Did you know that tackling 26.2 miles in the Chevron Houston Marathon can take you another 6,000 miles – all the way to Athens, Greece?

The Houston group that traveled to Greece in 2008.

Just ask Melinda Davis-Malesevich, MD and Jamie Demahy, who are headed to Greece in November as part of the Houston-Athens Marathon Exchange program.

When Jamie found out that he was one of two trip winners, he immediately “got on the internet to research what it was going to be and made plans for the grandparents to watch the kids” so he and his wife could both make the trip in the fall.

Each year, one male and one female runner who crosses the finish line of the Chevron Houston Marathon in less than four hours and lives in the greater Houston area is selected for an expenses-paid trip to Greece and a race entry into the historic Athens Classic Marathon through the Houston-Athens Marathon Exchange. A nonprofit program founded in 1988 by George Sarantopolous, the Houston-Athens Marathon Exchange creates a link between the historic Greek marathon and modern-day races. The 2012 Houston-Athens Marathon Exchange will mark the program’s 25th anniversary.


Founded in 1982, the Athens Classic Marathon commemorates the 500 years since the Battle of Marathon. The race course approximates the historical run that began the tradition of 26.2-mile races today with the Panathenaic Stadium, the site of Greek runner Spiros Louis’s victory in the first modern Olympic Marathon in 1896, marking the finish line. Melinda and Jamie are not only given the opportunity to run in the race, but also receive seven nights’ accommodations and guided sightseeing tours around Athens.

Brant Kotch, president and race director of the Houston Marathon Committee, went along for the ride in 2008 and encourages all running fans to consider taking the trip. (Check out his snapshots from the trip in the slideshow!)

“The program yields a tremendous opportunity for a couple of our regular runners every year – a weeklong trip to the home of the marathon, with all of the attendant historical, cultural and athletic implications,” he said. “The trip, with guided tours, is a little different every year, but the sponsoring group knows Greece inside and out and makes every trip an experience never to be forgotten. I highly recommend it!”

Jamie said he is looking forward to “seeing the must-see tourist sites in Athens and the surrounding area.”

“Having not been there, I’m excited about getting to look around just not Athens but the surrounding Greek countryside and getting to experience Greek culture,” he said.  “The Houston Marathon Committee already has things set up for us, so that was nice.”

The 2011 trip takes place November 9 to 16 and is open to the public; however, the deadline for the $200 deposit is June 15, so don’t wait if you are interested in going! Visit our website for more information, including a detailed itinerary and total cost of the trip.

For those of you who would like a chance to win this trip next year, registration for the 2012 Chevron Houston Marathon is now open through June 23. Click here to enter the lottery.

If you won the trip to Greece, what would you like to visit the most? Comment below and give Melinda and Jamie some sightseeing ideas!