Sunday, July 8, 2012

Marathon-Athens: the original and classic marathon

 For the first time since I have been running, I could not run during my summer vacation with my broken shoulder. That hurts both physically and mentally... However, I could not visit Greece without honoring Pheidippides (aka Phidippides or Philippides) and his ultimate run between the battlefield of Marathon and Athens. After visiting Mycenae and Corinth, we arrived in the small town of Marathon around 4 pm. The plan was to just spot the start line and locate the bus stop that I would use the next day but, instead, Agnès suggested that I took the opportunity of being there to walk a few miles. Without much notice and preparation I left around 4:30 pm, with Max for the first 2 miles to see how I was doing. Walking at 17 min/mile pace was ok although the shoulder was really hurting especially every time I had to "climb" up or down the sidewalk (yes, it is that bad...).
After leaving Agnès, Max and Greg around mile 2, I felt that I may not be able to complete the whole distance at this pace so I did speed up a bit and managed to get the pace down to 16:34 by mile 12 (yeah...!). While the first 4 miles or so had the path highlighted with a red stripe on the sidewalk on each side of the busy highway, the next 15 miles were awful in terms of running path and you barely have to run on the road against cars at 40 to 50 mph which is not only very dangerous but also quite unpleasant. This, plus the fact that you keep running (or walking in my case...) through unattractive neighborhoods, is why I called this marathon the most boring in my Facebook update...
Of course there is the symbolic appeal of running this historic and original course which led to our popular and modern version of our marathons, and the mythical distance which defines the ultra marathon discipline but I strongly suggest you combine your visit to Greece with the annual official race so you don't have to "fight" the car traffic and brave its danger (check the Athens Classic Marathon website for the date, typically in November). Here is the Center for the promotion of the Marathon race in... Marathon:
Not counting a 15-minute stop at a super market at mile 12 to refuel (water, chocolate milk, Snicker, potatochips), I managed to cover the whole distance just under 7 hours, my slowest marathon so far... See my Picasa album for a few shots of the start by Greg, and the finish at the impressive and inspiring finish, the Panathinaikon Stadium (at midnight...).


David Williams said...

All the more credit to you, Jean, for finishing it with a banged up shoulder. You made pheidippides proud!

Anonymous said...

Une nouvelle fois, bravo pour ton courage.
Très intéressée par les photos de l'album.
Effectivement ce marathon semble être le plus "ennuyeux"qui soit...enfin tu l'as fait!

Eleanor Briones said...

It was too bad about your shoulder, but at least you got to go on the marathon, albeit in a more leisurely pace. Have you gone back there and tried it at your full pace? Should be something to look forward to. Cheers! – Eleanor