How I raced against myself and time in Thessaloniki Half Marathon

The 7th International Night Half Marathon of Thessaloniki took place on Saturday 13 of October, 2018. The organisation is the only one of its kind in Greece and includes two races. Besides the Half Marathon distance (21.095m) you can also participate in the shorter 5.000m race. Before I’ll start with depth analysis of my performance, it’s very important to look back in time and explain how this idea came to my mind.

Half Marathon Dudes
with Christian Cibba (team Balkan Heart)


Everything started back in February of this year. Since that time I knew that I will participate in this EVS project here in Greece. So my first natural reaction, besides the fact that I was very happy, was to search for interesting events that take place in Thessaloniki.

One interesting event was the Night Half Marathon. I was excited about it immediately and took it as my primary goal for my first month in Greece. I love sport in general, but running has its special place in the hierarchy of my favourite sports.

My running “career”

I started to run on a regular basis back in 2015. Since that time I’ve participated in many road races (5K, 10K, 12K, Half Marathon), trail runs (12K, 26K) and I’ve also fulfilled my dream and accomplished the whole marathon distance in Košice 2016 (SVK, The Europe’s Oldest Marathon). I consider my most ambitious running project to be the 12 hour endurance race on the roof of Slovak National Radio building (56km).


Due to my previous experience, I knew exactly how to prepare. I know what works best for me. My training “plan” was built on alternating long (from 10 to 18km, slower steady pace) and short runs (5 to 8km, faster pace). The long runs were also a great opportunity for city explorations. I’ve visited many places but most of the time I’ve spent on the seaside (very popular also among locals).

The next very important part of the training was regeneration between runs. This was kind of problematic in my case, because in the first days of my stay, I was intensively exploring the nightlife and all the pleasures that Thessaloniki provides. Due to that, my sleeping regime was pretty weak. But fortunately, I was able to manage the situation and find a balance between these two worlds.

Half Marathon course
Course (2 laps ahead of us)

Half Marathon 

Finally the D-Day has come. After one month of “systematic” training, I’m ready to stand on the start line. Full of confidence and prepared to do my best. Together with me is competing Christian (a.k.a. αφεντικό), for whom it’s the first half marathon ever. Team Balkan Heart is ready.

The start of the race is cleverly planned with the start of the sunset (18:45, local time). The weather is perfect, the course is flat, the atmosphere is awesome  – ideal conditions for breaking some records. My goals were clear – run it under 2 hours and try to improve my personal best (1:56:39).


Very simple. Trying to keep the pace around 5:30 min/km in the first 10km and after that milestone the real race starts. In other words, survive the first lap and what will happen next is in the stars.

Another useful tips to follow:

  1. Don’t run like an idiot (too fast after the start) with other super over-motivated people around. Just run your own race.
  2. Find your rhythm, which means, find someone who has the same or a similar pace to you and follow him/her.
  3. Focus your mind on something else beside running. In my case, I’m following the road markings (lines).
  4. Control your breathing.
  5. Calculate your strengths and time your finish perfectly.
  6. Have fun!


Since I was able to manage everything mentioned above, the race was total success for me. No crisis, a steady pace and the new personal best as a bonus (1:56:29) #hardworkpaysoff

Half Marathoner
Happy finisher 🙂

The evening full of endorphins ended in the best possible way. Together with the rest of the Balkan Heart team (people, who ran 5K), we celebrated our success by falafel, crepes and beer. It’s important to reward yourself after hard work 😉

Half Marathoner + 5K
Balkan Heart team

Words at the end

If you’ve participated in this lovely sport event or if you just love running and discussing it, you can share your thoughts and experience in the comment section below.

Also, if you prefer ultra-distance running you can read one of our previous articles – the Interview with ultra-marathoner.

Long live the run!

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Post Author: Martin Naništa

Charismatic guy from Slovakia. Incorrect humour included. In love with cycling, hiking, books and freedom. #radioteam #graphics #runner #creative

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