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 animals in Greece.
When word spread over the internet in 2012, 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 hers, ended tragically.
In addition to raising awareness and educating the public about acceptable behaviour towards animals, the Penny Marathon is a way to honour the work of volunteers who step up – where inhumane and apathetic systems fail – to save the lives of these animals.