Stavros Michael has managed to tick another experience off his bucket list, after successfully completing The Great Wall Marathon on Saturday.
The 24-year-old came 33rd out of 871 competitors, and first in his wave of runners which consisted of 200 people.
“I was more than happy with my performance,” Stavros told Neos Kosmos.
“Actually I was very shocked, especially because it was very hot that day and [there were] a lot of steps, so I didn’t think that I would get the time that I did,” but says that his finishing time of four hours and 47 minutes was still “a bit too long”.
The Greek Australian put in the hard yards ahead of his trip to China, training since December last year.
While he says that the most striking part of the event was the lush green scenery, Stavros won’t be forgetting coming face-to-face with the Great Wall any time soon.
“I’ll never forget the steps of the Great Wall of China and how big they were and how irregular they were; how some staircases felt like they went for eternity. It was unbelievable, there were 5,164 steps that I did and some of the steps were up to my waist.”
It was in June 2016 that the marathon runner returned to his ancestral home of Greece to take part in Running with the Gods, known to be one of the world’s hardest marathons at Mount Olympus. But even after his experience in China 12 months on, he still cites it as the most difficult.
“I don’t ever think I’ll do a marathon as hard as the Greece marathon; it prepared me,” said Stavros.
“I thought this marathon would be just as hard, and it was difficult, but it was nothing compared to Greece. I basically jumped in the deep end with that one and I’m swimming to the shallow end.”
There’s little time to rest however, with Stavros already setting his sights on his next run. In October he will hit the streets of his home city in the Melbourne Marathon, in which he competes religiously every year. But it won’t be long before he’s boarding a plane for his next adventure.
“I’ve got hopes of doing the Tokyo Marathon next year,” he said.
“But I’ve also been interested in a marathon in South Africa, which I’ve been told to try and do from some of the spectators and scouts from The Great Wall Marathon. They saw my time and they strongly suggested to me to do that one.”