**Please forgive the quality of some of the photos – they were taken using an old iPod**
Running a marathon has always seemed like an unattainable goal. That was until the day I decided to run a marathon in Canada. Five months of training, over four hours of running later, and in plenty of pain – I swore if I were ever to do another marathon it would be the original marathon: from Marathon to Athens. This is when I was thinking to myself “Yeah, that’ll never happen.” One year later, I am at the start line in Marathon, Greece.
Greece is certainly not a flat country. In fact, the Pindus range and the Dinaric Alps form most of the country’s rugged terrain. That being said, the marathon is obviously not run on a flat course. There are plenty of ups and downs and even more ups to keep you on your feet – or not. Regardless of the challenging course, it is certainly a one-of-a-kind running and travel experience.
My inner historian needed to run in Pheidippides’ footsteps – the Greek messenger from the battlefield in Marathon. I also wanted another reason to return to Greece (like one needs a reason?). The route does not bring you by any sites or ruins, but it does take a detour to run around the Tomb of the Athenians (those who fell in the Battle of Marathon).
We knew there were going to be hundreds (if not thousands) of runners and I wanted to stand out. Our plan: wear shirts bearing the Canadian flag.
This turned out to be the best idea for running this marathon. We had crowd support the entire way. We were singled out from all the runners by spectators yelling out “Bravo Canada!” After 30 km of running uphill, those cheers mean everything! The crowd would instantly become louder when the flag on our shirts became visible. One old woman even ran alongside us to hand us the two miniature Canada flags she had in her possession.
Running into the Panathenaic stadium to finish the marathon was beyond words. Surrounded by the marble structure and the crowd cheering you on is just out of this world. Unfortunately, the pain of the run and the elation of finishing has somewhat blacked out my memory of crossing the finish line. But I can say, the mental and physical breakdown, this marathon is one that each runner should complete in his or her lifetime.
Have you traveled to push beyond your limits? Share in the comments!