Do not allow others to snatch your dreams from you

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It is really a sad day when other people start to dictate to you how big or how small you should dream.

A few years ago no one would believe me if I told them that I was going to take up running, not to mention the crazy idea to take on the world’s toughest ultra-marathon, the ultimate human race, Comrades. You can imagine the reaction I got from my friends and family. I must say, the support was next to nothing, amazing, unselfish, in most cases. In general people never understood what I was doing, well, what I was trying to do, but they still supported me.

Well, this was my decision, my dream. I followed my dream, I trained, prepared myself and I did my first Comrades and now we are four years down the line and I am heading for Comrades number five. This will be a down run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban on Sunday, the 10th of June 2018. The 2018 Comrades slogan is fittingly, “Asijiki – No Turning Back”

This brings me to the matter at hand today; when you don’t have that support and people don’t support you.

I know someone who gave up on her Comrades dream and decided to pull out of Comrades. This was also going to be her back to back. I was saddened when I heard this and I am convinced that this is not because she does not want to do Comrades but because she had to let go of this dream because of someone else’s selfishness and as a result of that, non-support. What a sad reality. Maybe you know someone like this.

It was Theodore Roosevelt who said, “I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do! That is character!”

In this process, in her case, the strong and fighting character we got to know on the road in some way will die a slow and selfish death and we will miss her fighting spirit and support especially on those long, trying and defining races, but as we continue on this journey that we are on, we will continue to follow our own dreams and give it our very best shot to make it become our reality.

When we follow our own dreams, I think it is only human that we expect support and encouragement from the people we consider close to us; instead some sadly experience only rejection and criticism, making the journey even tougher.

We have to learn not to care so much about what others think.

Remember that your passion is the priority. Try to avoid that “What if…” moments. A lot of people go through the motions in life, not doing what they love or dream about. They end up looking back with regret at the things they dreamt about but did not do.

Whether people support you or not, please try to avoid that moment when you look back with regret at those dreams you never followed. Your dreams are the most important things in your life. Follow your heart and do what is right for you and avoid a life lived to please and live up to other’s expectations or a life lived to avoid other’s negative reaction or jealousy. It is just not worth it.

Remember, life is short and we have but one life to live, but if we do it right and to the fullest I guess once is enough.

Living the life others want you to live makes you nothing but a puppet on a string. This is plain wrong. It is important to live your life; just to live out your dreams but also to bring you to the place where you can reach and fulfil your own full potential. Again, life is short, make the most of it. Live your best possible life.

It is also important to know that people often don’t support us just because they do not want us to fulfil our dreams but merely because they just don’t understand us and they do not see what drives us. This often make them seem dissenting, bit it is not the case.

I personally try not to take it to heart when people discourage me. I realize that they are uninformed and often it is best just to ignore them.

Another fact is that people often do not support us or do not allow us to live our dreams because they have their own insecurities and difficulty to focus on and live out their own dreams. This is sad but true. Often this is a major obstacle couples have to overcome, where the one dreams big and the other not at all. Unfortunately the reality here is that this could be as a result of plain ignorance or even stone cold jealousy.

I have used this quote a zillion times before, even in the video I did with Discovery on Medical Miracles. It was Madiba who said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”, so remember, anything is possible. I am living proof of this.

We cannot predict the future, no one can, but please do not get caught up on the doom and gloom of what others believe is possible or not. Dream big and do whatever it takes to make your dreams come true. Don’t let objections from others become your truth and limit you from creating what you want in life. Fact is, anything is possible if you believe in yourself and work hard.

You have to believe that you can realize your dreams without those who do not want to support you. Yes, it is natural to want support and encouragement from those close to us, but it is possible to do what you want to do without it also. It is fact that many successful and inspiring people took the road less travelled. The potential to realize your dreams is locked up inside of you and you have to believe that, make it your own and then don’t give up. Pursue your own dreams, live your own life and become the best version of who you were meant to be.

