ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Organizers of the Athens Marathon say the elite competition has been dropped from this year's race due to financial difficulties.

In a statement Tuesday, the Greek Athletics Federation said the decision had been taken for the Nov. 8 race "in light of the economic challenges facing the country and its people."

The amateur race will still take place and is expected to attract a record 16,000 runners, organizers said.

Funding for Greek sport has been severely hit by the country's financial crisis.

The race — run at the first modern Olympics in 1896 — retraces the route an Athenian messenger took in 490 BC to bring his fellow citizens news of the victory in the Battle of Marathon against the invading Persians.