Marathoner Evan Chee’s Tour de Europe

21 Nov 2018 – While most of us have always imagined an ideal Europe road trip to be driving a caravan through the winding Alps and French countryside, or a shop(eat)-till-you-drop magical experience on the streets of London and Madrid, Evan is not like most of us.

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The 38-year old marathoner had always dreamed of racing a half marathon in Europe and the IAAF gold label, AIMS-certified Valencia Half-Marathon checked all the boxes. It was known to be a fast and flat course (world records were set here before), and the cooling conditions in late October meant the race’s schedule fitted perfectly into Evan’s overall preparation for Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 6 weeks later.

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Valencia Half-Marathon 2018

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Evan arrived in Valencia, also known as the city of running, after 24 hours of non-stop traveling and made it to one of the biggest race expos he has seen. The actual race kicked off at 9am on a cool Sunday morning. With temperatures hovering between 10 to 15 degrees, conditions couldn’t have been better along with the electrifying crowd support lined up along both sides of the race route and excellent race organization.

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In the end, Kenya’s Abraham Kiptum broke the Men’s Half-Marathon world record clocking 58:18 to take five seconds off the mark set by Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese in 2010. Evan would go on to clock 1:19 for a personal best and finishing in 94th place and 2nd Asian runner. While Evan had gone into the race with higher expectations, it was still a timely confidence booster after spending most of 2018 nursing a niggling leg injury which had hampered his training.

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‘THE’ Marathon

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2 weeks later, Evan would go on to run another epic European race, the Athens Classic Marathon, the birthplace of all modern-day Marathons. While it is an IAAF gold label race today, the race’s heritage and history stretch all the way back to 490BC. The Athens Marathon traces the same route that the legendary Greek messenger, Pheidippides, ran from the Battle of Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek’s victory over the Persians!

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Runners from around the world gather at Adidas Runbase in Athens

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As part of the pre-race lead-up, Evan had a rare opportunity to visit Adidas Runbase in Athens and meet like-minded Adidas Runners (AR) from all around the world (including Paris, London, Vienna, Dubai, Madrid, and Milan). Runbase is a 6-story facility catered for AR with running and all sorts of fitness sessions taking place almost daily!

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Group shot with Adidas Runners in front of the Acropolis

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Together, they would all participate in a shake-out sightseeing run organized by AR Athens to showcase the best of Athens sights and sounds, ending with a group shot taken in front of the Acropolis and a pasta party right after!

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Athens Classic Marathon 2018

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The Athens Classic Marathon counts as one of the most difficult major marathon race with a nearly 20km-long uphill climb, which dwarves the SCSM Sheares Bridge climb at the 37km mark. The course begins in the town of Marathon before passing by the tomb of Athenian soldiers, turning towards the city of Athens before finishing up at the Panathinaiko Stadium. The stadium is a landmark site for athletics competition in ancient times, and also where the 1896 and 2004 Olympics Marathon chose as its finishing point.

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xIn a fitting tribute to the race and area’s history, it has become a standard practice before every year’s race to carry the Marathon Flame, which is lit at the Tomb of the Battle of Marathon, to the finish point at the Stadium.

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Right from the start, Evan planned to maintain a comfortable long run pace as he tackled the seemingly endless uphills and slopes. After crossing the halfway mark in 1:30:30 as planned, Evan knew the race had only just begun with another 10km of slopes to go in what was proving to be a much more challenging route than SCSM. The Greek messenger, Pheidippides, couldn’t have been happier than Evan when he caught sight of the Stadium finish point, crossing the line in 3:00:50 with an average pace of 4:15′.

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Wrapping up his Europe ‘road trip’, Evan will like to thank everyone from AR Athens, particularly captain Deniz Dimaki, whose efforts helped make all this possible. It was a whirlwind 3 weeks in Europe but it turned out to be an out-of-this-world experience running ‘literally’ from Valencia to Madrid, Barcelona to Santorini before calling it a day in Athens.

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While his legs may feel like they’re running on empty (for the next couple days), but his heart is definitely full. Be sure to check in with Evan as he lines up for the biggest race on Singapore’s running calendar – the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon!

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