban trail running because we run without looking at the chronometer, without worrying about how many kilometers we’ll be able to run,” stressed Maria Malai. “In the future we would like to highlight many Greek cities and bring more people close to sports.”
Can you think of possible areas in your city, that you would like to explore by running through them?
The original article, published in Greek, can be found here.
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.