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  2012 Athens Classic Marathon, Greece

Trek and Run were supported during this event by Adidas, Asics, Maxifuel, Helly Hansen and Go Pro Cameras. This review is written in English and French. Please scroll down the page to read the French. Ce test est écrit en Anglais et en Français. Descendez en bas de page pour lire la partie en Français.

 

Part1, by Dave Wise

 

First of all, here is a short film I made whilst running this marathon...

 

 

I did it, I took part in the marathon!! Not any marathon, but THE marathon! Yes, THE marathon...

 

I don't mean any disrespect to the other marathon races around the world, they do a great job of raising money for charity and providing opportunities for people to experience the many benefits of long distance running. But for marathon runners who want to taste authenticity, then there is only one race that they've got to be a part of, and that's the Athens Classic Marathon.

 

Starting in the town of Marathon itself and following the original route laid out in 1896 for the first ever marathon race, the Athens Classic Marathon also follows the route run by the legendary Athenian soldier who, over 2,500 years ago, raced back from the Marathon battlefield, where the Athenian army had just won a great victory over the invading Persians, in order to let the people of Athens know that they were safe. Legend tells of him collapsing into the arms of citizens at the base of the Acropolis and gasping news of the victory before dying from exhaustion. The organisers of the first ever modern Olympic Games, in 1896, decided to build a running event around this legend, and hence our marathon race was born...

 

And according to sports historians, if we enjoy watching the modern Olympics, then we're lucky it was. Without TV to link up the many events that first Olympic games, which was held at various locations around Athens, had little coherence, and the public didn't warm to it at all. The Greek government went bankcrupt during them as well, adding to the general feeling of discontent. There was talk of this new festival of sport being a waste of money, and that there was no enthusiasm to have any more. It was going to be a one-off, this Olympic gathering...

 

But then, on the last day, the marathon event happened. There were only 12 competitors, all well trained athletes from around the world except for the Greek runner Spiros Louis, a last minute entry. Spiros wasn't an experienced runner like the others, just a simple farmer from the local region. But as the race progressed and the other runners dropped out because of the heat and the tough course, Spiros kept on going, chanting the Greek national anthem to himself, pushing harder and harder, until he found himself passing his final rival, an Australian, with 3kms to go. He never gave up the lead after that, and finished in first place (in a time of 2:58) to wild scenes in the great marble Panathenaic Stadium. 70,000 Greeks were cheering him on, the nation was united, 2 members of the Greek royal family even jumped down from their elevated seats and ran with Spiros over the finish line. The next days the newspapers were talking of unity, of how Spiros's great victory had healed a nation. From then on there was no doubt about it, the Olympics was a great event, and they were going to continue, for sure...  

 

That core value of Unity has remained with the race. Nowadays, a Marathon Flame is lit at the Tomb of the Athenians, on the plain of Marathon where the battle was fought over 2,500 years ago, every year before the Athens Classic Marathon. As well as Unity it symbolises Fraternity, Peace and Culture, and it's kept at Marathon all year, where organisers from other marathon events worldwide can come and light their own flame from it. It's a powerful ceremony, I witnessed it myself the day before this years race, with a short but emotional theatrical performance before the flame was handed to children, and from then to World Marathon record holder Patrick Macau, and former Marathon Olympic gold medalist Rosa Mota...

 

  

 

Ok, thats the history, now let me tell you about the race itself. The organisation and expo, which was held in central Athens for 3 days before the race, were excellent. It was so nice to have the race expo within easy walking distance of downtown (sometimes they're way out and that annoys me; the last thing I want to do the day before a race is to bother finding out about what busses can take me far out into the suburbs) and also it was the coolest pre race event I've been too so far; they had the Velvet Underground and early Clapton blaring out on loudspeaker as I approached the hall, and you can't do any better than that. The merchendise was cheap too, offical race t-shirts for between 5 and 10 Euro, branded fridge magnets and playng cards for 1 Euro, you get the picture, it was good value. I didn't buy any t-shirts though as I got a great one for free with my race entry (it was an Adidas training shirt, the design was nice, not too flashy, more like a cool, old style football shirt).