Let me share this last thought. Another life lesson I have learned is that we cannot please everyone. It is virtually impossible. So, keep your focus on what you want to do and know why. In an ideal world, I think, we all would love to be constantly surrounded by positive people who will support us in everything we do, but this is not going to happen. Reality dictates that there will always be those who will want to drag us down with them to their graveyard of unaccomplished and unfulfilled dreams and where negativity reigns. Let’s not go there!

Friends, dream big and optimize your talents. Our lives are filled with timeless opportunities, we need to seize every opportunity and make it great. Please, do not allow others to snatch your dreams from you

— Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @myownjourney_sa

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OMTOM2017 Success !

IMG_7702Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra-Marathon is without doubt one of my favorite event on the running calendar. I just love this race, not only because it is definitely the most beautiful marathon in the world, not only because it is in Cape Town, not only because it is well organized, not only because it was my first ultra-marathon and not only because it gives us a chance to take a short break, but also because of the unique challenge of this race.

This year I arrived here in Cape Town with one goal for OMTOM2017, to just run my race and decided that I will be happy with a comfortable sub 6, but most importantly I wanted finish without issues, without injury and feeling good. Race day offered me that and more. My unofficial plan was to try and get a PB in the bag, with a possible 05:47 (previous personal best was 05:50 in 2014 ).

As race day unfolded along this amazing breathtaking OMTOM route, I realized that I was on track to make it happen. At 17 km I had to stop because of severe nausea, but once I’ve taken care of that, it was back to the road pushing towards the finish line. When I got to the bottom of Chapmans Peak I was still on track and felt great. I maneuvered my way up ‘Chappies’ with caution, worked in three proper stops, with about three minutes of walking and then made up some time down the other side. I knew ‘fly now pay later’ will soon be a reality if I was not cautious. Getting into Hout Bay I felt great. I passed the 42km mark and almost fell over when I noticed it was 04:11 into the race. This where I got little positive booster, realizing the plan for the day was busy playing out really well. I planned ahead for Constantia Nek and I once again wondered, can one really be prepared for Constantia? Anyway, I continued and knew every step was a step closer to the finish.

The plan changed slightly when I caught up with Melinda Smal and Esti Kemp from Magnolia about 7 km from the end. Drill Sergeant Smal was not interested in excuses whatsoever so Esti and I just had latch on and run. There was no mercy whatsoever. But it was all good, at this stage I knew the PB was in the bag it was just a matter of what time it was going to be. Turning into the UCT grounds is always a joy, this time round, even more so.

I crossed the finish line with Melinda and Esti at 05:42:54.

#OMTOM2017 mission accomplished !

18057001_10150802279204946_8391414820810149647_nIt is in moments like this that one can appreciate the progress made, when you see the results of hard work and commitment, many early mornings, endless kilometers in the road and hours in the gym. It all comes together on days like this. Hard work pays off, that is for sure. Fact is, good runs like this don’t just happen, you train for it, you work hard for it, but the reward is great when you reach your goals and that is when you move those boundaries a little further.

I want to thank everyone who supported me, all the messages, following me on the app and the calls, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

It is now a short week of taking it easy and then this coming weekend we will take on the Loskop 50km Ultra Marathon, now that is going to be interesting, to say the least. But we will be there and take it as it comes.

[ …more photos here ]

Be Inspired

As we build up to the three big races coming up, Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, Loskop Ultra and then Comrades Marathon, I am sharing various inspirational images on my Twitter and Instagram account. Follow me on @myownjourney_sa and enjoy these.

If you have a special short quote you like to share, please comment below and I can maybe include it in the collection.

IMG_3373  IMG_3400IMG_3401  IMG_3446IMG_3458  IMG_3479IMG_3528  IMG_3590IMG_3349.JPG  IMG_3347  IMG_3305  IMG_3246  IMG_3231  IMG_3211  IMG_3200  IMG_3129  IMG_3128  IMG_3117  IMG_3114  IMG_3098  IMG_3071  IMG_3066  IMG_3061  IMG_3018  IMG_3009  IMG_3005  IMG_2848  IMG_2827  IMG_2815  IMG_2814  IMG_2238  IMG_2200  IMG_2197  IMG_2137  IMG_2121  IMG_2110  IMG_2109  IMG_2107  IMG_2103  IMG_2101  IMG_1997  IMG_1996  IMG_1989  IMG_1972  IMG_1971

The balance between training runs and weekend races

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TeamVitality at Garbie 32km Race

To me there are basically three important races if you are training for Comrades Marathon, your weekend races, then your qualifier and then the biggy, Comrades. Those three, in that order.

