Athens Classic Marathon: End of Season

That’s it, the season’s over. It is sort of sad but it ends on a high note !

I ran the Athens Classic Marathon on Sunday. What a truly magnificent race it was too.

It starts in the town of Marathon and follows the same route as the one used for the 2004 Olympics. It also more or less follows the route taken by Pheidippides (or Phidippides, or again Philippides) when he ran from Marathon to Athens in 490 B.C. to announce the victory of the Greeks over the Persians at the Battle of Marathon.

The race ends in the magnificent Panathinaiko Stadium built in white marble for the first modern Olympics in 1896. That is also the place where remains of an ancient stadium used for the original Olympic Games in ancient Greece were excavated.

The course was quite hard. The start is near the sea and the finish in Athens is 110 m higher. In between are several long climbs, just to keep things interesting.

Tthe organisation was very good: plenty of buses to take runners from Athens to the start, refreshments and water every 2.5 kms. Dozens of cheerful, dedicated volunteers handed out bottles and provided encouragement. There was even a stand at the airport to greet runners and give them a free card for public transport during the weekend. Greek hospitality at its best !

And what a collection of runners too ! Russians, Americans, Canadians, Japanese, Colombians (in some flash kit printed in Greek and Spanish), Italians, Spanish, French, Belgians, British. Greeks of course. And those were just the amateurs !

My own race was something special. I loved every minute of it. What a pleasure to follow such an historic route! Above all, I met a young English runner, Duncan, who is in the armed forces, on the bus and we discovered we both wanted to run at about the same pace. So off we went together, keeping each other company the whole way. Running with someone like that makes a big difference and I would not have achieved another personal best with Duncan’s company.

The trip to Athens was also the opportunity to catch up with co-blogger Maria who ran the 5 km race that was organised at the same time.

Posted by Xavier

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One Response to “Athens Classic Marathon: End of Season”

  1. Evita K Says:

    Dear Xavier,

    sorry I missed you out in Athens… You didn’t warn me in advance…

    Was it indeed a magnificent experience?

    Congratulations to you and Maria!:-)

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