Today was the Faethon Olympus Marathon. 44km so technically an ultra with 3410 m of ascent on Mount Olympus.
Thankfully for me I appearred to be in the favour of Zeus and he heard my mental prayers... things didn't quite go according to the website...!
I was not feeling it this week having had a very busy week teaching a group of girls how to sail, windsurf, kayak and SUP. My body was craving sleep and I had real concerns about running in 35c + but I figured that wasn't a good enough reason to bail. So when the email arrived saying that you needed to register on Saturday I thought that was my great escape plan, I was working until late on Saturday and it was a 4 hour drive to Mount Olympus. Unfortunately the fates were not looking down on me when I emailed asking if I could register on Sunday morning - I got a prompt "no problem, be there at 5am".
Pesky fates... so at 12.30am I pulled up in a small village on the side of the mountain, pulled out a blanket and attempted 4 hours of disturbed sleep on the back seat of my car 🤷♀️ As you guys know race prep is not my strong point, I generally blag it with whatever food I can find in the overseas supermarket the day before. This time was no different 😁
I went to registration and much to my surprise (and feigned horror) the event had been dropped to a 30km or 27km (no one seemed to know) due to the hand of Zeus... thunderstorms and lightning!!! Inside I was thrilled... I could do this!!!
We started on the road before very quickly heading onto the mountain path... uphill... very uphill... lots of uphill... did I mention the uphill? Even in the stunning valley it was uphill... I was soon overtaken by mountain goats (aka the front runners of the half marathon) and then pretty much everyone else. It was still going uphill... the first 3 aid stations were shared by the marathon and half marathon and they were all UPHILL!!!
I got to the half marathon turnaround point (the change to the distance resulted in the marathon being an out and back rather than a circuit, but dont fear, it incorporated most of the uphill 😭) in a thunderstorm. Seriously where was the 35c+ I was worried about? I was just pleased that being a Brit I had running gloves in my bag (a permanent feature) to warm my frozen fingers up.
I passed that point and much to my delight saw a group of horses grazing in the valley with a rainbow rising up the valley behind them #anotherphotostop. I was cheered in to the half way point (being last I'm sure they were pleased that they would be able to pack up and get warm once I had gone), grabbed some food and headed back with the back runner (from the Netherlands chatting with me as I went). As I passed the meadow with the horses I had a few minutes of panic, thinking I was hallucinating as they seemed to have turned into cows, complete with cowbells. Now I know I hadn't slept well, I had been drenched by a thunderstorm and hadn't eaten much but surely I can tell what is a cow and what is a horse? Much to my relief I turned a bend and saw the horses grazing uphill... maybe I hadn't lost my marbles quiet yet...
The good thing about the UPHILL is what goes up must come down and this squirrel did. Going from last to make up several places as she bounced (ish) down the mountain enjoying the sunshine that had decided to join me.
30km later, with so much time to spare I know I could have done the other 15km in the time limit, I made it back to town to collect my medal and to shouts of "bravo" from the spectators. The back marker commented when I found him with his well earned beer later that I ran well to the finish - I didn't admit that that thought of a cold Sprite and a slice of cake is a great motivation so I generally manage a sprint finish 😂.
It was a lovely and well run event with a family feel to it in beautiful surroundings. Highly reccomended if you want to visit Zeus, Hera and friends (well, incestuous relations to be more precise!). Though perhaps borrow some shoes from Hermes and take a flask of nectar to convince Zeus to hold on to the thunderbolts until the end!!!
Only just read this Michelle. Fantastic write up. 😀