Is the Athens Marathon really only just a few sleeps away? Yes.
Are we prepared? Erm, sort of.
This time last year, Matt and I headed down to Nice, in France, with our families to take part in the Riviera Marathon. 26.2 miles from Nice to Cannes along the Mediterranean coast in what proved to be a cracking event. From starting in grey, cloudy, slightly drizzly conditions, to finishing in bright sunshine and clear blue skies coming home 7 minutes under target in 3h 53m. Perfect!
Fast forward a year and we're on the verge of flying out to Greece to take part in one of the most iconic marathons in the world! After the trip to France, we felt it's great to mix a family holiday with a run, so it wasn't long before we booked a trip to Athens and wow it's come round quick!
So, on that note of being prepared - we've come at it from two different directions:
Matt has been constantly taking part in races for most of this year. He's one of those annoying runners that can take on a long run without much training and get over the finish line in one piece. In his own admission, he has had a DNF this year, but running over Dartmoor was a brutal run and no one can blame anyone for pulling out of that one. Even though this race is mainly uphill, it'll be nothing to some of the trail runs he's taken on in recent months.
Then for myself, the plan was a cracking 12 weeks of running in the build up consisting of upping my mileage, incorporating parkrun as much as possible to get some tempo runs in and then turn up in Greece and breeze round......hmm. It hasn't quite panned out that way! A few runs around 14 miles and a 19 miles squeezed in recently have been the long runs I could muster and fit in. Even the greatest of plans and intentions don't come to fruition due to having to factor in work, family life and self induced holidays - I did take my running kit, but it didn't always make it out of the suitcase!
So here we are. Just over a week at the time of typing before we head out and although the training has been varied and we might not feel 100% in the right condition, we're absolutely buzzing for the race!
This is where the marathon gets its name! It starts in the town of Marathon where legend has it that Pheidippides, a messenger in Ancient Greece, ran from the Battle of Marathon to Athens to announce the Greeks' victory over the Persians. It then follows the route he took, mainly uphill, into Athens and finishes in the iconic Panathinaiko Stadium.
With this marathon being point to point, most spectators don't venture too far from the finish, but what that means is the spectacular finish sees you run into a packed stadium- the same stadium that hosted the Olympic Marathon in 1896 and 2004!
What do we expect from the race?
To have fun and enjoy it! Too many times we've gone for a run or taken part in a race and spent the entire distance staring at your watch trying to hit a certain time. It's soooo much more enjoyable running without any pressure on time or position and that's what we're aiming for. There are around 55,000 runners running over the weekend in the 5k, 10k, Marathon and power walking. To be a part of such a large event in such an iconic location is a privilege and we can't wait.
Having just checked the forecast, it's looking likely to be 20C and sunny so hydration is going to be key to a healthy race. Luckily, the water stations are very frequent and the fuelling stations have a great selection of bananas, chocolate, gels, drinks and other energising snacks so we should be ok!
If anyone else reading this is heading out then be sure to let us know as we're going to try and arrange a few meet ups over the 4 or 5 days that we're there for. It's always great to meet other passionate runners that travel to events and this one is no different.
Craig & Matt
One thing we will pack are our runr Race Magnets! If you haven't checked them out, then have read of the benefits of using them over those dreaded safety pins in order to keep your race number in place: