The flight to Athens and a bit of a retrospective

Normally travelling to a race you may bump in to a couple of people you know. On this flight to Athens it seems half the running community I know on Twitter is on board. Really we should all be wearing name tags with our names and @ handles. A trip to the loo becomes a sequence of hi’s and smiles of acknowledgement.

This is a race I have been looking forward to for a long time. The focus of the year was the Summer and Autumn ultra runs but this was always going to be my reward race and it was the intention to sign off the year with it. As it happens a couple of races have crept into the calendar after this, one (the Dowton half) which I intend to have a good go at, the other a muddy “fun” run I have been dragooned into!

Still, it’s the last marathon so in a way it marks the end of a year of long races. I’m really pleased that after the bad experience I had at Manchester (not that race’s fault but the stars misaligned badly) every other thing I have done I look back in fondness at the memory of it. Even the hellish inclines of RTTT fade in the memory and you just remember the good stuff.

I had hopes of a sub 4 here but unfortunately illness during October has put paid to that so I shall not force the pace. Mind you neither will I deliberately tire myself out the day before like I did in Berlin.

Speaking of which, the crew assembling here for this race has all the makings of a riotous post run party. No supersized beers, but plate smashing, bazouki music and a bit of Greek dancing would appear to be on the agenda.

This is a run that may see some sadness along the way.

I last visited Athens around 13 years ago with Bea (pregnant then with Sasha) and my son Michael. We had a lovely time here and it was at the end of a great holiday, some time in Corinth, my sister-in-law’s wedding on Aegina and then 3 nights in a 5 star Athens hotel. Great memories.

As always when I go back to somewhere where me and Bea had good times I feel both happy, in a wistful sense, and deeply sad at the same time.

We also had to have our dog Rosie, who was only 3 and a half, put down last weekend. Rosie was my wife’s gift to Sasha before she died so she could have something to cuddle and comfort her. Sadly Rosie fell ill the week before last, very suddenly, and nothing could be done (kidney failure). She didn’t suffer long and that’s good. We miss her and losing her brought back raw waves of grief once more.

Couple the above circumstances with a marathon and tears are inevitable at some stage, but that’s not a bad thing.

I know though that there will be more fun than sadness and that will be down to the truly great bunch of runners assembling in this ancient City to pay tribute to Phidippedes and trace a route from the place that lent it’s name to this distance to Athens and the old Olympic stadium.

Let the games begin!


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