 

There were no problems with language either, everybody I met associated with the race spoke excellent English. I was actually in Athens for 12 days before the race, thought I'd do a bit of sightseeing, and I'm glad I had that amount of time there, there's so much to see and do. It also helped that the hotels I stayed in were really pleasant, and each a little different to the rest. The Art Gallery Hotel was really homely and decorated with classy art and furnniture, staying there was like visiting a very cultured relative. The Herodion was larger, more international, but still friendly and with exceptional views of the Acropolis from the rooms (it also had outdoor jacuzzis on the sun deck, which were great for relaxing the muscles after my training runs). And finally there was the Attalos Hotel, around the opposite side of the Acropolis to the other two and really convenient for the main tourist centre of Plaka. You can read my reviews of each hotel by clicking below...

Review of the Art Gallery Hotel

Review of the Herodion Hotel

Review of the Attalos Hotel

 

On race day busses were provided to transport all runners from central Athens to the town of Marathon. There were over 9,000 people taking part in the marathon event (there were also a 5km and a 10km event starting and finishing in Athens, which a further 13,000 people were involved in) and we were divided up into 7 waves, according to our anticipated finish time.

 

 

There was plenty of opportunity to mix with the elite runners, we all warmed up in the same area, and they were a friendly bunch, posing for photos and happy to chat. Benson, the guy on the left, is a pacer runner, Paul, the guy on the right, eventually came second in a time of 2:12.

 

 

 

Hopefully my film shows you what came next, over the next few hours of the race event. But I'll just talk about a few key points.

 

The first 10kms was flat, and quite green. We passed the Tomb of Marathon, it was here that the lead runners passed me again after they had looped around the tomb. To see these guys in action always inspires me. Look at them go, they're flying, their running technique is so refined, they literally float as much as they run, hardley any of them seem to be actually touching the ground in this photo!

 

 

After the circle of the tomb we joined the long road to Athens. The route got quite hilly from 10kms onwards, with one long slope between the 21 and 31 km mark. That really hurt, and I think because of this hill I lost 15 minutes on my usual finish time. The last 8kms or so were pretty much downhill all the way, which is nice, if you have any energy left to take advantage of it!! I'd been told before the race, by a runner who'd done it before, that it wasn't a very scenic run and that it has a great start and finish but not much in between. I'd have to disagree. There were lots of olive trees and mountains to see, and the crowds were great, just superb. They handed you olive branches, the traditional offering to a champion athlete, as you ran...

 

 

...they shouted 'Bravo' and clapped constantly, and regardless of their age, they high fived you at every opportunity.

 

 

 

 

 

Truely, the locals offered magnificent support, and it really helped me as I found the race very tough. More so than normal marathon road races. The constant ups and downs, especially that long 10km hill that just seemed to go on for ever, and the heat (and my inability to drink whilst running, as you can see in the photo!) really hurt, and it was the crowds cheers that made it easier for me to tell myself 'Ok, dig in, keep running, don't walk...' 

 

 

 

 

The photo above shows the long hill. Not a great gradient, just...long. The photo also shows the blue line that is painted on the road and marks the course all the way from start to finish. If you want to run the best line, you keep on the line! There were also distance markers almost every km.

 

And then, after the hill, it was downhill to Athens, and that wonderful stadium. What a place to finish a race (the 5 and 10km events also finished there earlier in the day too). Running down the approach road to the stadium the noise grew, it was near deafening, and then the crowds fell away from the route for a short while and the stadium opened up before us, and then I ran into it and the noise was just all around again, so much cheering, I don't know how many thousands of spectators were there, but the photos below show my view of it (and the video records the amazing atmosphere!). The finishing straight of any race is my favourite time. During the race my mind is often occupied, I'm thinking of my posture, my hydration, my food intake, or alternatively, I'm thinking of other, far away things, to take my mind off the pain. I play songs in my head, over and over, to motivate me. All these things crowd my mind. But on that finish straight my mind is clear, I'm totally living in the present, soaking up the positive feeling that is all around me, devouring the crowd's cheers and good wishes. I've run over 15 of these finish straights this year and this one was by far the favourite. The stadium was superb, the crowds so enthusiastic and loud, the sun was shining and of course, this was Athens, the home of the marathon.

