Greece was spectacular. The first part of the trip was spent on the islands of Santorini and Mykonos. Glenn and I had planned on visiting at least one more island but bad weather docked the boats and ferries and we were forced to spend an extra day on Santorini. Despite our moaning and anticipation of getting to Mykonos, our last day on Santorini turned out to be our favorite. We set off on a spontaneous run to the north of the island and stumbled upon some of the most beautiful sites and trails. Glenn's pictures document the journey far better than mine and I highly recommend you view his pictures too. While some of our photos are redundant, as we all know, Glenn's got the photographer eye for beauty...
We ended up on a ferry out of Santorini. It was the SLOW ferry, the only one available. It took a laborious 9 hours to get to Mykonos, but it was well worth the wait!
Mykonos was a blast. It's a party island that never sleeps. We stayed in Hotel Phillippi right in the center of the fun. Here, we did quite a bit of exploring too and, of course, hit the beaches, and overall, we liked the winding confusing streets of Mykonos best.
On Thursday, the day before the Spartathlon, we nixed the ferry plan and instead took a flight back to Athens. There, we met Scott, Leah, and Barefoot Ted. We had a nice apartment with a kitchen and Scott even cooked for US the night before his race. Mmmm...good food!
Experiencing the Spartathlon as a crew member on Team Jerker was an experience of a lifetime. This was a friggin' phenomenal RACE with so many previous Spart winners competing for this year's win. It was very hot and humid. Many said way hotter than last year. Scott took it easy in the heat while the others looked SOOO good and pranced on ahead. Front positions leaped frequently but Scott stayed behind, sometimes in second and sometimes as far as 25 minutes back. Scott was running very well, but the others were so strong and were at times running better. BUT, as we expected, some of the others overdid it in the heat and started dropping back one by one while Scott powered out his surge with 50k to go. And holy cow did he surge! He was racing. I mean sub 7 min miles down the hills with over 125 miles on his legs. It was thrilling, spectacular, simply amazing to witness up front and personal.
As crew, early on we were cheerleaders for all the runners, yelling encouragements in all languages and gleaning smiles and high fives from all the runners from the first to the last. When we were able to crew later in the race, we focused on Scott but Valmir Nunes and the Polish Piotr (who RAN from Poland to Athens to run the race!) and Markus and a couple other world-class runners were all leaping and racing up and down the winding roads. A few others jumped in to taste the lead pack but it came down to Scott and Valmir for a long time and they were actually running together and helping each other in the competition for the win. It was inspiring and heart touching. Scott tried to keep Valmir along but he had to let him drop back in his ever increasing push push push to the end. About 50k from the finish, we KNEW he would do it and I even penned in his "Scott takes the lead here" in my notes before it happened. It was just so cool...
...and the finish line. Oh, the finish line! What splendor! The rich history and culture permeates this race. Wet eyes and stifled happy transnational sobs all over the place. What glory.
Mark Godale finished in 30-1/2 hours, running very well until he had to walk the last 42k of the race. Unfortunately, we didn't see him finish because we went to the best of the best Greek restaurants ever with one of the Jurek's local friends and ate until our bellies nearly burst (thanks Kirk and Ares!). Gifts were showered upon Scott, kids were pawned out for hugging and touching the champion, and kisses were stolen from young and very old women alike. We could only soak in the atmosphere and promise we would return in some capacity or another next September.
After the race, there was an podium awards ceremony in Sparta, and that was followed by a movie and a host of other race events to attend the next day as we made our way back to Athens for the "real" awards ceremony, dinner, and celebration.
Here are my pictures of the islands and the Spartathlon race.
Be sure to check out Glenn's pictures too!
I think Barefoot Ted will have some coming soon as well. Here's a link to BFT's blog. Some pictures are already posted along with some interviews of Scott before the race.
PS - Anna is riding the 508 solo. I decided to not do the race for various reasons. So, please send her energy and positive mojo. She's an excellent cyclist and is so far doing very well. Go Anna, GO!!