The Nemean Games – run the 100m in an original Greek stadium

April 10, 2012



When did you last have the opportunity to run the 100m in one of the original Greek stadia dating back to 300 BC, your name being announced as you emerge, blinking and barefoot, from the dark of an ancient tunnel into the bright sunshine of the stadium, having just changed into a white tunic in the first ancient locker room ever unearthed by archaeologists? 

I thought not – me neither!  But our chance to do so is on 23 June 2012, when the fifth Nemean Games (held every four years) will be held in Nemea, in the Southern Peloponnese area of Greece.  See www.nemeangames.org to register (you need to do so by 15 May latest).  It’s free, and you’ll enjoy not only an amazing experience, in racing just as runners from antiquity did*, but will also enjoy a village feast in honour of the Games afterwards, with acclaimed Nemean wineries providing local tipples of excellent quality to accompany the feast.

(*With two key differentials – runners can now wear a tunic, whereas the Ancient Greeks ran naked, having anointed their bodies with olive oil – and women are now allowed both to run and to watch, which they were not permitted to do at the ancient Games.)

One of the original Pan-Hellenic Games, along with the Delphic Games, the Isthmian Games and the Olympian Games, the Nemean Games are claimed to be the forerunner of the United Nations and today’s Olympic Games.

Says Stephen Miller, Professor Emeritus of Classical Archaeology at Berkeley, California, who discovered the site at Nemea and who remains very much involved:  “These Games encouraged the Ancient Greeks to stop fighting and to compete on a friendly basis via sport.  People from many countries have taken part over the past four games.  We welcome all to join us at the fifth Nemean Games this year, in the spirit of international understanding and in support of Greece during its current economic problems.”

One could say that the need to instil friendly competition in lieu of war into the human psyche is as important today as it was in the days of yore.

Travel PR’s client Sunvil Holidays has put together a one-week trip for £671 pp (two sharing), departing 17 June, inclusive of flights (Gatwick to Kalamata), transfers, accommodation in a one-bedroomed Lido Apartment in the seaside village of Tolon and return taxi transfers to the Nemean Games, for those who wish to race or to participate by cheering on the runners.  The Peloponnese is a beautiful area of Greece with beaches, countryside and many ancient sites to explore; it was immortalised in Patrick Leigh Fermor’s book Mani – travels in the Southern Peloponnese.

(Sue Ockwell)