Tuesday, 2 November 2010

A piece of history

"If you want to be a part of history, please drop off your bags to the bag check in now!" pleaded the MC at the start line of the marathon in Marathonas - and he wasn't joking. Not that the trucks were really going to whisk away our bags for the 26.2 mile (1 hour winding road trip) back to Athens, but that we were really going to be a part of history.

Alongside the flame of Marathon, the awesome Joan Benoit Samuelson led us through the athlete's oath, and with right arm raised, and under a burning morning sun, we toed the start line with Samuelson, Raymond Bett and a number of stocky Greek men dressed as historic soldiers.

This was an marathon with hardly any flat surface, along motorways and highways and the only shade from a motorway underpass (that you then had to climb). But it was also an event passing ancient Greek statues, where old ladies passed you sprigs of olive leaves and robust men clapped and called out bravo. Where finally, as you entered the city of Athens, guards with pompom slippers supressed a smile and the crowds egged you into the wonder of an ancient stadium lined with flags and cheering masses and you really felt you were a part of something very special. So special, I didn't stop my watch, didn't care about time, just cared that I ran with a smile for nearly every step, that I sang Belinda Carlisle on a Greek mountain, that I returned to the finish with a sprig of olive branch in my cap, no injuries and a fast second half. And as I shouted "victory" on the finish line, I was very pleased I didn't follow history and then die!

See some pics.

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