Sunday, May 20, 2012

Inaugural Athens (Greece) 13.1 represents solidarity...for runners

Had a great opportunity today and I jumped on it. Our group arrived in Athens Friday and I noted banners around town for the inaugural Acropolis Half Marathon. So this morning, I jogged from the hotel to the starting point and asked at registration if an uninformed American might get a late entry.

There was no hesitation, just full on customer service. I was asked to take a chair where three women walked me through the entry form, got my number and name into the computer, then pinned my number on my shirt! These promoters had every right to jack me two or three times the early fee for late entry, but instead asked for the standard and reasonable amount - 10 Euros. 

Met my new buddy Carlos from Peru before the event.  He too was in town for vacation and took a last minute entry.  Carlos has the good life, he's bopping around the globe doing the "Big Five" marathons...I believe they are Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York. We gathered at the start chute with combined races of 13.1 miles, 8000 meter and 3000 meter.  I had been hoping to do an easy jog at 10 minute miles and post a 2:10.

It's fun to watch the Euro scene, with the apparel, gear and attitudes. But on this day it was all about similarity and solidarity...about and through the sport of running.  No unrest here, just people from all walks of life being part of something good and right in the world.

The miles floated by. I was running smooth and the pace per mile was dropping.  It was a two loop course so after we made the first time around the ascents and declines were familiar.  We didn't actually run to the top of the Parthenon but did go out and back on the access road.  All good and this is my way of site seeing and experiencing history.  Guided tours are fine, but I sure enjoy my form of being a tourist - passing a few runners while touring through the Acropolis.

I was a bit off on my pacing calculation and grabbed a 1:49, placed well in the top half of the field. Not bad for old Tommy Mueller from Wausau, Wisconsin.  Pin a race number on me and it's afterburners on! Some guy plowed into my back in the finish chute...good grief bro there was plenty of time to pass me back after I crushed you 500 meters earlier!

There are good reasons to run and entering events as a world traveler is a special gem God has allowed in my life.

Check out the course below, thanks to Garmin GPS set on satellite mode. I ran 2.4 miles getting to and from the race from the hotel so my stats on the left are erroneous.

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