Mykonos Run 10k

As is usual when booking a holiday I usually have a quick look to see whether there are any local races on.  As we were going to Mykonos for a week I was highly doubtful there would be anything on such a small Greek island, but as it happened there was the annual Mykonos Run 10k on the day of our departure.  The slight logistical problem was that the race was scheduled to start at 5pm, whilst my flight was 9.05pm with check in closing an hour before.  There was also an issue in that it was a ‘point to point’ race so had no idea how I would get to the start.  In any case I entered on the basis that I could figure it all out nearer the time.

A couple of days before the event I thought I’d pop to the town hall to just check that my entry was all in order only to find they had no record despite me having paid!  It was all sorted though and lucky I did pop by as I was told that there would be a bus from the main town to the start about an hour before the race but was only given vague directions where the departure point would be.  Either way it was better than walking 4.5 miles in the blazing sun, so logistical issue #1 was sorted.  On the day I went to the meeting point about 20 minutes before the bus was due to depart, but the area was completely deserted, hmmm.  Eventually a few others rocked up, including a local so started to relax a bit, even if we were waiting in a place with no shade.  Thankfully, for the first time ever in a race I was well protected from the sun with Factor 50!  Eventually the bus rocked up at 4.15pm and by 4.25 we were on our way to the start.

I knew the chances of a win were out of the window as the organisers had invited an elite male and female runner from Burundi and (although not knowing it until the finish) as it turned out a runner who had represented Greece in the marathon at the Rio Olympics was also entered.  Beyond that though, it was very much a small event with less than 100 people in the race.  As we waited at the start (which was the front door of the Orthodox monastery), there was a film crew from the local news channel which did interviews of various runners (thankfully I was ignored as I was unknown to them despite deciding to wear my England kit).  We then proceeded to be given a prayer from the minister at the monastery, followed by a photographer and more news reporting.  Then there was a ‘blimp’ taking aerial shots, then interviews of the organisers who then took various selfies and just when it looked like we were about to start the mayor rocked up.  The 5pm start turned into 5.15pm.  All very Greek.

Start - Looking up at the drone.

The organisers then did a very unusual countdown by each shouting a number whilst standing in sequence – not that I knew as my Greek is non-existent and upon the last person shouting out off we went, albeit I was left standing not knowing what on earth was going on!  After a few hundred metres I was around 4th but soon enough once things settled down I moved into second.  Having run part of the course earlier in the week I knew this was not going to be a fast time, despite starting at 110m above sea level and finishing at the sea front.  There was a strong on-shore breeze, the temperature was around 28 degrees with little shade, but also almost continuously up and down throughout, so even though there was a net descent the conditions were not at all conducive to fast running.

After about 1km, the male Burundi runner was already about 30 seconds or so ahead, his pace was just astonishing.  Soon after I was then overtaken into 4th by the female Burundi runner and also a Greek runner.  I latched onto him with relative ease, conscious that I didn’t want to blow a gasket in the heat so early.  This more or less stayed the same over the next 2km, except the leader was now out of sight and as we got to a steeper section my climbing skills were such that I decided to overtake the Greek runner and soon after caught and overtook the Burundi lady.  I promised myself not to make any moves so early in the heat, but as usual I just couldn’t help myself and I felt in control.

As more hills arrived the gap widened between myself and those behind so I was now committed to running by myself for the remainder of the race, assuming I had not gone too fast.  There was a steep climb at 5km and whilst I felt ok until that point my legs were now starting to feel a little on the heavy side.  Whilst the road was meant to be closed in our direction there were lots of mini side roads that were impossible to marshal and soon enough one oncoming car decided to make a kamikaze move to turn in front of me.  I’m guessing he assumed I would stop for some reason but no – he drove into me but thankfully there was virtually no momentum so although his bumper hit my legs and I had to put both of my hands on his bonnet to stay upright no damage was done.  A nearby marshal then started to berate him as I moved off.

The final 4k were mostly downhill, but even then there would be constant short and sharp climbs.  I was now feeling tired from the accumulation of hills and took a look behind but even at that point I knew my position was more or less safe.  The main problem was working my way through town without getting lost and also the amount of sweat running stinging my eyes made it difficult to see where I was going.  The first part of the race was straight forward navigation wise as it was just the same road but the last few km required various twists and turns.  The problem though was that most junctions at best just had a police officer who was often more interested in causing traffic gridlock and less interesting in pointing runners where to go.  Often it required easing off, pointing where I thought I had to run and occasionally shouting.  Some junctions had no-one there at all so sometimes required an educated guess of where to go.  The final 500m was along the sea front running alongside throngs of tourists that required a bit of weaving but I finished the line 2nd in a reasonably respectable 34.34.  The winner finished in 30.19 (!) which is a world class performance in those conditions and I later found out he has run sub 29mins recently.  I managed to beat the Greek Olympic marathoner by 40 seconds and then the Burundi lady finished a further 20 seconds behind.

Final 500m along the sea front weaving through the crowds - can you even spot me?


Finish next to a church

Prize Giving

The time itself was pretty poor, but it doesn’t mean an awful lot because of the conditions.  I’ve actually run quicker than that in training during a tempo session but for an end of holiday run it was a good outing and a bit of an experience.  The problem was that as I was 2nd I had won a trophy and it soon became apparent that the presentation wasn’t due to begin until 7pm, which I suspect in reality may have been later than this.  After explaining that I had to leave for the airport before then the presentation was brought forward but was all a bit chaotic and looked like until the very last minute I was going to have to leave.  However, at 6.40pm the presentation took place and I won what is by far the biggest trophy I think I will ever win, so was well worth the wait!  I then had a 20 minute walk back to the hotel to pick up my luggage and have the worlds quickest shower and a picture with the lovely hotel owner who was delighted someone staying at her hotel had come 2nd, before a 30 minute walk to the airport.  We managed to check in with 25 minutes spare so was fine in the end but even still didn’t leave much in the way of danger time.  By the time I had passed through security it was pretty much a case of immediate boarding so am glad the presentation took place when it did.

Huge trophy and owner of 'Hotel Domna - Petinaros'

All in all a pretty enjoyable experience, albeit a bit chaotic at times but it all sort of came together in the end.  All very Greek!


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