6th Metropolitan race information
These 5k and 10k races take place at the old Athens airport Elliniko, using the old runway. The race is very well organised with water at 5k and finish. Many marshalls are along the way. The course is flat and accurately measured. This year 175 runners participated in the 10k run (33 of which were women) and 137 runners participated in the 5k run (48 of which were women). There is also a 2km race for kiddies before the 5k and 10k start. Very nice medals are given out at the end. It’s a unique opportunity to get inside the decommissioned Boeing 747 resting at Elliniko and sit in the pilot’s seat in the cockpit as the race starts and finishes in front of it. Cups are given to the winners on the steps of the plane. The race happens some time in April when it’s always a bit hot, so be prepared.
Elliniko is situated about 7km south of Athens and the town of Glyfada is just a few minutes away by car. The closest metro station is Elliniko, which is about 2km from the start of the race. For those coming by car, in the previous years, one used to be able to park right at the start of the race. This year we were not allowed to do so and we had to use the parking outside the entrance to the airport, about 1km away from the start. You can either walk but the organisers had a bus that took runners and their supporters to the start and back.
My personal experience of the 6th Metropolitan race
Last Sunday ran in the 6th Metropolitan race (6ος Μητροπολιτικὀς αγὠνας) at the old Athens airport ‘Elliniko’. It is a race organised by the running club Efklis (of which I am a member) in collaboration with the cultural centre of Olympic Airways, the Greek national airline that sadly does not exist anymore. It is a 5k and a 10k race up and down the old runway, while the start and finish are right in front of the decommissioned Boeing 747 “Olympic Eagle”. The course is flat (being a runway and all) and the course measured reasonably accurately (I personally helped the organisers with this using my Garmin 630). So for all intents and purposes it should be a quick race and an opportunity for a PB. Last year I also took part in this race and I was 3rd in the 10k race, so although it is ridiculous for a person with my 10k times to be hoping to be on the podium, last year’s precedent did put more pressure on me. However, as I don’t feel in great form these days, I was more concerned about being able to near my PB time (no dreams about beating it). We lined up for the start of the race on time (about 9.30am) and as I was standing there I was sweating.
The temperature rose by quite a bit this week, my Garmin registered 21oC at the start of the race but it really felt much warmer and during the race it must have risen to 23oC or more. Plus there is absolutely no shade during the run. For the first quarter of the race there was a bit of a head wind and that helped, but when I turned to complete the first loop I felt my head burning and was seriously considering stopping at 5k, going for a DNF and doing a terrible 5k time.
However, I persevered as I do, threw some water over my head and shoulders and continued for the second half. I passed 5k being 4th, ahead of me was a young girl running strong.
I had to either pass her or do a decent 10k time, not achieving either was not going to be any good. As I didn’t have it in me to go any faster I tried to overtake the runner ahead of me. I made my first attempt at around 6k, the first time she sped up so I couldn’t do it, but I managed on my second attempt and tried to break away. For a few minutes there was this to occupy my brain and make the meters go a bit faster. But for the rest of the time I felt awful. In the end I managed to retain my 3rd position but finish 1 minute over my PB at 47.39, ooops!
Never mind, I was grateful to get my medal and that the torment was over. I took my son and we went inside the Boeing 747 that was open for us that day, we had seen it before but we both totally love it and can’t get enough of it. We went everywhere, we looked at its kitchen areas, we walked all the way to the back, we sat at its seats. It’s a huge huge plane and really pretty too, with light blue ancient Greek-themed drawings on its window shutters. Our turn came to go upstairs where the 1st class area and the cockpit are. Up we went and straight into the pilot’s seat.
My boy was so excited. What a feeling must it be sitting there when the plane is on the move, what a sensation! As we came out of the plane it was time for giving out the award prizes to the winners, where I proudly got my cup and smiled for the pictures.
It has been one more year I managed to get on the podium but this time I had to work for it, I’m not running as well these days and more and more women are starting to run in Greece. Once again it was a wonderful race, very well organised by Efklis in a beloved place. This was the runway my plane used to land on when I was returning from my studies abroad between 1993 and 2004, when the airport moved to another spot. In those days you always used to come out of the plane and go to the terminal by bus, so as you came out of the cabin the sea was the first thing to see in the distance as the warm sweet air of home hit your nostrils. We all love being back there whenever the opportunity arises. Being able to run on its runways is an amazing experience.