Most people know the history of Pheidippides, the Greek soldier who 2500 years ago ran from Marathon to Athens to announce the Greeks victory.. and then apparently died!! This spawned the name for the distance “Marathon” and in the first modern Olympics in 1896 it was started as the ultimate test of distance (albeit 40km not 42.. google it.. we owe the last 2km to the king of England).
For Andreas and Chris the Athens marathon lived up to its aurora and history as one of the marathon classics… and so did the infamous Greek hospitality! Flying in on Friday night Andreas and Chris resisted the temptation to indulge in feta, olive oil, ouzo and all the other amazing foods, instead eating (and in Andréa’s case drinking!!) our weight in carbs to prep for race day! Race day itself was a marathon in every sense of the word.. getting up at 5:30 to catch a 6:15 bus to the town of Marathon is far from normal, and definitely meant pre race nutrition was very pre pre race.. the bus journey itself follows the course in reverse.. so as the sun rose we got a feel for how tough this route would be!
The race starts at the athletics stadium in Marathon with the marathon oath being broadcast on the speakers and then you’re off! Chris being optimistic started in wave 1.. which consisted of 300 runners.. The 300 Spartans as it felt very aggressive. The course itself is recognized as one of the hardest of the major marathons.. 8km flat, followed by 10KM undulating and then 12km of slow and steady climbing.. which saps the energy from the legs.. and the soul as you just follow one wide roads as it snakes up the hill! Thankfully every town you pass through is full of kids, families, the elderly who have all come out to support the runners! The last 10km should be easy as its downhill into Athens but by this point Andreas was having major cramp problems .. thankfully a Greek man was more than happy to help and volunteered to rub his legs and give him a pep talk! Chris on the other hand had been way too optimistic 2 weeks after his last marathon and had completely ran out of energy! So it was.. like poor old Pheidippides that both of them were suffering as they entered the 2300 year old Panathenaic Stadium in the sun to finish the epic challenge..Marathon to Athens to deliver the message that you should all add it to your marathon bucket list.. but definitely prepare yourself mentally and physically!
In true Expatries style what then followed was TGI Fridays… beer.. and then a post marathon house party with fantastic greek food, company and hospitality.. and planning the race race! A quick shout out to Andreas’ 54 year old uncle who finished his 18th Athens marathon.. bringing his total to an epic 28.. what a hero!!