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06/23/2004: "Memories of Marathon"

Scott and Dana from archrival The New York Flyers came for dinner. Scott is another crazy fellow runner who shared the agony of running the Athens marathon last November. Under blazing sun and 80 degrees, we ran the historical 'original' (supposedly) marathon course plus a little detour around the tomb of Marathon warriors (not the marathon runners) which I called 'this mound of dirt.' Good 2/3 of the entire course (26 miles and change) was uphill. I'm not kidding. It was an endless uphill. I was so looking forward to the last 10 K which was supposed to be downhill, but it was just about flat. When we start the final decent into Athens we were supposed to see Acropolis, the beautiful ancient building, on the hill across the way but I didn't see it because of a gigantic billboard that blocked the view. And when we finished in the magnificent marble stadium our bags which was supposed to be transported from the start line by the race organizer wasn't there. Runners were yelling at the volunteers and the volunteers were screaming at each other. And we wondered: are they really going to have Olympics here next summer? That and not-so-nearly-finished construction of roads stadium whatever everywhere also made us worried about the Olympics for them. But otherwise the trip was wonderful. My hotel room had a large marble balcony that overlooked the ocean and was bigger than my whole apartment. I got to go dip in the ocean after the race. It was fun to hang out with 120 other crazy US runners from all over the country, like Kentucky, Alaska, and even Saipan. Scott and Val, only two other New Yorkers in the group, were the funniest and friendliest people. It was interesting because many of the people from the rest of the country seemed to think New York is this scary, chaotic city. Not a place to live. But Val and I, on the flight back, really looked forward to be home in New York.

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