 

 

 

 

I was on a massive high after the finish line. We collected our medals (nicely designed, in the shape of the stadium itself) and were allowed to sit in the stands around the other side of the stadium from the home straight for as long as we wanted, so we could continue to enjoy the atmosphere as the other runners finished. I was a bit hyper, to say the least. Here were were, looking out at this great stadium, in the midst of all this noise, with the Acropolis visible above the fluttering Olympic and Greek flags, soaking up the sun (in November too!!!), what a unique running experience...

 

 

 

 

Our baggage had been transported back for us by van and was waiting directly outside the stadium. You just showed your bib number and your bag was brought for you. Then you could pick up some free juice, water, isotonic drink and fruit to get some energy back in your legs. One last thing to mention...in the sponsors village, the 'Wind' stand had this very nice freebie. You stood in the middle of a circle of mobile phones, and on count of three you made your victory pose whilst they all took a photo at the same time. Then, about 6 hours later, 'Wind' emailed you a short video featuring all the photos. Here is a photo of the stand, and then follows the video they sent me of me doing my pose. Pretty good for a freebie, huh?

 

 

 

 

 

If you'd like to take part in the Athens Classic Marathon next year, please visit their website

http://www.athensclassicmarathon.org

 

 

Trek and Run would like to thank;

Adidas

www.adidas.co.uk

Asics

www.asics.co.uk

Helly Hansen

www.hellyhansen.com

Maxifuel

www.maxifuel.com

&

Go-Pro HD Cameras

www.gopro.com

 

Part 2, by Jean-Marc Dalle

Once upon a time, around 2500 years ago, a Greek soldier ran from the city of Marathon to Athens to announce the victory against Persia. He brought the news of victory and with the word “Nikomen” (We have won), collapsed and died. Thus the myth of Marathon was then born. Around 2500 years later, Dave and I decided to run the 30th edition of Athens Classic Marathon, from Marathon to Athens (to save Greece from the Economic Crisis?).

 

I arrived 2 days before the marathon, and so was able to explore this beautiful city. So many archeological sites, different districts and how can I forget to mention the food? … ah … I already miss the Pita bread and souvlakis (and local beers ;) … even though I know that this kind of food isn’t perhaps the best to have while preparing for a Marathon.

 

While collecting the bib numbers on Friday, I had quite a nice surprise, they gave us:

* A transport pass in the city (and till the airport) free for 5 days (from 8th to 12th)

* There was a nice crowd, and smiling people

* I met Patrick Makau (the Kenyan runner who broke the World record of Marathon), and even took a picture with him.

* Got a nice Tee-shirt and a useful running belt where you can put your keys, gels etc..

* Useful Marathon information Guide.

 

The day before the Race (Saturday), we went to the brilliant Opening Ceremony that takes place at The Tomb of the Battle of Marathon (a historical site). The Tomb of the Battle of Marathon is a burial mound for the 192 Athenians soldiers who died during this war. More information of the battle of Marathon: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Marathon

 

Even though the weather was not great (it was raining), it was inspiring to hear the different speeches, when the torch was being carried to the starting point. If you are going to run Athens Classic Marathon in future, this is something you cannot miss.

 

On Sunday, a bus took us (from downtown Athens) to Marathon, the journey takes around 40mn. As we discovered the day before, the track is on a National Road, which is anything other than flat (except the first 12km). The track was the same for Olympic Games of 2004 (and almost the same for the Olympic Games of 1896).

 

My running gear was:

* Shoes : On – Cloud Surfers http://trekandrun.com/reviews/onrunning/cloudsurfer.html

* Boosters : BV Sport Boosters http://trekandrun.com/reviews/bvsportbooster/review.html

When we reached the arrival point (around 7.45am), the temperature was a bit cold, the organizers were giving out survival blankets to runners to prevent them from catching colds before the start (which is a pretty good idea). A lot of runners where warming up around the stadium, we saw Kenyan runners taking pictures with so many people, which was really nice of them (and so we took some pictures with them as well).

