Friday, 7 November 2008

Athens classical marathon

There is no marathon route more famous than the original marathon distance that Phidippides run in 490BC to spread the victorious news and then collapsed and died. Back then, no aerosoles, no water stations on the way, so probably the poor guy was sunstroke as it was hot in Athens back then as well :-)
Well, this Sunday, two and a half millenia after Phidippides historic run, the 26th Athens Marathon will take place. Many world reknown runners are expected to show up with Kenyans traditionally winning the race. I doubt if his highness, Gerbelassie, will come as he has just a month or so ago set a 2hours 4min new world record at the Berlin Marathon. The Athens marathon is not a fast one, as it is one of the hardest distances, not so much due to the heat, November is not a hot month, but due to its hilly route. I believe it is with the San Francisco marathon among the hardests in the world. Yet, it is the one that with the Berlin, Boston and New York receive the majority of world attention. Not every runner reaches the end line at Kallimarmaro, and not every runner cares to finish within a particular time. The feeling of achievement after completing a 42klm race must be wonderful. A feeling that I desperately want to experience at least once in my life. At 30, 50 or 80, it does not matter, marathon runners will always run.
This time I shall go for the 10k - there is a parallel race. 42klm seems too high a stake at this moment - remember there has only been 2 months that I quit smoking, still need to build lung stamina. However, it is not only the lungs that will suffer; the legs, especially the knee joints, the lower legs and the feet/ankles are seriously abused while running 42K. Yet, like everything in life, it takes practice and determination. Yiannis Kouros, one of the greatest ultra runners in the world (they run the marathon distance for breakfast) claims that running is predominantly a mental sport. I tend to agree.
Hope to see a lot of people running in the streets of Athens on Sunday.

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