So we know our intrepid Belle Vue Racers love a challenge and so it was onto Athens to test themselves against the mighty Olympians of Greece!
With race day on the horizon, the excitement was building: Daniel (our adopted BVR) had arrived from his epic ‘planes, trains and automobiles’ world adventure, Jason had been playing down his chances but knew his bagful of jelly beans would see him through, Gill was off doing her warm up (by that I mean was walking around the track after getting lost coming back from the toilet!) and Adam had arrived looking like he had raided a number of washing lines on the way to the start!
The gun fired (along with the cries of an over-emotional Greek PA announcer) and off we went. Dan, Simon (running under his Greek name of ‘Erkan’), Jason and Adam set off as the front runners whilst Tony and Gill knew pace was the key; Carmel had decided to stick with the 10k ‘fun run’ as she felt couldn’t manage more than an hour without free Wi-Fi; she did however wait for us on the left for our return. A wave of noise greeted us at every turn, so loud it would drown out the jangle of a bag of beans, albeit it turns out Jason’s iPhone was the thing drowning out that particular sound!
The hills were unrelenting, continuous for miles and the sun was blazing … honestly, it was hotter than the look Adam was sporting in his tight 60’s footballer style skimpy shorts! Onward we pounded though and, lifted by the crowds, support and cries of ‘Bravo! Bravo!’, we headed toward the finish line in the Patheniakon Stadium, into what can only be described as one of the most iconic and emotional finishes of a race I have seen, people overcome with emotion and a true respect for what had been achieved. Our BVRs had done it, it started in Marathon and ended in Athens, we were put through the mill at times but had triumphed!
A well-earned hot dog and cold beer followed our victory and the inquest began: Dan had fought off his international jet-lag to finish impressively at 4:09, Simon briefly considered retirement running 3:55 (albeit he is too good for that crazy talk!), Jason had set an amazing time of 3:33 but still felt a sense of loss for his iPhone as it succumbed to a melted jellybean-related injury, Gill had nailed a personal best of 4:15 (awesome!), Tony secured a time of 4:07 which he was really pleased about but, like all his school teachers, had said he “could do better!” and Adam had lost most of his (or others’) clothing but finished at 4:38 with a smile and loving every moment of it, not forgetting Carmel who ran a great 51 minute 10k and was waiting on the right for us (err, should that not have been the left?!)
All in all, a brilliant experience, true support and amazing encouragement for each other (as is the cornerstone of BVR runners!) and has left everyone asking … “Where to next?!” … TP