I get really nervous when I hear people talk about their personal bests, week in and week out. Your Comrades training runs and weekend races are not to set up personal bests.

It involves a huge commitment when you decide to take on the iconic ultra of all ultras, “The Ultimate Human Race”, Comrades.

We usually meet up with running buddies and get so caught up in the hype of Comrades and before you know it you are onto it, convinced that you have to go all out on every run and run one PB after the other. Not so. Not necessary. In fact, you will gain less by doing that.

Races are an important part of Comrades, but they are not there to see how fast you can go or how many PBs you can run, they are then to keep you focused, they are there to bring that balance between a casual training run and a little more effort and to test your progress.

In my training runs, over the past three years of doing Comrades, I have always believed in a good mix up of runs. During my training runs I do speed work, hill training, some gym work ( although I have to admit, I am lazy with this ) and also do some slow runs and finish off the bouquet with some nice pace runs. PB’s do not make you fast, focusing on specifics during training do. Most Comrades runners will tell you that the only thing you will get from going all out at every single run is probably a good dose of fatigue and burnout and if you are one of the unlucky one, you can and often will end up with some injuries too.

Your training runs during the week should be the more relaxed ones where you get your needed kilometers on your legs and where you can test all your supplements, new running gear, your drinking habits etc. Your weekend races, because it is organised and more structured, will be more intense and ideal to focus on a little more pacing and rhythm and also help you to see how you manage the crowds at the start and on the route off course. It is important to finish your races feeling comfortable and more on the fresh side; not strained and definitely not sore. In fact, when you’re done, you should be able to turn around and do an easy four of five kilometers recovery run.

The weekend races form a really important part of your training and preparation for Comrades and should not be neglected. The training load you get from them is in general higher than what you get from your training runs during the week. Oh and it is a great opportunity to meet up with your team mates and friend and enjoy the time out on the road.

Know this, if you apply variety to your training program, your times will actually come down by themselves as you approach Comrades.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
– Benjamin Franklin

So, to recap, train hard, focus on your speed and stamina and then get your qualifier out of the way. A good qualifier will not only set you up for a Comrades start with a little more peace of mind, but it will also give you a good idea of where you are in terms of training. After that it is a good healthy balance between variety, quality and quantity. I am not going to get into details of how many kilos you should do a week, there are a variety of training guides out there for that and they also vary depending on what kind of runner you are. I do not think there a generic and single plan for all, in fact I know a few people who tried those and got into trouble at Comrades. Use these as guidelines.

Whatever you do, learn to apply self-discipline, be focused and do what is needed to get you first to the start line and then to the finish. And last but not least, do not underestimate Comrades. It is not called “The Ultimate Human Race” for nothing.

Happy training everyone.

PwC George Claassen Memorial Road Race 2017 : My Six Year Anniversary Run

This morning’s PwC George Claassen Memorial Road Race marked my six year running anniversary. This is where my running journey started, on the 29th of January 2011.

Let me take you back to that day real quick. There were more than 3000 athletes lining up that morning for the 10km and 21.1km races, but there was also the walkers and more specific, the 5km fun run group; I was lined up there. Although I was already two years into my weight loss journey, I have never done a single race in my life, and there I was, hoping to make the 5km with a combination of running and walking, hopefully no crawling. Well, I did finish with an ‘accomplished’ time of 00:30:20. For me the time was not important, I was just very happy to finish. I loved the whole vide of this event so much that I joined the Running Inn running club, bought my first running shoes, got my first ASA license that very day ( after the race ) and I guess I could then call myself a ‘runner’.

That morning Pieter Venter was also there, doing his first 10km race and also he never stopped. That day marked the beginning of new chapter for the both of us.