 

 

There were different blocks to start the race, depending on the estimated timing, I was on a block 4 (when I registered, my PB for a Marathon was over 4h), and Dave was on the block 2. While waiting at the block, they played a remix of a famous Greek song (from Zorba the Greek), I loved it.

 

If the temperature were quite cold in the shade, in the sun, it was warm … I was a bit worried about my body managing this sudden temperature increase in comparison to France …

The departure happened on time: 9am sharp … Elite runners first of course, then the different blocks.

I was feeling good, even though I knew it would be a long and difficult race. You can sum up the track in 3 parts:

* First 12km flat

* From 12 to 32km : Up hill

* From 32km to the Arrival : Down hill

 

I tried not to start too fast at the beginning … even though I don’t like running slowly … Dave was filming for a bit, so I thought he would eventually increase his speed to reach my level (I didn’t start fast as I mentioned, I was running at around 12km/h.

 

Even though I forced myself, after a couple of km, without realizing it, the pace increased … I gave up trying to limit my pace … and was running between 13.5 to 14km/h … I did the same in Budapest, and it worked well, and I knew I would slow down while going uphill after the 12th km anyway.

 

I was really surprise at the number of adults and children along the road to cheer us on… So many “Bravos”. What I really liked was that most of the kids were giving out small Olive branches to runners. The target was to carry it to the finish line and keep it … As a Greek person told me “you are a Marathon man; you should have a branch of the Olive tree”. I stuck it in the running Belt that was in the goodie bag.

 

Back to the race, after the 4th kilometer, we turned left to pass in front of the Tomb of the Battle of Marathon (where the Opening Ceremony happened the day before). It was like a big circle around the place. We passed the 5th kilometer (22mn on my side), I was feeling good … seeing this mythic place gave me a lot of stamina, this is where everything started I thought. Few hundred meters after the 5th km, we came to the first Water Station.

 

We then came back to the main road, and I started feeling hot … there were very few clouds in the sky, and the day had begun to get hotter.

I was also surprised at the number of Indians (or Pakistanis) along the street …. I tried to say a few sentences in Hindi which worked very well; they were really surprised and replied in Hindi.

 

I reached the 10th km in 44mn, still feeling great, I drank some water at the Water station. I then overtook a guy who was wearing an Athenian soldier’s costume with a shield and a sword … Seriously I felt bad for him, running a marathon is long and tough, but with a costume it is much more difficult. The guy was being cheered on by the people along the road like anything, you can’t imagine. I was almost jealous … The cowl does not make the monk after all.

 

At the 20th km water station, some gels were provided; I force myself to take one even though I didn’t feel like I needed it. It was by the way a nice intention …. Still 12km to go till the end of the slope … a long time.

 

It is not like the slope was that difficult … Nothing like Marseille – Cassis or Paris –Versailles.

 

I passed the Half Marathon lane in 1h37 … 3mn faster than Budapest, even though the conditions were more difficult and warmer. At the start of the 23rd km, I started feeling unwell … Pain in the tummy, like a stomach upset, I thought to myself, “I miss having a friend around”. I did my best and I was hoping to find some toilets at the 25km water station. Fortunately there were some… But I didn’t feel better. I met Dave, but he was running too fast (which was still slow, maybe 11km/h) for me … I told him to go on as I was feeling quite unwell … I started walking for a bit. Race Marshals and spectators were cheering us and it gave me some energy, even though I alternated between running and walking … The last 2km of the slope were the most difficult (in term of ascent), or at least it is what I felt … Anyway I was there, and I had to finish … Coast to coast.

 

Seriously, from 21st km to 31st. A lot of people were walking … I even over-took some people (while walking) … I drank some coke at the 30th km water station and the slope ended after the 31th kilometer. I started running steadily again. I don’t know if the Coke helped, but I felt better, which is the most important thing. I felt that the number of the spectators after reaching the end of the slope were much more. Unfortunately after a couple of kilometers, I started getting spasms in my thighs … And I had to walk.

