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J134 - Saturday, February 27: Aspropyrgos – Marathon Beach

65.13km – 8H34’ (Real time of the race because Serge stopped his watch at the Acropolis)
Altitude : 16m
It was a brisk entrance into Athens by a runner who says all his good feelings about running have returned.
However, being in the Greek capital doesn’t give us much pleasure; thanks to pedestrians, the entrance to shops, sidewalks and curbs it isn’t easy to find our way.  The showers have ceased and the wind from the gulf has cleared the sky so it is very blue with big high clouds.
We arrive at the Acropolis, the famous citadel which long ago was the population’s refuge during attack by the enemy.  Bordered by a lovely, wide paved alley, the temple dedicated to Athena overlooks the neighborhood and the city.  Last night we saw it from 10 km away, on the northern ring road.  Thomas and Florent would like to take close up shots of Serge and decide to enter the site.  They are  turned away because the tripod and the video camera, even if it is small, looks very professional, which means obtaining a permit and paying a fee.  The solution consists of buying 3 tickets at 12€ each and going in separately, with a smaller camera and no tripod!
All this beating around the bush takes 90 minutes, before we get to the ancient Panathenaic Stadium, known as Kallimarmaro, which means the “beautifully marbled,” because just as the Parthenon, this stadium was built entirely of marble in the IV century BC.  It was refurbished in 1895 by a wealthy ship owner for the 1896 Olympic Games. The stadium is 200 m long, and like all ancient stadiums is a long rectangle.  In the 2004 Olympic Games, the archery events and the arrival of the marathon took place here.  The annual Athens marathon, which starts in Marathon, finishes in this gorgeous stadium.  In a completely different style, there is the stadium to the north west of Athens, which was built in 1982 and completely renovated for the Games in 2004.  Serge was not far from there but he was more intent on talking with Géraldine and Melissa than on seeing the stadium and kept to his route toward Kefissia, where other runners took up the relay.  These relays were planned by Jean-Pascal, a French expat.  Serge is happy to share the kilometers, which speed by because everyone is running and of course talking and Serge takes a fall, thanks to an uneven sidewalk, but luckily was not injured.  Ascending to Ekali, the clouds gave us showers, and then the sky clears as we descended toward the sea at NeaMakri.
This morning Alain, who works at Club Med in Marathon, contacted me and found a hotel for us tonight at Marathon Beach.  In the winter, everything is closed.  We agree to meet in Maraton, then go up to meet the whole team.  Alain is delighted to finish the stage with Serge and Eymeric.  Tomorrow he will be at the start.
Jean-Pascal and Christophe came to share our dinner.  It’s a pleasure to hear about the country’s customs!
Many thanks to all of today’s runners :  Mélissa, Géraldine, Nathalie, Jean-Pascal and their 13 year old son, Jean-Roch who ran 15 km, his record to date, Jacques, Arnaud, Christophe, Arnaud, Eymeric and Alain.

Town : Marathon Plage (Attique)

GPS : N 38.11732° E 023.98638°