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J129 - Monday, February 22: Karatoulas – Stavrodromi

64.51km – 9H55’
Altitude : 577m

Passing through Olympia…

This morning it took us some time to pierce this famous blister, and then Serge limped off.  Yesterday evening, René and Daniel worked on the soles of his shoes trying to find the best way to relieve pressure from the spot.  The day goes from pain to pain, at each step, not that it is serious but just in a bad spot and our short trip to Olympia did not change anything.
Ancient Olympia, the illustrious site of the Olympic Games, is a small city where everything centers on the tourist trade, which is very slow at this time of year.
The ancient Olympic Games, which consisted of races, gymnastic events, horse races and artistic contests, were founded in Greece in 796 BC.  At that time, the games ware closely linked to religion and Olympia was a sanctuary, not a city.  This sanctuary housed an altar to Zeus and it is under his aegis that the games took place in the stadium which is surrounded by a sacred forest of olive trees.  Since the modern Olympic Games started in 1896, under the impetus of the Baron Pierre de Coubertin (1924 for the winter Olympic Games), the Olympic flame is always lit at this site, even if the nature of the games has changed considerably.
We follow our route and since Serge allows himself 9 hours 30 minutes of race we estimate that will be about 60km today.  We locate a place to camp at exactly 60 km but a bit further on there is a residential hotel with an apartment that will sleep 4.
This lodging is at km 64 so Serge continues his stage a little longer than planned.  Night falls and it starts to rain so we are not sorry to have a roof over our head tonight.
Today the mountainous scenery is magnificent, even without sunshine.  There is a succession of valleys and villages and the many chapels along the second part of this stage are very much alike.
In this residential hotel, we meet a doctor who is finishing medical school.  In 3 months he will receive his degree, after 6 years of study and 10 months of practice in rural districts.  We learn that every medical student must finish his studies with a period of probation in these rather remote places.  The medical center of the district is open around the clock and takes care of 40 surrounding villages.  The nearest hospital is in Tripoli, about 75 km from here.
Tomorrow we will head toward Tripoli.
We send our thanks to Julie, who made Serge’s orthotic insoles, and to Dr. Roattino for their advice on what to do for the blister.  This evening we are glad to see that it has not reappeared so now we just have to wait for it to heal.

Town : Stavrodromi (Peloponnèse)

GPS : N37.70288° E021.94559°