 

Before the race I was thinking about the last 12km, and I thought I would be able to run them fast, as it was a descent … but to do it, you still need to have your legs in shape for the last 11km …. I did not. One very important thing to do during this event is to manage the difficulty by pacing yourself … And without any doubt, I didn’t do it well. Kilometers after kilometers, I kept going, even though I was unwell, with just one focus: the finish …. I was stopping at all the Water Stations. Also a lot people (mostly firemen) had bombs with Frozen gas … I stopped in front of all of them … these bombs really worked, that was the first time I was using such things and my thighs were very appreciative.

 

35th kilometers in 3h05 ...I drank more coke and Energy drinks. Some many people were saying “Bravo, Bravo!” You can’t give up even if you feel really ill with such people cheering you on … This was one of the thing that I really appreciated, as I have never seen enthusiasm from the crowd at this level for a running event before.

 

Even with the Economic Crisis, Greek people were very welcoming … They are indeed very nice people. I felt really hot, but each and every step was taking me closer to the City Center, and we felt it … I began to see things like Metro Stations, more people along the streets, everything was more animated etc … 39th kilometers in 3h28 … When I saw my watch, I told myself “you are not doing that bad … You should be able to finish in less than 3h45”. People starting clapping their hands constantly … 40th kilometer, 41th … “Almost at the finish” I told myself … People were everywhere, I was unwell, but I refused to even think about walking …. Meter by meter I kept going … and then … I saw this magnificent stone stadium … Just a couple hundred meters before the finish.

 

There were many people along the large avenue before the Stadium, a lot of noise, the crowd cheering and shouting their wishes ... I started feeling like a hero, a football star, I don’t know … I felt like someone who did something amazing, or really difficult and was being recognized for it … As if by running this Marathon I somehow became someone to the people.

 

Entering the Stadium was an experience in itself … I was dead tired, but so smily, turning my head from left to right … Seeing the finish lane come closer and closer … I was over my target of 3h45mn already… But it didn’t matter.

 

I was enjoying this final stretch where I could have stayed forever … I crossed the finish line in 3h46 and 59 seconds … Timing was not great, but so what? I lived through a great experience … I became a real Marathon runner, from the city of Marathon to Athens.

 

I met Dave a few meters after the finish, he had finished just one minute before me … We spent time in this magnificent Stadium, enjoying being there as much as we could, with a pleasant view of the Acropolis.

 

 

As for the Athenian soldier who ran from Marathon to Athens … We still didn’t have his timing … maybe he did it in 6 or 7 hours, who knows?

 

What I like the most about this Marathon event?

* The spectators who were incredible, the best cheering squad I have ever seen for any running event.

* The Olive Branch

* The Arrival Stadium

 

Even if the temperature was much warmer than Paris for the season, I really enjoyed the run. At the Exit of the Stadium, we got a bag with Water, Energy drinks and some food. After exiting the Stadium we got our bag (which has been brought from Marathon to Athens) without any problem, we just had to show our bib numbers.

 

A Mythic and Ancient Race ... This is how to best sum it up ;) … Any Marathon runner should do it at least once … If you want to attend this great event next year: http://www.athensclassicmarathon.gr/

 

You will love it, and on the other side, it will help the Greek Economy, these braves and kind people need our help.

 

Now, Jean-Marc's report in French

 

Il était une fois, il y a environ 2500 ans, un soldat Grec couru de la ville de Marathon à Athènes pour annoncer la victoire contre Perse.

Il ramena l’information via le mot “Nikomen” (nous avons gagné), s’évanoui et mourût. Le Mythe du Marathon était né.

Environ 2500 ans plus tard, Dave et moi même avons décidé de courir la 30ème édition du Marathon d’Athènes (Athens Classic Marathon), de Marathon à Athènes (pour sauver la Grèce de la crise économique ?).

Je suis arrivé 2 jours avec le Marathon, et j’ai pu explorer cette magnifique ville. Tellement de site archéologiques, de quartier différent, et comment pourrais-je oublier la nourriture ? …. Ah …  Le pain Pita et les Souvlakis (ainsi que la bière locale ;) Même si je sais que ce type de nourriture n’est pas forcement la plus adaptée pour préparer un Marathon).

 En récupérant le dossard le vendredi, j’ai eu quelques surprises, on nous a donné :

-          Une carte de transport (pour la ville et jusqu’à l’aéroport) pour 5 jours (du 8 au 12 novembre).

