Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Chasing Pheidippides...Running the Athens Marathon - Part one

My running buddy who is also my best friend turned 40 this year. I have know this lovely lady since we were preschoolers. We have been through a lot together and also started our running addiction together.  For her birthday, I promised to take her anywhere in the world to run a marathon of her choosing. After searching online for a few months, we decided that Athens was where we were headed.

Sure, there are tons of races out there and many of them are on my bucket list of races I want to run, but Athens was definitely near the top. Any marathoner you speak to should know the significance of Athens. It is where the marathon originated. Check here to see the whole story, but here's my quick version. The marathon is named after a Greek legend that tells a tale of a messenger, Pheidippides who was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to announce the defeat of the Persians around 490 BC. After running the distance to Athens and delivering the great news, Pheidippides collapsed and died.

The route that we ran traced the route of the 1896 Olympic course starting in Marathon on the eastern course of Attica, the site of the Battle of Marathon of 490 B.C., and ending at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens.

Because of my benefits with working for and airline, we were going to be travelling standby for most of our flights.  We would be traveling through 3 different countries in 7 days. Trains, planes, and buses.  We started our trip on an early Wednesday morning and flew out to London Heathrow. Since it was a day flight and with all our excitement, we didn't sleep and watched movies and had a glass of wine to celebrate our up coming race. We arrived in London the same time as my cousin who was flying in from Biarritz and made our way down to her flat for a quick stopover as we had about 24 hours before our next flight to Athens. Our first stop was at her local pub around the corner from her place. My buddy had never been to a traditional British pub, so off we went and chugged down a pint and had some nice chit chat before heading back to crash at her place. After 3 hours on her couch, we were off to catch a bus to a local airport about an hour away to catch our flight to Athens.

Cheers from London
After a bumpy bus ride and a 3 and a half hour flight we were finally in Athens. We had been on the road for over 36 hours with barely 6 hours of sleep. We were exhausted by also pumped with knowing that we had finally arrived. After figuring out our way to our apartment, we were on our way to the expo to pick up our race packet.

On the roof of our apartment with the Acropolis behind us

We didn't have much time to get to expo as we had been taking our time to adjust to our new surroundings. After getting lost and trekking the dark streets of Athens, we made it to the expo with an hour to kill.

We were so happy to finally see a 'sign'

With Our Bibs
We did a quick walk through the expo after picking up our bibs and made our way back to our apartments. We were hungry and exhausted. We found a quaint little restaurant by our place, ordered some nice local fare and chowed down. 

Greek cheese with Tomatoes and Olive Oil

Grilled Squid w/local greens

It was a great start to our adventures in Athens. We were quickly back at our apartment and passed out from all our travelling. We had a few more days of exploring before the marathon, so rest was much needed.

Touring through Athens and race recap will be following in my next post.

Where's the furthest you have travelled for a race?

Which races are on your bucket list?

Thanks for reading.

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