Up Group had two runners lined up for the authentic Marathon last weekend. They were crazy enough to run their first marathon ever… in Athens!
They were nice enough to answer a few questions from us.
Let’s Meet the beasts
I am Xavier and I have been working for Up for over 20 years!
I am in charge of our IT testing platform and product certification. I only started running 5 years ago, having already completed several half marathons (Lisbon, Tel Aviv, Marrakech, Paris, etc.).
I am Jose. I am a project manager at Up Group, with a love story for our Greek subsidiary: I was in charge of the project for the go for EAT card along with the Up Hellas team. It was then and there, when I visited Athens that I decided to run the Marathon.
José Martins Torres
Guys, Athens, for your first marathon? Really?
Xavier: The Athens Marathon is obviously considered the authentic, the first in history. So, starting with this one is obviously very symbolic.
Also, I have to admit that I never visited Athens or Greece in the past… Combining races with discovering new countries is great.
Jose: Xavier, always romanticizing. The truth is a lot simpler: I came back from Athens and just signed us Up 😀
Did you train at all for this?
Xavier: Almost 3 months of preparation based on long runs between 15 and 25 km, and shorter high-intensity sessions. We went out 3 times per week, running about 45 weekly kilometers.
The great side is we decided with Jose to do this together, which helped a lot with the preparation and the motivation.
Jose: Yes, it’s always much easier in a group. We ran about 450 kilometers during this period! It wasn’t always easy, but when finding motivation is always easier when you are not alone.
Let’s talk about the race.
Jose: The course was a real discovery for me!
In the most difficult portions, I had to dig deep, and frankly, I manage to go beyond my limits only with the help of the people along the side of the road (a big thanks to all of them).
Xavier: The course is relatively difficult because it’s steep for almost 20kms (until about km 32). As far as I’m concerned, it was painful, I was getting more and more cramps in my thighs… Nevertheless, I managed to finish, because I just couldn’t give up and I kept hearing Jose saying “Think of something nice that will give you the motivation to finish.” That’s what I did!
The finish line & the emotions
Jose: The main goal was to see the finish line and I did it!
The feeling in the last 500 meters was incredible. There were so many people in the streets cheering, chanting. I could feel the energy around the place, the joy of the other runners knowing that they would finish… I started thinking of my family and my sons; of how I wanted them to be proud of their daddy and bring them back the medal.
When I realized that I had achieved all of that… let’s just say I was very emotional. 😊
Xavier: Τhe end of the marathon was incredible; I was driven by the fans along the road who kept encouraging us. And then… the 250m sign, I finally see the amazing, historic, beautiful… Panathenaic Stadium. There were just so many emotional thoughts going through my mind: the pain was replaced by pride, by happiness. It was just amazing!
And now, I can finally say, with a medal around my neck: What a pleasure it is to have managed to surpass myself: I did it.