Well here I am, one week post Authentic Athens Marathon and I'm happy to report that I am super fine and feeling great beyond my expectations.
I left for Athens with one split goal in mind. Get a BQ to return to Boston 2017 or run the Authentic Athens Marathon to have nothing but unadulterated fun.
This news just in: I had a ball in Greece, the people of this country were the friendliest most hospitable that I've met anywhere in the world. And to give a shout out to Marathon Tours & Travel for putting together a super tour package that included a world class marathon.
I must admit that before starting my travel to Greece I was a bit worried about the Syrian refugee problem in the Middle East. I was more concerned with this problem in Turkey and not so much Greece. This is why I passed up the opportunity to run Athens and Istanbul as a twofer in 11 days.
Nov 8, 2015 - Race Day - Athens Greece. I got as much sleep as I could the night before but soon figured out that I had burnt the candle at both ends mixing in more vacation with marathoning before the marathon. I must have been on my feet way too long the week before race day.
Anyway, race day morning started at 4:am with a prepared breakfast in the restaurant of the Hotel Hera with many of my new friends and runners from all over the world that I have met during my vacation. With breakfast finished we assembled in front of the hotel where our tour bus took us some 45 K to a stadium in Marathon Greece where we mixed and mingled with about 16000 runners from over 100 countries around the world.
The organization of this race was rather loose but very well organized. Plenty of "Green Temples of Doom" at and close by the starting line and lots of space to move around. The temperature was at 49 degrees, a wind coming in from behind from the sea with some early morning fog still in the area which started to burn off as the race started running directly into the morning sunshine.
9:00am, the race started sharply and the herd was off....It seemed to take about three miles or so to get into the open where one could open up and run ones race. I decided early on that I would enjoy myself and emerse myself in the moment of this historical race! Here I am running the 33rd running of the Authentic Atnens Marathon some 2500 years after Phidippides ran it, I'm here running in his footsteps from Marathon to Athens. It really was a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget.
The race starts off on a very slight down hill slope, very slight and very short and then fairly flat out to about 10k. I felt very good at this time running along looking at the sights, the sun was up and the heat was growing hotter quickly. At about 5km we ran around the Marathon Tomb and on towards Athens.
At @ 10Km the mostly flat rolly polly hills started a seemingly never ending up hill battle. The course seemed to remind me of the Boston Marathon Marathon even though the elevation on the course never went above 250 ft above sea level. We seemed to run through about seven different towns before reaching Athens. From about 5Km to 17.5Km the Mediterranean Sea was off to our right shoulders.
The crowd levels were higher in the town areas but were well represented in the rural areas. At about 20 Km the locals were out handing the runners Olive branch Lorals to wear on their heads as they pushed on to Atnens. The heat of the day really started coming on strong out about 20Km rising to about 75 0r 80 degrees by the end of the day.
The tallest of the hills on the course started at about 20Km and hit the top at about 30km where it turned into a gentle down hill run to the finish. I was feeling pretty good at this point in the race, even though I wasn't going all out. I continued putting one foot in front of the other and continuing to keep myself hydrated on the hot two lane black top.
Now it was on to Athens....at the end of the race you find yourself in downtown Athens, to the north & east you can see the Akropolis and other famous ancient ruins and just then your entering the marble 1896 Panthinaiko Stadium which was the Olympic Stadium built for the First Modern Olympics, and there I was running into it and headed to the finish line with the crowd in the stands welcoming all the runners to the end. It was glorious experience running this marathon in an ancient yet modern land for the rest of my time.
I finished the Marathon in 4:54:44 and I felt like Pheidippides running the 42 km from Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated at the battle of Marathon.