Rewind back to 2008, my roommate Carlos suggested to our running circle of friends, that we should all do the Athens Marathon 2009. So many of us were so down to do it and excited, but plans fell through. In 2009, we noticed that the 2010 Athens Classic was going to be a special milestone race, 2,500th Anniversary of the original Battle of Marathon. Sold! I was NOT about to miss this one! Once they announced the next Athens Classic, Carlos and I e-mailed the planning organization of the event and got details. We kept going back to the site to see when registration would open. We would always keep tabs and update each other on the status. It wasn’t a few months later that they opened it, and we were one of the first to register! We didn’t care if we didn’t have a plane ticket or plans for hotels or hostels yet, we figured we’ll get that later. We started a Facebook Group to gain interest, and we had a good 40 or so people interested, but in the end, there were 10. The ten consisted of me and Carlos’ mutual friends from past Team in Training teams and friends of friends. We kept in touch via a more filtered e-mail group of the runners 100%. From there we shared our travel plans, travel deals and tips. We all had different room situations and different flight schedules, but I thought planning of everything went smoothly.
Fast forward to last weekend. Wow, I can’t believe a week already has passed since the big race. I flew via Lufthansa to Germany for a layover. It was delayed a an hour or so though, so I didn’t get to Greece until after midnight! Ok, super late at a country very unknown to me, wasn’t very ideal. This was where I should’ve had my little folder of fun and preparations could have been better. I took a $50 cab ride because I had no idea how iffy the busses or trains were. I didn’t understand any writing or signs, so I played it safe. I also had to make sure the cab wasn’t trying to rip me off either. I didn’t get to my hostel until 1ish. Our hostel situation was sweet at Athens Backpackers, as it was one of the highest rated hostels on Hostelworld.com, super clean, friendly staff, and we were able to meet so many people as they shuffled us around room to room. The first day my roomies were a bunch of girls from Milwaukee who didn’t get to the room until 4am. Super fun bunch, but they had to leave.
The first few days were all about getting some sightseeing done with Kyle (who was the first of the group to arrive), and getting my racenumber at the Health Expo. A good part of it was exploring the neighborhood to get a good bearing of everything. Carlos and his old IronTeam teammate Kim were the next to arrive, so I showed them the Expo as well. With the marathon the next day, we met up with my friend Nicole whom I went to high school with to find a pasta dinner to carb up with. Food anywhere we went in Athens was so amazing! You can tell there was a lot of care put into any of the dishes, as they should!
The next morning, a shuttle nearby our hostel took everyone to the city of Marathon, which was the start. The location had the Olympic Flame burning, heroic music playing in the background, a track to do warm ups, and plenty of places to sit and rest. The energy was high, as everyone was pumped to run this historic route. It meant so much to me running this event, because as a runner, this is the event that started it all. We were all in awe. Corrals were strict, as there were people checking your race bib if your color matches the corral color, in this case, they call it “blocks.” The start of the race was a bit funny because I think they planned for an epic start with the balloons flying everywhere, but nope, the balloons went in different times, some were still bunched up and tangled. Oops! A helicopter was flying overhead, getting a nice aerial shot.
I was in the block with Kim, and we pretty much ran together from beginning to end. For most of the course, there was no shade, mainly on a highway, and from mile 5 to 20 – UPHILL. It was an overall gradual uphill, and part of steepness. We all weren’t planning on PRing this race anyway, and we knew we would stop if we had to if we’re tired or if we wanted to take pictures, which we did. There were pockets of crowds when we went from town to town, and we could definitely notice the difference in crowds and architecture. You could also tell which parts of the course were new & made specifically nicer for the event. Carlos eventually caught up to us a little after halfway, and we were partying it up with our ipods in our music sessions. We sang when we wanted, sometimes even doing some dance moves. We were basically just enjoying the fact that we were in ATHENS! Carlos dropped off at mile 24 or something so he could take in the sights and sounds in the final miles of the marathon. Kim and I ran it in together, and let me tell you, that finish was one of the BEST finish areas in my now 10 marathons! How can you top finishing at THE Olympic stadium, running on the track, Athenians on the seats cheering you on, music blasting, and everyone just celebrating their finish of the Athens Classic Marathon!