-          Une foule sympa et beaucoup de gens souriants.

-          J’ai rencontré Patrick Makau (le Kenyan qui a battu record du monde sur Marathon), j’ai même pris une photo avec lui.

-          A Tee-shirt sympa avec une ceinture de course très utile pour mettre les clés, gels, etc. …

-          Un guide d’information sur Marathon. 

La veille de la course (samedi), nous sommes allés à la cérémonie d’ouverture qui a eu lieu sur la tombe de la bataille de Marathon (site historique donc).

La tombe de Marathon est en fait un monticule de terre ou 192 soldats Athéniens ont été enterrés pendant cette guerre.

Plus d’informations sur la bataille de Marathon : http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bataille_de_Marathon

Même si la météo n’était pas top (il pleuvait), les différents discours, amener la flamme au point de départ du Marathon ont été une source d’inspiration. Si vous participez au Marathon d’Athènes un jour, c’est quelque chose que vous ne pouvez manquer.

 Le dimanche, nous avons pris un bus (du centre ville d’Athènes à Marathon), le trajet dure environ 40mn.

Même si nous l’avions découvert la veille, le parcours est sur une route nationale, qui est tout sauf plate (sauf pour les 12 premiers kilomètres). C’est d’ailleurs le même parcours que pour les jeux olympiques de 2004 (et quasiment le même que ceux de 1896).

Mes armes de courses étaient :

-          Chaussures : On – Cloud Surfers http://trekandrun.com/reviews/onrunning/cloudsurfer.html

-          Boosters : BV Sport Boosters http://trekandrun.com/reviews/bvsportbooster/review.html

Quand nous avons rejoint le point de départ (vers 7h45), la température était un peu froide, es organisateurs avec prévu une couverture de survie pour les coureurs, et leurs éviter ainsi de prendre froid avant le départ (ce qui était une super idée)

Beaucoup de coureurs s’échauffaient autours du Stade, nous avons vu des coureurs Kenyans pris en photo avec tellement de gens, ce qui était très sympa de leurs parts (et nous avons fait de même)

Il y avait plusieurs zones de départ de course, qui dépendaient des objectifs de temps. J’étais dans le 4ème sas (lors de l’inscription, mon meilleur temps sur Marathon était au dessus de 4h), Dave lui était dans le second sas.

En attendant dans le Sas, un remix d’une fameuse chanson Grecque (de Zorba le Grec) est passé … Je l’ai adoré.

Même si la température était froide à l’ombre, au soleil, il faisait déjà … J’étais quelque peu inquiet sur le comportement de mon corps vis à vis de cette soudaine hausse des températures(en comparaison de la France) …

Le départ eu lieu parfaitement à l’heure : 9h … Les coureurs Elites bien sur, suivi des autres blocs.

Je me sentais bien, même si je savais au fond de moi que la course allait être dure. On peut la résumer en 3 parties :

-          12 premiers kms : Plat

-          Du 12 au 32ème : Ca monte

-          Du 32km à l’arrivée : Ca descend sur Athènes

J’ai essayé de ne pas partir trop vite au début … Même si je n’aime pas courir trop lentement …

Dave s’arrêta pour filmer, j’ai pensé qu’il augmenterait un peu sa vitesse pour me rejoindre (comme mentionné plus haut, je n’étais pas parti vite, environ 12km/h).

Même en me forçant, après 2km, je réalisai que ma vitesse avait augmentée … J’abandonnai l’idée de limiter ma vitesse … J’étais alors sur un rythme 13.5 à 14 km/heure … J’ai fait de même à Budapest, et ca avait pas trop mal marché, et je savais que j’aurai à ralentir lorsqu’on allait commencer à monter, après le 12ème.

J’ai vraiment été surprise par le nombre d’adultes et d’enfants le long de la route pour nous encourager … Tellement de “Bravos”. Ce que j’ai le plus apprécié  était que la plupart des enfants donnaient de petites branches d’oliviers aux coureurs. L’objectif étant de l’amener jusqu’à la ligne d’arrivée. Comme me l’a dit un Grec la veille de la course, “Tu es Marathonien, tu dois avoir une branche d’olivier”.

