The distance between Marathon and Xiamen cities is very long. The former is located opposite Euboea and the latter opposite Taiwan. In theory, they have nothing in common. Nonetheless, they are preparing joint projects for the future. Marathon – the city where the sport of marathon was initially born – and Xiamen – the city where the leading international marathon* is taking place – signed a sister-city agreement six years ago. The agreement was based on mutual trust and respect.
In particular, on the initiative of former Mayor of Xiamen and current China’s State Oceanic Administration Minister, Mr Liu Cigui, the Embassy of China in Greece approached the mayor of Marathon, Mr Spyros Zagaris in 2007, paving the way for the sister-city accord one year later. Mr Dimitris Kyriakides, son of the legendary marathon winner Stelios Kyriakides, says to chinaandgreece that the Greek delegation had then visited Xiamen many times and both mayors had been keen on expanding the collaboration. But, as he explains, ‘the next Mayor, Mr Iordanis Louizos, was not particularly interested in the project’.
For the new Mayor of Marathon, Mr Ilias Psinakis, relations between Marathon and Xiamen are of utmost importance. As members of his personal office say to chinaandgreece, ‘Mr. Psinakis closely co-operates with his municipality staff to organise cultural, educational and sport events with Xiamen’. Although he will not be able to attend the Xiamen marathon this year, the municipality of Marathon will be certainly represented.
The same sources assert that ‘Chinese people consider the sister-city agreement between Xiamen and Marathon as highly important paying particular attention to history. In their undersatnding, the lemma Marathon should not – in the first instance –be associated with running, as it happens with the majority of people using it. By contrast it has to principally refer to the Greek city and its great history’.
Xiamen has stamped its friendship with Marathon by offering two statues in the Marathon Run Museum. Mr Kyriakides comments on this by reminding that Xiamen is the only city which honoured Greece for the 2500 years anniversary since the Marathon Battle. In 2010 it also issued special stamps’.
* The first Xiamen marathon was organised in 2002. Since 2004 it is deemed by IAAF as ‘Gold Label Road Race’ where more than 80.000 athletes participate in four different runs with the same starting point. Thousand of people tend to attend.