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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 23 July 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 23 JULY 2016 19 PHOTO: IRINI ANADIOTI. organisation, the number of photographers and the quality of their photos (if only official race day photographers were half as good as these were) the constant discreet presence of the cyclists acting as guides, impromptu photographers, mounted escorts checking every crossing for traffic, company along the way and the overall support and good cheer were all peerless! Considering also the complexity involved in organising the same event, at the same time of the same day in four cities in Greece and one in Australia and pulling it off without a glitch, and thinking that the whole team are unpaid volunteers who also have fulltime jobs to do and families to look after, one can’t help but feel genuine admiration for the pure competence, dedication and commitment of everyone involved. Not wanting to (i.e. not being up to) run the full marathon distance, I joined the run at the half-way point, while people wishing to run with their dogs were encouraged to do so and join in the final station, 2.5km PHOTO: ELIAS JOHN. from the finish. I thought that was a nice touch, but didn't expect to see many taking that up. How wrong I was. I didn't count, but I'm sure the dog runners outnumbered the unaccompanied humans and by a good margin. Star among them was Tony, a dog who was found with gunshot wounds causing him to lose an eye and the use of his hind legs, but following a life-saving operation (in the course of which 80 balls of shot were removed), he now lives a full and fulfilling life thanks to a personalised (dogalised?) set of wheels and lots and lots of love. On the purely running front − it was a very pleasurable run along the Attica coastline, passing a number of marinas and public beaches, beautiful tree-lined promenades hanging over the rugged coastline and a number of sights representing the best and worst that Greece has to offer (e.g. the Naval Tradition park, hosting among others a replica of an ancient Athenian trireme and the armoured cruiser Averof, which saw triumphant service in the Balkan wars, almost single-handedly winning the Battle of Elli and Limnos in Dec 1912 & Jan 1913 against the amassed Ottoman fleet; followed a few miles later by the old airport, once thought of as a major investment and regeneration opportunity, but now hosting only old, decaying buildings and the abandoned tents of recently re-evacuated refugees). We had left the half-way point at 8.00 am sharp, and as the miles wore on, the sun rose in the sky and the heat began to make itself felt. I was happy that it seemed to affect me no more than everyone else, helping me feel a bit less like the unaccustomed ex-pat who has grown estranged to his native sun. Still, I certainly did feel the last couple of miles or so, when the combination of the everincreasing heat, a few strategically placed hills and not knowing exactly how far the finish was all conspired to dent my pace. Before too long I spied the welcome sight of the finish banner, and there was more cheering, encouragement and celebration by the organisers, volunteers, but also PHOTO: ELIAS JOHN. the group of my friends and family who were showing their unwavering support by sitting at Rumours' covered garden, sipping their iced coffees and fruit cocktails. One by one all the remaining runners (of the two- and four-legged varieties) made it past the line, and we joined everyone else already at the café for a good chat and bark. Dash not being in attendance (His Excellency chose France for his holiday this summer), I had to get my traditional post-workout lick-down from another doggie present, but I didn't go without. There was a selection of Penny Marathon technical and cotton T-shirts for sale at the finish (all proceeds going towards their charitable work), so when we return home the colours of Penny Marathon will make their first appearance on the Leicestershire trails and lanes after their sojourn under the oh-so-bright Athens sun. For more information on Penny Marathon, their activities, ways to support or just to pick up something nice from their e-shop, please visit www.pennymarathon.com PHOTO: ELIAS JOHN. PHOTO: IRINI ANADIOTI.
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30 July 2016