The Penny Marathon - we did it!
Greek Australian Eleftheria Prodromou, ran a gruelling marathon on the hottest day in Greece to raise awareness for stray animals. She says thanks to all that helped her
After months of planning - and training - the Penny Marathon 2012 (PM12) kicked off at 3:30 am on Monday 16 July the hottest day of the year for Greece, with a convoy of two cars, four cyclists, four runners, a couple of photographers, some quality cheerleaders and a whole lot of barking dogs.
We clocked in a running time of 4.15 hours, not including a few short stops along the way. When you run a guerilla marathon, every runner, car and cyclist needs to stop when nature calls, when you need to change out of your sweat-drenched top and when you stop to feed a stray dog along the way - yes, we had cans of food ready to go for cats and dogs we met along the way.
Did we mention it was tough? Oh, yes! But when Kalimarmaro came into view... well, it was hard not to get emotional. Our permission to enter the stadium was unprecedented. Just the Athens Classic Marathon and the Penny Marathon - what a coup!
And it looks like we're doing it again next year. New cyclists and runners have already asked to join.
We have a lot of people to thank with all our heart. It was wonderful to share this experience with you. We never imagined this kind of interest and support. So here we go:
Firstly John Spinoulas - runner, project manager and time keeper. Not only the heart and soul of PM12, but the brains too. John, this could have never happened without you. We're so glad you read about our idea over the internet and made contact and then dragged in Leon too. You are an exceptional human being. We are honoured to call you our friend. Note: let's call ahead for ice cream next year, please.
Leon Holevas - runner and our big brother. A natural athlete who glided his way towards the finish line effortlessly. Both John and Leon surprised us with an amazing gift - they gave us their official medals from the 2010 and 2011 Athens Classic Marathon. What a gesture - and just one of many.
Chrisanthy Efstathiou - project manager, driver and videographer. This marathon was run to honour people like Chrisanthy who spend so much of their time and money caring for unwanted animals. Chrisanthy is, in short, our hero. She puts in the hours day in day out, year after year, to look after our dogs. You are one in a million.
Kostas Spinoulas - driver. Probably the toughest role of them all, protecting us from backline traffic, keeping us safe and carrying supplies. You did a brilliant job and you did it with calmness and grace.
Karen Rolland and Yiorgos Tolias - support. Foster parents of Vera (the pup hit and left for dead by a Hellenic Post contractor), this duo were ready to do anything. And they did. Thank you for your selflessness and generosity. You never doubted us for a moment. And delivered on all promises. We are so proud to have shared this experience with people like you.
Margarita, Vaggelis Tasiopoulos, Alexia Symeonidis and Christina Miekidis - cyclists. Thank you for keeping us so safe. Thank you for your camaraderie and encouraging messages of support. It was a treat to hear you bicker over who was going to supply the next round of Poweraid. I bet the professionals don't have singers like you.
Akis Giannikopoulos - graphics, support. His work is all over PM12. You were on board from day one and you didn't complain once over tweaks and changes. How many designers do you know that would also turn up for road support at 3:00 am in the morning?
Costas Trianta from BikeMe.gr - official photographer. It was startling to watch you weave in and out of traffic to get to the right vantage point to take pics of us at our most agonising and triumphant moments. You climbed buildings and bridges and popped up everywhere. Not sure how you did it, really. It was an honour to have you there. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Oh, and thanks for negotiating with the garbage truck ... the stench!
Stella Belessi and Julie - stage 2 runners. It was terrific to have the two of you join us at Ethniki Amyna and do the final stretch together. See you again next year. Stella: keep feeding the 70 neighbourhood cats that rely on you.
Stavroula Adamopoulou and Stelios. Our cheerleaders at the finishing line, ready to offer a warm hug and a cold drink. It was so cool of you to wait for us in that heat.
Lea Prodomou - long suffering older sister. You couldn't make it because you were busy looking after our Aussie dogs and keeping the wheels turning back home. I'm sure we don't say it enough, but you're a terrific sister. How about we stay home next year and you run the marathon? No, we insist. No, really.
KAE international movers and Neos Kosmos - major sponsors. How many companies do you know would agree to sponsor a first-time, unofficial marathon in the middle of a European summer run by a couple of amateurs who had never run 42 kms before? A big thanks to Michael Kae, Christopher Gogos, Sotiris Hatzimanolis and staff.
We would also like to thank Pixelbrothers, zoosos.gr and adespoto.gr and Marilia Karamani and the FOIVO team too for their support from the very beginning. You gave us the encouragement we needed; thanks.
Monika's Doggie Rescue. Karen Trafford and team, we take our hat off to people like you. Running a marathon is nothing compared to what you guys do day in, day out and year after year. We think you rock.
To all the people that put their money with their mouth is - the donors. We are very grateful that you believed in us enough to make a donation. Once all is said and done, it's that couple of grand that makes the difference. And thanks to those who actually turned up to the party (we raised EUR 150). Didn't get a chance to donate? It's not to late; as we are still taking donations.
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