Run the Lake is in its 5th year now and is turning out to be one of the coolest and most popular races in Athens. A tough 10k race in a wonderful environment, that takes place just before Christmas. It starts and finishes at the gorgeous Vouliagmeni lake at the south coast of Athens and takes in the very best sea views of the area. My family and myself swim in this lake everyday day from June to October so this place feels like home to me.
The race this year had an emotional character as it was raising money to help cover the hospitalisation expenses of one of his inspirers the great Greek marathon runner Kyriakos Lazaridis that was fighting for his life since June, after he collapsed during a 5k race at the centre of Athens. For all of us that new him, remembered him there last year and were shocked and saddened by his taking ill, this was a way to have him near us again. We ran with his name in our lips on that beautiful cold and sunny December morning.
Although I was feeling really out of shape after my November Athens marathon and this was really showing in my training times, I somehow managed a half minute PB since last year, managing to run the 10k at 47.32’, a minute over my fastest 10k time, which was totally justified by the hilly nature of the course. Smiles all around then. My boy and me went to pick up my medal and goody bag from inside the lake grounds where there was a true party atmosphere with lots of runners going in for a dive. We took some nice selfies (my boy had come wearing his Santa outfit) and said hi to all our friends that work there and that we hadn’t seen for a couple of months. A wonderful running occasion to close the running year.
Run the Lake is not a race for a PB due to its undulations and hills. It is also a bit more than 10k so you need to make sure that you take note of your 10k time when you pass the 10k mark for your records. The race starts at the Vouliagmeni lake and takes a left turn after about 800m. At about 1.5k you take a right turn and you are about to tackle the first tough hill of the race (about 400m long), which is thankfully followed by a 500 downhill section. A reasonably flattish 500m long stretch brings you to just before 3k where you take a sharp left and run about 900m downhill towards the beach at Kavouri. A left turn and another slight 500m incline is followed by a right turn. At that point you have to climb back up the 500m section you sped down earlier. The 400m downhill section (quite steep, knock yourself out here) brings you back to Laimos. At the bottom (almost at 5k) you take a right turn and run in the flat for about 400m meters. The really tough section of the race starts here as the hills, though shorter, are quite steep. That first incline will get you to one of the most beautiful spots, if you can still breath do take a second to look at the sea view on your left (though this may be easier when coming back as you will be on the right side of the road for looking at the sea). The road levels off for a little while so your legs can recover from that sharp hill and you can regain some speed. The next steep hill will bring you to the peninsula of Laimos. You have wonderful sea views all around you here. You will be tired but do try to take a look if you can. You are almost at 7k there and this is the point you turn and run back towards the lake. There a couple of hills from here on but the tough bit is over and you also have some nice flat and downhill sections.
The Garmin workout of this race can be found on: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1487295647
A very well organised race, free from traffic all the way, with a water station at 5k and first aid stations along the way. The medals and goody bags are given on the lake grounds and runners can swim for free there on that day. Don’t fret, the water temperature is much warmer than the sea’s and it shouldn’t fall below 21oC even during winter.