The following is excerpted from a document recently discovered during an archaeological dig near Athens. It appears to be a running log with the name Pheidippides scrawled upon it. I translate it here from the ancient Greek, invoking the Muse as I do so.
August 31, 490 BC:
Sunny, with a little bit of wind. Did my final long run today. Was a bit of a struggle. These new Nike sandals don’t have much arch support. To add to my misery, I got an olive pit stuck in them at about mile 13. On the plus side, these FigShots are just the boost I need during my run.
It’s pretty hard to nail down my pace because my sundial doesn’t have a minute or second hand. But I’m pretty sure I can finish sub-noon.
Still can’t figure out what “BC” means and why we’re counting years backwards.
September 18, 490 BC:
Thank Zeus the tapering is almost over. I’ve got a lot of, uh, excess energy and Penelope says she won’t sleep with me unless I wear a Trojan. But it ruins the mood for me. Those guys are pretty heavy and the armor chafes.
September 22, 490 BC:
Race Day! Big crowd at the start ñ about 10,000 local dudes and boatloads of guys in long white singlets with names like Datis and Artaphernes. There was a lot of confusion, particularly since all the bibs had Greek numerals on them. This seemed to be a big problem for the boat people and they started to act up. There was a lot of jostling going on and it was getting ugly when everyone started running in all different directions, screaming at the top of their lungs. I figured the race had started and headed out.
The course was poorly marked and it didn’t look like they blocked off traffic on the E75. I almost got nailed by one of those chariots with the blades on the wheel hubs. And the aid stations were pathetic. Whose idea was it to hand out fennel juice?
As we got to the hills I noticed I had a pretty big lead on the rest of the field. In fact, I couldn’t see them at all. The coeds from Nea Ionia Women’s College were out in force, but they weren’t nearly as pretty as I had heard they were.
Anyway, my quads were burning pretty bad as I headed down the home stretch into Athens. I was starting to wish I had entered the Persian 200 Meter Dash for the Boats instead. I thought the finish line was at the Parthenon, but then I realized it hadn’t been built yet! (Damn backwards calendar again.) I saw a group of old guys in togas so I sprinted toward them. Running my last tired strides I yelled, “Victory, victory!”
I collapsed from a stomach cramp right at the end (fennel juice and FigShots, not a good combination), but I’m pretty happy with the finish line painting. Those thieves want five tetradrachma for a copy!
Maybe I should pay up. Who else will remember this race after today?