Following this event I started doing races on a regular basis and looked forward to every weekend because it meant, like I called it then, ‘races and places’. That gave birth to my current slogan I love to use – ‘Making Miles and Moments Count

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This morning, lining up for this very same event, I was overwhelmed with so much gratitude, feeling so blessed, that I can still do what I love and love what I do, running, sharing the road with so many awesome people and maintaining my healthy lifestyle and in the process encourage others to do the same, to live their best possible lives. Standing there at the start of this morning’s race I was taken back in time for a split moment to thàt first 5km fun run just a few blocks away from where we were this morning ( back then the race started at the back of Menlyn Park Shopping Centre ) and then an announcement by Pete brought me back to this morning’s event. I looked at Christo Lourens standing next to me and immediately thought of the #Road2Comrades2017 we are on, the road to his very first Comrades Marathon, my fourth. I thought to myself, ‘Here I am, six years down the road of my very own running journey and in a privileged position helping a friend to realize his very own Comrades dream.’ On the 4th of June I am determined to cross that finish line at Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg with Christo Lourens next to me.

My message to everyone reading this is simple, ‘Let no one ever tell you that something is not possible, because it is.’ My favorite quote, the quote that carried me through my very first Comrades, are these words by the late Nelson Mandela, ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ If you dream it, chances are pretty good that you can achieve it. With hard work and commitment the impossible is very possible. It is always within your reach to achieve extraordinary things. Believe it. Always remember, there are always something out there to help you achieve your goals, you just have to find it. For me, joining Discovery Vitality made a huge difference, helping me to stay focused, committed and determined to carry on and then also rewarding me for doing so. Never was it so simple to work out and get rewarded all at the same time.

Let me also take this opportunity to just thank everyone who was and still is part of my journey for your love, support and encouragement. No, it was not always easy and no things did not always worked out as planned, but, I never gave up, never quit, never opted for second best, I worked hard, pushed on, set new goals, leaned forward and reached out for what was ahead. All of you made that possible for me. If I had to do this alone, I am not sure that it would have played out this way at all. I’ve learned to never underestimate the value of a friend of fellow runner, because they are the people who lift us up when we need it most, when we are tired, discouraged and weary.

Happy running everyone and have fun chasing your dreams !

[ Read more about my journey here : http://www.myownjourney.co.za ] and follow me on Twitter or Instagram @myownjourney_sa ( links on my web page )

2017 is around the corner…

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Are you ready to welcome the New Year ?
Are you ready to step out and take a new chance on life ?
Are you ready to push your boundaries and challenge yourself to living your best possible life ?

People, this is probably going to be my last post for 2016 and I want to take this opportunity to first thank everyone for being part of my life and my journey throughout this past year. Thank you for your love and support and for believing in me, even when I didn’t. It is so amazing to always feel the love and support form everyone, whether it is in person or via social media, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I really appreciate all the support.

This year was a good year for me with so many wonderful moments and experiences and the good definitely outweighed the not so good. Thinking about all the races I did, it all went well and I was blessed not to have too many injuries or stuff holding me back.

I did my third Comrades Marathon this year and it was an honor to do it this year for the Bible Society of South Africa’s Run For Bibles project and Cornelia Hutchinson and I managed to raise more than R14,000 for this awesome charity. We were so blessed with the awesome support we received. This was also my best Comrades run to date – it was just a really good day on the road.

I also won the Discovery Vitality #MyVitalityPB competition during September and the trip I won to Athens Greece made it possible for myself and Pieter Venter to not only travel to Greece but also to run the Athens Authentic Marathon, celebrating 120 years of the marathon as we know it. What an awesome opportunity ! Feeling so blessed !

There were many other races, Two Oceans, Forever Loskop, Cape Town Marathon and many more – all wonderful events where I was able to share the road with my awesome running family and friends. Part of the highlights of all these events are always the people we get to share the road with. Thank you guys for making each event a special one.

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#Road2Comrades2017

During this year, a very special individual also entered into my life in the form of Christo Kris Lourens. I single this out because Christo has entered for his first Comrades Marathon and I will be his wing man during this special event. The #Road2Comrades2017 has started and you guys will see us on the road at around 40 official races as we train together in preparation for the big one scheduled for the 4th of June 2017. Together we will take on Comrades 2017 and I trust that we will be blessed with a great race, Christo’s first Comrades and my fourth. Also once again looking forward to share the road on that day with so many other passionate runners from all over – turning ordinary into extraordinary !

