Jennifer and Benji wearing their medals and official Marathon participation T-shirts
13 Jan 2021

Virtual Marathon, Actual Running! Two Fall 2020 CYAers ran the Athens Authentic Marathon during lockdown.

Every year in Athens, thousands of runners have the opportunity to participate in the Athens Authentic Marathon, covering the same ground as Pheidippides, the hero of a legend that inspired modern Marathons. (Phidippides was a messenger, who is said to have run from Marathon to Athens to bring news of the Greek victory over the Persians at the Battle of Marathon, in 490 BC.)

Like most things this past year, the 2020 Athens Marathon was different. Due to the restrictions for the prevention of Covid-19, the Marathon was held virtually! This meant that participants could run on a chosen path around their neighborhood, and track their distance digitally, in order to cover the official 26 miles.

The Executive Director of Student Affairs, Nadia Meliniotis, informed students about the run, and encouraged them to participate. Fall 2020 CYAers, Benji Hess and Jennifer Frank, decided to enroll, Benji running the full Marathon and Jennifer the 5k race.

We spoke to them about their experience and found that they were both excited to have participated!

J: I am very glad that Greece decided to hold the Virtual Marathon this year. It was very fun to participate in, and it felt great to be part of such an important annual tradition”

B: the experience was absolutely incredible. Although I didn’t keep up with my training before the event, I somehow managed to make the distance (with a couple gas-station breaks along the way, hah).

What route did you decide to take?

J: In order to find a good route, I looked up the 5K route from past years. It took me by the National Garden, the Temple of Zeus, and the University of Athens. I listened to music and enjoyed sightseeing as I ran.

B: I decided to head south. My halfway point was Vouliagmeni, and I managed to hit Ilioupoli, Argiroupoli, and Glyfada along the way. I left Athens at around five in the morning, and I caught the sunrise right as I was approaching the coast—it was an incredible experience to be running while the city was waking up!

During your semester with CYA, what did you like doing for exercise?

Virtual Marathon, Actual Running! Two Fall 2020 CYAers ran the Athens Authentic Marathon during lockdown. quotes

Jennifer biting her Authentic Marathon Participation Medal

J: Throughout the semester, I enjoyed running through the National Gardens and in the Panathenaic Stadium by CYA! These spots were so easily accessible from our neighborhood, which I’m very grateful for.

B: As every Athenian knows by now, there is nothing better than a good “Number 6.” (sms code sent by citizens when they wished to go outdoors for exercise during the lockdown).  I would take walks almost every night, normally to one of the Western hills past the Acropolis.

We would like to end this article by sharing Benji’s beautiful memory of the end of his Virtual Marathon Run:

The end of my race was particularly special; Jennifer and Theo met me at the Panathenaic Stadium right as I was finishing up with a banner made of trash bags, hah! Running through it, they took me home and surprised me with a brunch. All of my classmates were there waiting, and we had a lovely Sunday-morning meal. I’ll never forget that moment or the folks I got to share it with.