Dissica Tomaz Calderaro never intended to run Athens Classic Marathon. He’d trained all year for New York - and the last minute change led to the run of his life.
The Brazilian had unfinished business in New York. A knee injury one month before the 2011 New York Marathon badly affected his performance. Determined not to have 6 hours engraved on his medal, he finished in 5:59:22 in agony.
Knee surgery in February allowed him to time his training to peak for New York again this year and all went to plan with trainer Prof. Marcio Soares. - apart from Hurricane Sandy.
Soon after the hurricane, Dissica flew to New York with his family and his running mate Fabricio Silva Lima. They collected their race packs, posed for photos with their running shirts and bibs – and were then devastated by news that the race had been cancelled.
Dissica was heartbroken. His stepmother suggested he look for other marathons but nothing appealed. The next day he looked again and reconsidered Athens which was to be the following Sunday.
“I thought that is where everything started 2500 years ago. That is the place that I wanted to go.”
Dissica called the Athens marathon office from New York, explained his predicament and asked for two entries. Within minutes he and Fabricio were in, subject to proof of their status from FETRIAM, the Amazon Triathlon Federation they belonged to.
'Hearing this news, Federation president Antônio Dias Neto decided to join them and last minute arrangements were made for flights from New York, to Brazil to Athens
The trio arrived on Friday, collected their race packs from the historic Zappeion and spent Saturday site-seeing in Athens. They took a Segway tour to conserve their energy.
Race day, said Dissica, “was amazing”.
“It was one of the toughest courses I have ever done – the 21km ascending from 10km-31km was hell. Then the descending almost hurt more. Going into the stadium, I heard the announcer saying ‘Brazil’. I was so proud that we did it. I will never forget it.”
The men were also moved by the support from Greek spectators.
Dissica’s time was 4:58:47 and the Brazilian trio finished victoriously together. They returned to the Panathinaikon Stadium the next day to relive the glory before heading home.
Next year Dissica will return to New York.
“I still have to do that,” he says.