This year will be another year of #MakingMilesAndMomentsCount and I cannot wait to share it with you all; lots of races, loads of early mornings, traveling, hundreds of traveling and running kilometers and off course lots and lots of photos !

People, as per my previous post, I hope it will be a year of growing, evolving, taking on of new challenges and pushing on to make dreams come true. Always remember this – this means we will have to make mistakes, we have to fail sometimes so we can succeed later. Don’t be afraid to try new things, don’t be afraid of challenging yourself and don’t be afraid of making mistakes, because this will make the difference between staying where you are and rising from above the rest.

Here is to wish everyone a blessed 2017 !

Visit [ http://myownjourney.co.za ] to link with me form there on all social media platforms

Athens Authentic Marathon : DONE !

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Here is a quick look back to my 2016 Athens Authentic Marathon. Funny I use the word “quick” in a post about a marathon I did. Ha ha ha.

Anyway, running this race was such a blessing, a trip back into history, 120 years back into history to be precise. Sometimes during the build up to Athens 2016 I sometimes could not believe I was actually going to run it.

According to organizers interest in “Athens Marathon. The Authentic” was again high this year with around 50,000 runners expected to participate in all of the events’ races over a range of distances. But my focus, and the focus of around 17,000 other runners, was on the premier event, the international officially measured marathon (42.195 km) scheduled for Sunday morning, the 13th of November at 09.00am when all of us were going to follow the footsteps of the legendary Pheidippides from the town of Marathon to the finish line at the 1896 Olympic Stadium, also known as the Panathenaic Stadium also known as Kallimarmaro. Like I mentioned, this year marked , celebrated, 120 years since the first Modern Olympic Games of 1896 and the first ever Olympic marathon finished in the same stadium where we were going to finish and we were going to be part of it.

First thing Pieter and I did after checking at the YES! New Hotel in Athens was to find our way to the Athens Marathon EXPO & Registration Centre, which is hosted in the Faliro Indoor Hall & Exhibition Centre of Athens. We found other runners on the tram and together we found our way to the registration centre. Picking up our bib numbers, timing chips, and race packages was quick and efficient and the expo was really huge. We decided to make the most of it and walked through the whole expo, twice. I had to go back to by the 120 year souvenir and limited edition t-shirt. I only decided I wanted it when we were already at the exit.

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Saturday was just a day of lying low, we did some exploring close to the hotel and the rest of the day was really just focusing on the task at hand, to get the most out of this amazing opportunity to run one of the most sought after marathons in the world, and not only that, also the only “authentic” marathon in the world, measured at 42.195km. Well, I managed to do it in 42.74km. Ha ha ha. They just never work out quite right so they ?

Race day. 13 November 2016. Our hotel was located literally just around the corner from one of the bus pick up points at Syntagma Metro Station, line 2 & 3. Getting there took us minutes by foot and the whole process there was so well organised and handled to the point, the best I have seen actually at any race. About an hour later we arrived in the village of Marathon and had ample of time to soak in the whole vibe of this iconic event. We were able to also take some great pictures before the race and one specific highlight is the pictures we took at the Marathon Flame Tower and another with our South African flag that was also hoisted along with the flags of all other participating countries.

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Just to interrupt myself for a minute. You guys might know that I have decided to sit out on the Kaapsehoop marathon on the 5th of November, just before we left for Athens. That was a really tough decision for me because I love Kaapsehoop and it was also my first marathon ever, but when I stood there at the starting line of the Athens Authentic, I knew that that was the right decision. The rib injury I suffered two weeks before we left was still very present and the pain was still there, intense but bearable. I was still worried about the marathon and how the day was going to play out, but I was determined to ride this wave to the very end, no matter what. I was determined to start and finish this race, no matter what.

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We started in batches and the first group of elite runners started at 09.00, sharp. After them the groups were moved forward and started in groups one after the other. I have to say what really stood out for me was that there was no pushing of shuffling or people trying to push in because they were late – the typical South African race start scene was not present. Everyone waited, patiently, for their turn. Maybe it is because the race was a mat to mat and not gun to gun event, but still. It is really nice to start like this where everyone is just calm and disciplined, enjoying the moment.

