The Penny Marathon started rather serendipitously as an idea of two Greek-Australians. They were not runners, and had certainly never thought to run a marathon before, but they felt compelled to do something to bring attention to the plight of stray, abandoned, neglected and abused companion animals (cats and dogs).
When word spread over the internet that they were planning to run the original 42-kilometre route in Greece, they were approached by two seasoned runners who offered to join them. These runners, in turn, recruited some cyclists to help with on-road support.
It was with this spirit of solidarity that the Penny Marathon kicked off in the early hours of 16 July 2012 of what turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year. The team ran and cycled the original route from Marathon to Athens, and were given unprecedented permission to enter Kallimarmaro stadium home of the modern Olympic Games.
Encouraged by the experience, the run – known as the Penny Marathon – has become an annual event with teams now running and cycling (and not only) in cities around the world. The marathon is named after a Greek stray dog whose life, like many others like her, ended tragically.
The Penny Marathon may have started in Greece but what it stands for holds true elsewhere. While countries like Greece have a visible stray problem, there are many other countries that pride themselves on their clean streets – a status quo that is maintained by euthanising hundreds of thousands of healthy cats, dogs and other animals every year that simply cannot find homes.
Some figures suggest there are over a million stray companion animals living on the streets of Greece, fending for themselves, while 60,000 healthy animals are euthanised every year in Australia because they cannot find homes. Although the figures vary, the situation with regard to stray and unwanted cats and dogs toggles between these two extremes in any country on this planet.
Your donations help us save some of these lives. In Greece, for example, this help encompasses all stages of the rescue-rehome process. In Australia, we support established charities that save animals from euthanasia by finding them temporary accommodation until they are rehomed. As we grow, so will our support to animals in other countries.