Je l’ai coincé dans la ceinture qu’on nous a offert lors de la remise des dossards.

 Retour sur la course, après le 4ème km, nous avons tourné  sur la gauche, pour passer devant la tombe de la bataille de Marathon (où c’est passé la cérémonie d’ouverture). C’était comme un énorme rond-point autours de cette place.

Nous avons passé le 5ème kilomètre (22mn de mon coté), je me sentais bien … Avoir vu cette place mythique m’a donné beaucoup d’énergie et de motivation, c’est la que tout a commence me suis-je dis intérieurement.

Quelques centaines de mètres après le 5ème, nous arrivâmes au premier ravitaillement.

Nous avons alors rejoint la route principale, et je commençais à sentir la chaleur … Peu de nuage dans le ciel, et la journée commençait à être plus chaude.

J’ai également été surprise par le nombre d’indiens (ou pakistanais) le long de la route … J’ai essayé quelques phrases en Hindi qui ont très bien fonctionné; ils ont été assez surprise et m’ont répondu en Hindi.

J’ai rejoint le 10ème en 44mn, me sentant toujours bien, j’ai bu un peu d’eau, et double un gars qui portrait un costume de soldat Athénien avec une épée et un bouclier.

 Sérieusement, je me suis senti mal pour lui, courir un Marathon est long et difficile, mais avec un costume, c’est encore pire. Le gars était énormément encouragé par les spectateurs, vous ne pouvez imaginer. J’en étais presque jaloux… L’habit ne fait pas le moine après tout.

Au ravitaillement du 20ème kilometer, il y avait des gels; je me suis force a en prendre un meme si je n’en ressentais pas le besoin … C’était une bonne initiative vu qu’il restait encore 12km avant la fin de la montée … Un bon moment …

La côte en elle même n’était pas si difficile … Rien compare à celle d’un Marseille – Cassis ou d’un Paris – Versailles, en revanche, elle était bien plus longue.

J’ai passé la ligne de la mi-course en 1h37 … 3mn plus rapide que Budapest, même si les conditions étaient plus difficiles et plus chaudes.

Au début du 23ème kilometers, et j’ai commencé à me sentir moins bien … douleur dans le ventre, je pensais alors qu’il me manquait d’avoir un ami a coté pour passer ce mauvais moment. J’ai fait de mon mieux pour garder un rythme correct, et j’esperais trouver des toilettes au ravitaillement des 25ème km.

Heureusement il y en avait, cependant, je ne me suis pas senti mieux … J’ai alors croisé Dave, mais il courais trop rapidement pour moi (il n’était pourtant pas super rapide, peut-être 11km/h) … Je lui ai dis d’y aller, que je n’étais pas bien … J’ai meme commencé à marcher un peuaprès cela. Les volontaires et les spectateurs m’encourageaient alors, ils me donnaient de l’énergie et de la motivation, même si j’alternais course et marche…

Les 2 derniers kilomètres, la côte était alors plus raide, ou c’est du moins, ce que j’ai pu ressentir ... De toute façon, j’étais la, et je devais finir ...A tout prix… Une côte du 21ème au 31ème, c’est pour le moins sérieux.

Beaucoup de gens marchaient alors, j’en doublais d’ailleurs quelques uns (en marchant) …

J’ai bu du coca au ravitaillement du 30ème, et après le 31ème, ce fut la fin de cette côte. J’ai recommencé à courir pour de bon. Je ne sais pas si le coca m’a aidé, mais je me suis senti mieux, ce qui était le plus important.

J’ai eu l’impression que le nombre de spectateurs avaient largement augmentée après la fin de la côte.

Malheureusement, après quelques kilomètres, j’ai commencé à avoir des spasmes dans les cuisses, et j’ai eu besoin de marcher.

 Avant la course je pensais aux 12 derniers kilomètres en me disant que je pourrais les courir assez rapidement vu qu’ils étaient en descentes … Mais pour faire cela il faut avoir les jambes pour… et ca n’était pas le cas.

Un élément clé de cette course est de bien gérer la difficulté en adaptant son rythme aux conditions … Chose que j’ai très mal fait sans aucun doute.