From the village of Marathon the route replicated the route followed by Pheidippides to announce the victory of Athens in the Battle of Marathon.

From the start we headed south for around 17 kilometers, offering a rather flat profile with little graduate climbing here and there, and then we turned in a western direction where the serious climbing started – not too steep but steep enough to test and try the legs. The first descent only starts at around between 32km and 35km and then we entered the valley where the city of Athens is located in front of us.From there the run was easy and rather effortless.

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The spectators along the route were amazing. We passed through various small villages and eventually suburbs of Athens until we reached the city of Athens, and one word echoed through the air all the time, “Bravo”. It is my guess that Phinnepeades carried an olive branch with him when he did this route because the locals came out in their numbers to hand out olive branches to the runners to carry with them to Athens. It was a lovely touch and yes, I carried mine all the way to the end and I am glad I did. It even shows on my pictures.

Along the route water stations were very frequent but boy, did they waste water. Unlike at the races we do where they hand out cachets, we were given bottled water and one can only drink so much water, so the rest goes to waste. Obviously they do not have problems with water like we do and every time I had to throw a bottle of water away I thought of SA and how much we need that water. Anyway, when in Rome do as the Romans do I guess ( in this case, when in Greece… ) so I had to make peace with that. I have to add to this though that I have read that they were going to recycle an estimate of around 25,000 kg of plastic, so not all that dim and grim I guess.

Friends, the whole race was amazing, from beginning to end, but nothing could prepare me for the moment when I made that left turn towards the Panathenaic Stadium and saw the banner that said, “250m to go!” and then the full view of the stadium was suddenly in front of me and I knew, “Athens Marathon – The Authentic was done and dusted! I crossed the finish line at 04.34.01. Happy. No, ecstatic, grateful and really blessed ! When I threw my arms in the air I saw the olive branch I carried all the way with me and this is when I welled up. Yah I am a softy, sucker for “a moment”. I suddenly missed my mom and wondered what she would think of me, doing all this; me changing my life, losing all the weight, started to run, marathons, ultra-marathons, Comrades, international marathons ( this was my third one ) and now, the one and only authentic marathon in the world where it all started 120 years ago, the Athens Marathon. I think she would be proud of me.

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The moment I’ve been waiting for, entering The Panathenaic Stadium, Athens

Looking at that medal in my hand, the medal I have been dreaming of since I started to plan this trip, was suddenly lying in the palm of my hand. Mission accomplished.

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Pieter and I both had good runs ( he did 04.14.39 ) We were 44 South Africans on the starting list, 32 finished the race. Pieter finished in 13th place out of the group and grabbed the 17th spot. This was definitely not about racing, but rather to have and enjoy the experience. Both of us were going to have better times, but we took a lot of pictures, so that definitely wasted time, but with this event not time was wasted. It was just plain awesome.

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We also extended our time in Greece for another ten days, and believe when I say, the experience was magical. We have seen and done so much and got to be around the most amazing people; they are friendly, helpful and so respectful. Greece is a stunning country, disciplined, clean and despite of the challenges they face as a people and as a country, things are still working in so many ways and when I say that I immediately wonder, “What is South Africa’s excuse?”

It will not be fair for me to boast about this wonderful even without thanking the people who made this possible. I want to give a BIG shout out and thank you to Discovery Vitality for making this trip to Athens possible. If it was not for me winning the #MyVitalityPB competition, none of this was going to be possible. I had six months in which to make use of the prize, and when I saw that the Athens Marathon was on, that instantly convinced me not to let this opportunity pass, and we entered, and then booked the trip around those dates. To Discovery Vitality, “Efcharistó polý” ( Thank you very much )

Everyone ask me, “Will you go back?” The answer to that question is easy, “…next year this time you will ten to one be reading my review on my second Athens Authentic Marathon” So YES, I want to go back and not only that, I intend to take a few friends ( specially running friends ) with. This is a MUST RUN marathon !

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