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My impressions of the 4th Spetses Mini Marathon

It was early in the month of May 2014 when the phone rang and a friend of mine told me that it would be awesome to participate at the 4th Spetses Mini Marathon.

What is that I asked in amazement, as I had never heard of it before.

My friend who has never run nor swam over 100 metres  informed me that it is a sports event with 5, 10 and 25 km running races as well as swimming races of 3000 and 5000 m that take place every year in October on Spetses Island.

Ok, count me in for the 10 km race I said as I always aim high!

After making a thorough research on the web about the event and as I had never run over 5 km in my life (and only on a treadmill) I decided I had to train in order not to become the laughing stock! The event's slogan may be ‘2 win is 2 participate’ but some training never harmed anyone.

Three times per week I ran 2 - 3 km on the treadmill and every Sunday I would run round after round at a neighbourhood athletic track! When I completed my first training where I had run 5 km with all my efforts I set my first goal; I must reach the finishing point at the race. Month after month I noticed my physical condition was improving. The 5 km I had successfully reached in May became 6km in June, 7.5 km in July and 9 km in August, while training under the sunny greek skies and 36° C. I then realised for the very first time that finishing the race was possible. This is where my 2nd goal came in mind; finishing the race under 60 minutes!

In early September I started running out in the streets. At this point I really got worried… Every sidewalk seemed like a hurdle just like the ones the athletes must jump over at the 3000 stipl race and every hole resembled the same race's pond! I should have stuck to my first goal!

When the time arrived for the race I bought myself shoes, socks, shorts, t-shirt and wrist sweatbands. If I were to die, I were to do it in style! Saturday morning I was so anxious my stomach was tied in knots. Banana, juice, oatmeal for breakfast and spaghetti for lunch, nothing could hold me back from the afternoon race.

I stood at the race's starting point with the other runners having no guidance or any plan to get through with this but simply starting the race and taking it as it comes. For the first 2.5 km I simply followed the flow, thinking that the others must be more experienced than I am. Approaching the hilly parts of the course I saw the runners around me starting to breathe heavily and decided to keep the same pace. Reaching the 5th km we encountered a big hill and heard a fellow runner saying:

Oh my God!

I calmly responded ‘keep calm’.

He then said: Don’t you see the hill in front of us?

Keep calm and go on I said again filled with the confidence of an experienced runner!

Reaching the turning point and heading back towards the race’s finishing line I was certain I had it. Keeping a safe pace up to 7.5 km and flat out from there on I finished the race in 51 minutes. Being my first try ever in a running race I was bursting with happiness. I am still smiling now in front of my pc. It’s definitely a date for next year… only I won’t settle for less than a 25 km race! Starting my training this Sunday!

PS. I would like to congratulate the person in charge of the whole event Mrs. Marina Coutarelli who was the weekend’s heart and soul.

Article by Dimitris Kourouklis

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