The Athens Marathon will be taking place on October 31 2010 and NORTHERN RUNNING GUIDE is sending Chris Broadbent out to race in this historic event. We asked Chris to tell us how he is feeling in the run up to the race, and why he was unable to resist the lure of this legendary route...
Everyone needs some sort of inspiration when tackling the marathon. It doesn't matter if you are Paula Radcliffe or Joe Jogger, it is a race that is as much about the mental challenge as it is the physical. So whether it's pushing the boundaries of what is humanly possible or raising funds for a charitable cause, everyone needs some sort of mental push to get them across the line.
My first marathon was simply about proving to myself that I could do it. Having ticked the box with 3hrs 48 in London, I found motivation running a little lower for subsequent marathons. As a consequence, I became slower and slower. I wouldn't say I was less fit for 2004 New York or 2005 London, but the fire in the belly just didn't burn as fierce.
This year, I was cajoled into my first marathon for five years by a close friend recently diagnosed with arthritis. He wanted to climb his personal Mount Everest whilst his deteriorating condition still allowed him to. His courage acted as a spur for me and I managed to take 13 minutes off my best time in Brighton in April.
The race refreshed my attitude to the distance and I started to think more about racing again and improving my time. But I was equally aware that I am a runner who needs that extra incentive. Not for me the treadmill of the same races year-on-year. I looked at the race calendar.
New York? 'Brilliant race, but can't have the same buzz the second time round'. Chicago? 'Sounds good, but might be just New York lite.' Berlin? Dublin? Loch Ness? All held some appeal. But nothing grabbed me. Then it happened. I was approached about the idea of Athens. The Athens Marathon? Straight away I knew this was the one.
The idea of running from the town of Marathon to the Athens Stadium which hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 was irresistible. What runner wouldn't fancy that? I was already sold on it before I learned the 2010 race marks a very special anniversary.
Legend has it that 2500 years ago in 490BC the soldier Pheidippides' ran from a battlefield in Marathon to inform the people of Athens that the Greeks had defeated the Persian army. He arrived, delivered the momentous message of victory, then collapsed and died.
Clearly no-one would wish to relive Pheidippides experience in its entirety. But his journey of joy and pain is one that I think all marathon runners can - at some level - relate to. And for me, the opportunity to retrace the steps of the forefather of all marathon runners is all the incentive I need.
Chris Broadbent is travelling to Athens courtesy of Sports Tours International, who over the last 30 years have taken 1000s of people on running holidays around the world. Their marathon tours include ING New York City Marathon, the Berlin Marathon, the Paris Marathon, the Chicago Marathon, the Tokyo Marathon, the Boston Marathon and the Land Rover Malta Marathon.