After our adventure on this islands, it was now time to head back to Athens for one of the main reasons we came to Greece in the first place; to re-trace the steps of Phiedeppides and run THE original Marathon to Athens marathon course, a week after running the Boston Marathon. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pheidippides) Per usual on the trip, we didn’t have a plan and just figured it out. When we arrived in Athens, we found a hostel to stay at with views of the acropolis.
From there we checked out the city, grabbed some dinner, had a few local beers, stocked up on food for breakfast the next day, and began to plot out the course.
The next morning we woke up and began to prepare. Nate and Mike grabbed a support car, while Will and Seth fueled up and got ready to tackle another 26.2 miles. After partaking in a lot (a LOT) of nightlife, which led to little sleep all week, and still being sore from the Boston Marathon a week prior, it seemed like a daunting task, especially not knowing what to expect from the course. The course is at heart an ‘official’ marathon course…but that said ‘marathon’ only happens once a year when the streets are closed. We however, were set to run the same course on our own. Based on traffic, timing, and gut, we decided it was best to start in Athens and run to Marathon. Why not? That being said, we ended up starting at the famous Athens Olympic stadium.
We began the run with memorized directions on how to get out of the city of Athens and head toward Marathon on the exact route. With Mike and Nate set to meet us in 8 miles in the support car to fuel us up on food and water, it was a good thing we didn’t get lost in the 80 degree heat! The first 5 miles of the course was all through Athens, dodging red lights, speeding scooters, Greek authorities in riot gear, and the ever so present ‘wild’ dogs.
As we got further and further out, it got more and more rural, and more and more authentic Greek! About 7 miles in, 100% of the signs were in Greek, and the people spoke 0% English which proved to be a (fun) challenge at a few stops for water. Also, for about 9 miles of the entire course, we were running on the shoulder of a highway…, which proved sketchy at best.
The further and further we got out of Athens, the more and more we began thinking about where we were, what we were doing, and WHY we were doing this. How cool is it to run the original course (in Greece!) for the namesake of the marathon when there are 1,000’s of marathons a year and millions of runners worldwide 100’s of year after Pheidippides ran this course? Pretty cool. But that’s not the point. We had found ourselves nearing the ‘end’ of an adventure, and with each step it became easier. Easier physically, and easier to mentally make sense of why the heck we were in Greece running a marathon on the highway, after a running a marathon in Boston a week ago in the first place. There are 6.84 Billion people in the world…but nobody has done what we have done. People will always be able to run faster & longer. It’s not even about running. Its not even about athletics. It’s about creating a vision with goals, and making it happen with nothing but passion and the drive within.
At the end of the day, you control your own destiny. Why be normal, when you can be Epic???
After finishing the marathon, and returning the car….we headed back to the hostel. As with everything on this trip…with no plan, we stumbled upon another perfect setting. We found ourselves at the highest point in Athens in the shadow of the Acropolis, watching the sunset with 100’s of others. As the sun went down, our spirits got even higher. We were there for a reason. We had accomplished our goals, and it was time to celebrate. What’s next?! Bring it on. #alwaysbeepic