 Kilomètres après kilomètres, Je continuais, même en étant pas bien, avec un seul objectif : l’arrivée … Je m’arrêtais à tous les ravitaillements. Quelques personnes (principalement des pompiers) avaient des bombes avec du gaz froid … Je profitais de leurs services sans manqué de les solliciter. Ces bombes fonctionnent réellement, c’était la première fois que j’en utilisais, et mes cuisses ont grandement appréciés leurs effets

 35ème kilomètre en 3h05 ... J’ai bu du coca, et des boissons énergétiques. Tellement de gens nous criaient “Bravo, Bravo!”. On ne peut abandonner même si on en ressent l’envie avec de telles personnes pour vous encourager…  C’est d’ailleurs une des choses que j’ai beaucoup apprécié pendant cette course, je n’ai jamais vu un public aussi enthousiaste pendant une course.

 Malgré la crise économique, les grecques nous ont formidablement accueilli … Ce sont des gens vraiment sympathiques et courageux.

J’avais vraiment chaud, mais chaque pas me rapprochait du centre ville, et je pouvais le voir … J’ai commencé à voir des stations de métro, plus de gens dans les rues, plus d’animations, ect …

39ème kilometre en 3h28 … En regardant ma montre, je me suis dis que je n’étais pas trop mal et que je pouvais finir en moins de 3h45

Les gens frappaient dans leurs mains constament … 40ème kilometre, 41ème … “Quasiment la fin” me suis-je dis … Des gens partout, je n’étais pas bien, mais on ne peut ne serait-ce que penser à marcher … Mètres par mètres j’avançais  … E la …  J’ai vu ce sublime stade en Pierre … Plus que quelques centaines de mètres avant la ligne d’arrivée.

Il y avait tellement de gens le long de cette large avenue avant le stade, tellement de bruit, la foule nous encourageaient … Je commençais à me sentir comme un héro, un joueur de foot, ou je ne sais pas ... Comme quelqu’un qui aurait fait quelque chose d’incroyable, et qui serait reconnu pour cela …  Comme si avoir couru ce Marathon aurait permis de devenir quelqu’un pour ces gens.

Entrer dans le stade était une expérience a part entière … J’étais mort, mais souriant, tournant la tête de gauche a droite ... Regardant la ligne d’arrivée de plus en plus proche … J’étais au-delà de mon objectif de 3h45 … Mais cela n’avait plus d’importance.

J’appréciais les derniers mètres, j’aurais pu y rester pour toujours … Je passais la ligne en 3h46 et 59 secondes … Le temps était loin d’être fantastique, et alors … J’ai vécu une superbe expérience … Je suis devenu un vrai Marathonien, de la ville de Marathon à Athènes.

J’ai retrouvé Dave quelques mètres après l’arrivée, il avait juste terminé une minute avant… Nous avons passé un peu de temps dans ce sublime Stade, appréciant d’être la autant que possible, avec une belle vue sur l’Acropole.

 Quand au soldat qui a couru d’Athènes a Marathon … On ne connait toujours pas son temps, peut-être qu’il a mis 6 ou 7 heures, qui sait ?

Ce que j’ai aimé le plus sur ce Marathon ?

-          Les spectateurs qui ont été incroyables, les meilleurs que j’ai pu voir (et de loin) lors d’une course.

-          La branche d’Olivier

-          L’arrivée dans le stade

Même si les températures étaient beaucoup plus chaudes qu’à Paris pour la saison, j’ai vraiment beaucoup apprécié cette course.

A la sortie du Stade, nous avons eu sac avec de l’eau, des boissons énergétiques, et un peu de nourritures.

Pour récupérer nos sacs (qui avaient été amené de Marathon à Athènes) à la sortie du Stade, il suffisait de montrer son dossard.

 Une course mythique et ancienne … c’est comme cela qu’on peut la décrire … Tout coureur de Marathon devrait la faire au moins une fois.

Si vous voulez y participer l’année prochaine : http://www.athensclassicmarathon.gr/

Vous l’adorerez, et d’un autre coté, vous aiderez l’économie Grecque, ces braves gens ont besoin de notre aide.