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Swiftest East Bay Footrace 

Greek Independence Day Run at Lake Merritt

Everyone knows the Greeks invented the marathon and the Olympic Games, and who wouldn't want to run fast when the winners are crowned with wreaths when they cross the finish line? Not to mention the fact that when runners finish, they're greeted by little old ladies serving spanakopita and Easter eggs -- all with the solemnity of a state dinner. "Plus the race is small; every time I've run it, I've managed to medal in my category," said one Oakland runner before this year's race. To top it off, the annual Greek Independence Day Run is short, flat, and picturesque. It's a five- and ten-kilometer jaunt around Oakland's Lake Merritt in commemoration of the Greek Day of Independence of March 25 -- the day Greeks celebrate the 1821 uprising against the Ottoman Empire, which ruled over Greece for nearly four hundred years.

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