The only woman who revived the legendary trail of the runner Pheidippides Athens – Sparta – Athens – Marathon 524 km.


Maria Polyzou was born in Patras in 1968. She got involved with sports, specifically in long distance races, from the time she was in school. Her coach encouraged her to go to the Athens academy for physical education. She graduated with a physical education degree specializing in long distance races. She ran for the esperos sports club of Patras and eventually for the Panhellenic sports club in Athens.

She was a member of the Greek national marathon team from 1986 to 2004. She won the gold medal in the national marathon championship in 1988 and in 1994. She has won nine gold medals in the national athletics championship in long distance races [1988/1993/1996/1997/2000] and two gold medals in the Panhellenic student championships[1989/1990]

She still hold the national record for the women’s marathon with 2:33:40 that she achieved in Budapest in 1998. She also holds the national record for the classical marathon with 2:39:10 and the national record for the half marathon with 1:13:31. She has broken the national record in the marathon and the half marathon 14 times in total.

She is the first Greek female long distance race athlete to take part in the Olympic games [Atlanta,1996]. She is the first female Greek long distance race athlete to win a gold medal in the Balkan games, athieving a Balkan record at the same time. She holds the highest ranking for a Greek female long distance race athlete in the world marathon championship.

She has participated in 15 major international marathon and half marathon events, finishing in top positions with the best being first place in the Balkan championship of Istanbul in 1990. She has participated as a lecturer in more than 20 international conferences on the marathon race and for this reason she has been honored with the title of Ambassador of the marathon.

She was director of the museum of the marathon road in marathon and is an honored citizen of Marathon. She is also member of the organizing committee of the Athens Classic Marathon and participates to this day in many organizations involved with the marathon all over the world. She has carried the torch of the Marathon race to the international marathon of Boston, Prague, Xiamen and Bombay.

In 1994, she married Apostolis Mavroyiannis with whom she has a daughter, Agapi. She lives in Athens and works as a coach for long distance runners and amateur sports enthusiasts who want to be initiated in the mental and physical virtues of the marathon road race, while at the same time she also coaches the alumni of Athens College – Psychico College.

In 2010, Maria Polyzou ran the “IMPOSSIBLE”. 2500 years after the battle of marathon, she ran a distance of 524 kilometers from the acropolis to Sparta and back to marathon, following the route of the runner of Antiquity, PHEIDIPPIDES. She became the first woman in the world to attempt to do so. Personally for her, the PHEIDIPPIDEIOS feat is the pinnacle of her personal achievements.

"Every new challenge is like a kind of initiation. It makes you realize what you are made of."