Running marathons all over the world made me visit many interesting places. When I just started running marathons I was only focusing on the large marathons. The majors.
So I was running Berlin, New York, Chicago, Tokyo and Boston. They are all great marathons, but they are just too big to let you feel special. And that's the reason why I enjoy running "smaller" marathons so much. Like Rhodes.
For me running marathons abroad is to get to know a new city, culture and/or country. It's about spending time with people I love and in the meanwhile run the magic distance through a new city you are about to discover. In fact, running the marathon is part of that discovery. And well..let’s say I discovered Rhodes!
So where to start? From the moment I arrived I felt at home at this island. Rhodes has it all. It's a perfect destination to visit. The old town is impressive. During my first run in the morning I felt like running in medieval times. Like a kid in Disneyland. I just wanted to run through history. And so I did. The days before the marathon I ran a lot. From the ancient Olympic stadium to a magnificent run between the medieval walls (with old stone catapult balls all over the place).
From the small streets in old town to the boulevards near the Aegean Sea. For me it’s the perfect way to discover new places. Running through a city you don’t know. You’ll see many highlights, get to understand the city and spot some nice opportunities for lunch/dinner later that day. And if you’re running, it’s likely that you go off that beaten track. You’re just not that “average” tourists walking the same route. So I was already having lots of fun, and that marathon was still on the menu.
How about value for money? The (low) registration fee includes a official Adidas technical tee, your BIB for the marathon, an iconic medal, free photos of the race for you to download afterwards and the best pasta party I have ever been to on Saturday. Busses take you from downtown to the town of Kallithea where you’ll be eating pasta on the perfect wedding location.
The setting will amaze you and when the fireworks start you're more than ready for that marathon the next day. This is one of that moments you just can’t film. You have to be there to feel that magic. Well, that's the way I like to spend my evening before the big race.
The marathon itself is extremely well organized. The early morning start (7 am) will give you some shades and a sun that’s not too hot. The marathon start is within walking distance of any hotel if you stay in the old center. Another advantage of smaller marathons is that you can just leave your hotel 30min before start.
You’ll start near the old harbor and run next to the old gates of the town with a never-ending view on that great Aegean Sea. During the race you’ll pass the iconic three windmills, some heroic statues (Diagoras) and the great entrance gates to the medieval city.
And yeah, there’s this hill. It’s a though one, but the view will be rewarding if you’re on top. Since you’re running two laps, there are always people around and you’ll get support of runners passing by in the other direction. Best thing about early start marathons? You'll finish before noon, so there's plenty of time to sit down, enjoy the sun and relax while you're having a well deserved Greek beer. Can it get any better?
Rhodes has been a great addition to the marathons I ran so far. Will cherish that beautiful medal (that looks like an ancient coin with the Greek god Apollo on it), and I will never forget the beauty of the island and the dedication of all people that were part of the organization.
That dedication of people involved is maybe the biggest succesfactor of smaller marathons. It will give you that personal touch. And in Rhodes they sure know how to treat there runners. This marathon is a gem and here to stay!
Sunny Schippers (59 marathon in 28 different countries; @mistermarathon on Instagram), Amsterdam