Athens Marathon 10th Nov 2013
[Tue 19th Nov]
After reading an article by North East Marathon Club stating that you couldn’t call yourself a true marathon runner until you have run Athens, Adele and I set off for a trip to the sun. Athens after all is the birthplace of the marathon following the tale of Pheidippides epic run. It also amused us that the race started in Marathon.
We were accompanied by 3 very experienced marathon runners from the North East Marathon Club, who have each completed over 200 marathons. We spent the Friday with them at the Expo collecting our numbers and buying new running apparel which we really didn’t need!!
Saturday was a trip to the shops and we were amazed at how cheap things are in Athens, and our suitcase was much heavier coming home than it was going.
Marathon morning we were up ridiculously early (4.30am local time, 2.30am UK time) to catch a bus to the start at marathon. It was a glorious sunny morning and it soon started to heat up. The start was very well organised and the marathon flame had been lit the night before ready for the runner’s arrival.
We set off at 9am with the sun in our faces and the temperature soon reaching 28 degrees. Had I have done more research on this race I would have seen on Wikipedia that this is “one of the most difficult marathon races” and they were not wrong!! The course is uphill from 10k to 21k, the toughest uphill of any major marathon!! Mix this with the high temperatures and we were soon facing pretty difficult,uncomfortable conditions.
In 2004, Paula Radcliffe pulled out of this course at mile 22 and sat on the side crying. We know how she felt.
The last and most difficult part started at Gerakas, finishing at Stavros Junction between 30 and 31K. We then started descending towards the City Centre. The final kilometre was a long downhill stretch and then entering the historic Panathenaic Stadium was a fantastic experience (and quite a relief that it was over!).
We were very happy with the finisher’s medal, shaped like the stadium and wore it with pride on the flight home that night.
Overall this is a very well managed race, but I have experienced it now and I am happy that I have, but this is one which I never intend doing again.
For the record Davina and Adele finished side by side in a time of just over 4˝ hours.