The Original Marathon in Athens Greece, the mother of all marathons and one of my ultimate bucket list ticks! With the health industry today running, especially long distance running, is becoming more and more popular. I’m sure a lot of people reading this blog may have participated in some kind of run at some point whether it was a 1km fun run or even perhaps an ultramarathon. But have you ever wondered why we call the 42.2km run a marathon? Well here’s a little bit of a fun fact for you…
The marathon originates from ancient Greece when during the 5th century BC Greece was at war with Persia. After a particularly fierce battle a messenger named Pheidippides ran from the battleground of Marathon to the centre of Athens to relay a message of victory over the Persian army, promptly after which he dropped dead. Fast forward a couple millennia and that same path is now home to the original marathon which was run again as a competition in the 1896 Olympic Games.
My experience running the Athens Original Marathon
Typically most marathon training plans span 4-6 months, mine however was just four weeks. Becoming distracted by travel plans I didn’t leave myself a large amount of time to train as my decision to complete the marathon was a bit last minute. So after 2 months of straight travel I returned back to London and hit out my first 15km run for quite a long time…
28 days til race. My legs felt better than I had expected and I was fairly happy with my time considering my cardio was at a particularly low point.
26 days til race. The next run two days later proved to be more difficult as I struggled a bit punching out 10kms, my legs at this point were getting quite tired. Also during the second run of my training program I developed a very large blister on the bridge of my foot and not wanting to aggravate it further, which could potentially put me out of action for longer, I begrudgingly waited a week and watched it slowly heal.
19 days til race. My next run was a short 5km however not long into the run I felt a burning in my foot…the blister had returned with a vengeance. This side lined me for another 10 days!
9 days til race. Now only just over a week out my blister had finally healed and I was able to push through another 10km.
Total training distance logged: 40km
Marathon distance: 42.2km
This was no longer about aiming for a time but aiming to even finish the race. I had resigned to the fact that this would not be easy but I was not going back out. So we packed our bags and left London for Athens.
4am the day of the big race. I packed my things into my little kit bag walked to the center of Athens catching one of the many transport buses to the starting line. Here we waited for the start with quite a few nervous stretches, a few of sips of water (didn’t want to drink too much or I feared I’d have to do a nervous wee) and a lot of anxious looks between competitors.
The start gun sounded, reverberating through the crowd, we were off! The lead pack (basically people who have a PB of under 2:30hrs) tore away as the rest of the field (much slower people like myself) moved towards the startline. We eventually shuffled our way across the line where the masses of people began to separate and split up, allowing more room over the course.
10km melted away as I maintained a very steady 6min/km pace. We passed small towns and villages who played music and loudly cheered on the runners. The atmosphere was electric, it had such an excited vibe.
15km, I was feeling good. I kept my fluids up by sipping on small amounts of Gatorade at each aid station.
20km, the halfway mark. I looked down at my watch and was cruising at 6min/km pace. Everything was going well until… the hill.
Here placed in front of the runners was a 15km stretch of uphill running. The gradient changed from a few degrees to 15 in places and so the struggle began. I could feel the lactic acid starting to build in my quads, my calves slowly tightened and suddenly breathing started to be very arduous.
25km, I had not strayed from my pace but the constant uphill started to wear me down and eventually I had to break my run and walk. What followed for the next 10km was a mixture of mostly running with walking thrown in. As the increasing incline continued my stretches of walking increased. Finally and mercifully however the highest point of the run was passed and the gentle rolling descent into the middle of Athens began.
35km… I was in a real battle between wanting to curl up on the ground and never move again and an urge to finish the race. Water began to taste disgusting and the orange Gatorade I had been drinking now wanted to exit my body as it churned away with every stride. I pushed on with my mix of walking and running. Faintly in the distance I could hear the noise of a crowd as I edged closer to the finish line.
I turned the final corner and suddenly the Olympic stadium came into view. I could now hear the music reverberate through large speakers positioned in and around the stadium. People yelled and cheered encouragement to the runners as we ran past. Eventually I crossed the finish line and was overcome with a great sense of pride.
I had done it. With almost zero training and without much of a plan I had managed to complete a marathon. My time came in at 4:53:30 which I was very happy with considering.
The only thing left to do was to try and walk back to our apartment without collapsing in the street…it proved to be more difficult than I had thought. Eventually we made it back and I was able to crawl into my bed and not move for the next day. Next time I think I’ll train a bit more.
Running is a simple sport but having the correct footwear, clothing and nutrition can go a long way.
These shoes combine the best of Brooks running technology with a decent amount of arch support. I knew with the amount of hills in the marathon and with my running gait, that I would require a shoe with a high level of over pronation support while still being lite enough to not weigh me down. These fit the bill and then some. Springy responsive runners with enough cushioning to sooth on those long downhill sections.
Bridgedale Men’s Cool Fusion Run Speed Trail Socks
I knew with my foot problems in the lead up to the run that I would need a slightly thicker than normal sock to combat my blister prone areas. These socks delivered, they are incredibly soft and cushioned while still managing to not overheat the feet. Fantastic socks to run in.