Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Run For It!

The day dawned bright and clear. At 8.00am it was 16ºC and we ate our meusli and chopped fruit with keen anticipation. Today (Sunday 2nd November) would be the second time that we'd run the "Rhodes For LIfe" charity event, which was taking place for the 5th time, setting out from the Town Hall Square in Rhodes Town.

This event began in November of 2010 and on the first occasion around 2,500 people took part. Last year, 2013, that number had risen to 6,000 and now doubt this year will be even higher. What's it all about? Well the idea right from the outset was to raise cash for the main Andreas Papandreou General Hospital on the island. Can't be bad can it? We'd missed the first three and so last year made sure that we took part and not only did we enjoy the whole thing, it was great to see that so many people on Rhodes are willing to do something like this for a good cause.

Regular readers will know that my late mother-in-law was Greek. She was also a smoker, something which rankled, especially in her later years - and for good reason. She contracted throat cancer and, after several operations over a two-year period, one of which even resulted in one of her ribs being used to reconstruct half her lower jaw, which had to be removed owing to the fact that the cancer has entered the bone, she died at the age of 57. It was a tragedy and even now, thirty plus years later we sadly miss her vivacity and positivity. This year's event was run specifically in aid of the fight against cancer of the larynx, so you'll understand why it was something we were surely not going to miss.

The Town Hall square, by 10.30am, was alive with brightly coloured "Rhodes For Life" T-shirts as the rock band on the Town Hall steps gave way to a half-hour warm-up session to get the participants limbered up for the start. The announcer on the mic said "We'll do a warm-up now, ready for a prompt 11.00am start!" It was 24ºC.

The beloved warms herself up for the "off"
So, at ten past eleven GMT (you're not going to tell me you don't know what that stands for!) the event started with a bang. It did, literally, because they use an actual starter's pistol to start the stampede of eager runners at the front as they take off at a pace down Mandraki Harbour. Following the serious runners there are the ones who try and jog to fight the flab, like us two for example, then comes the hoarde of walkers, some pushing baby strollers with up to three infants in front, some in wheelchairs, some pushing wheelchairs and some just doing the whole thing as a walk to show their support for the worthy cause. 

The route takes us all the way along Mandraki Harbour, then goes right at the end of the New Market and round behind the Taxi rank and into the moat. We follow the entire moat until we reach the South-Eastern-most tip of the Old Town where we're directed into the Old Town via the Akandia Gate. Threading our way through the Old Town we exit via the Eleutherias Gate and then trot back along the length of Mandraki again to the finish, where there are a couple of crowd barriers set up to channel the finishers through to a rosusing round of applause from people lining both sides.

Yours truly almost there, behind this girl, who looks far too happy and relaxed for my liking.

I put on a bit of a sprint to the finish. May have been a mistake...
The dearly-beloved is just visible behind the head of that fella on the left. Photos courtesy of of course.

Running it took us about half an hour. I'd estimate we finished about the five hundred mark, probably about two thirds of the way down the "runners" and obviously still a way ahead of the walkers. But we felt mighty proud of ourselves as we beat a hasty retreat to under the arches of the Prefecture Building to do our warm-down stretches. You gotta take those seriously if you don't want some seriously aching limbs later in the day. At my age you do anyway!

All the way around we were dreaming of that iced coffee we were going to down as soon as we finished. Trouble was, all the cafés down the length of the harbour were packed to the gills. We did find a table at the Courthouse café, where we sat for fifteen minutes waiting in vain for a waiter/waitress to find us.That's where the better half snapped this...

Having failed, though, to attract the attention of the overworked staff there we took off and decamped to the Yachting Club Café at the bottom end of the harbour, where we tucked in to a couple of spinach pies and the regulation frappé of course...

The café was heaving, but, since we were sat on the periphery it looks from this photo above like we are all on our lonesomes, but if you'd been sitting where we were the vista was quite different.

We were studying all the Greeks that were having their "volta" [outing] for a Sunday morning with some fascination. A sizeable number of them, like ourselves of course, had done the Rhodes For LIfe event and were sporting the yellow t-shirts. Even those, though, were oozing style and taste. We found ourselves comparing the clientele in this Rhodean café of a Sunday morning with those whom we used to encounter in the pavement cafés in my mum's old hometown in deepest Somerset, UK, or in the area where we last lived in South Wales before we moved to Rhodes.

Greeks, like their counterparts in France, Italy and Spain, tend to display a clear evidence of good taste when it comes to what they wear when out and about. OK, so the climate is very different here, and no time is that more evident than during the month of November, when here on Rhodes the daytime temperatures are in the mid-twenties C and the skies are often a deep blue.  Here we were watching Greeks of varous ages, shapes and sizes, although the majority were far from obese, all the women dressed in smart casual clothing that made them look like they'd all been on that old UK TV show with Trinny and Suzanna - "What Not to Wear" and had a makeover. Except, of course, they hadn't. You could have populated a half-decent beauty pageant with the girls and women who were sitting around with their frappés or Freduccinos and the fellas could have just walked off the photoshoot for a smart clothing catalogue. Whenever we would sit outside in the UK the apparel of many of those around us tended to be track suits and the ubiquitous trainers. By far the majority would be overweight too. I'd like to have illustrated this contrast with a few more photos, but didn't want to risk getting arrested!

Here the locals were all drinking coffee accompanied by a glass of water. You can spot the Brits a mile off in a Greek café during a morning by the fact that they're on the lager when the locals are drinking Elliniko, hot coffee or a frappé.

The fact is, it's a very pleasant experience to be sitting outside in a Greek Café sipping a iced coffee in warm sunshine in early November. It's one of the better reasons for being here, we so didn't like November back in the UK. Here's another too...

On the way home I took a detour into Faliraki, somewhere we just never usually go, but owing to someone having asked me if I could maybe chuck in a pic or two of such places off season, I drove down club street to the beach, leapt from the vehicle and ran to the back of the beach and snapped these...

As you know, I'm selfless to the last. Anything for my adoring public (!!??***) ...


  1. John. We were at home on Sunday.How come you didnt visit

    1. Trev, perhaps you missed where I wrote that I "...leapt from the vehicle and ran to the back of the beach". I didn't even turn off the engine, we were that short of time as we had to go out in the evening.