Friday April 10
Sites Visited: Nemea (Panhellenic Sanctuary), Mycenae (Bronze Age citadel)
Where did we stay tonight?: Nafplio
Leaders: Kait Barber and Joe Indvik
Breaking news from the Entertaining Sports of the Peloponnese Network:
Earlier today, in a photo finish of Phelpsian magnitude, Jason Spellmire overcame the competition to become Dartmouth’s first Nemean Games gold medalist! Despite some flailing footwork at the culmination of the race, he managed to sail to victory on Zeus’ winds before face-planting in the hallowed soil of Nemea (see video). The joy was evident upon Spellmire’s face as a wreath of celery was awarded to him shortly thereafter. As there is no second place in Greek athletics, the losers (some of them clad in sandals, jeans, or both) were left to hang their heads in shame. Our viewers will be happy to hear that the competition was not completely authentic, however: The Greeks would have run completely naked. As this may have upset the nearby group of elderly German tourists, clothing was retained. Our reporters spoke with Spellmire just seconds after his historic victory:
Spellmire: *Heavy breathing*
ESPN: You just upset some of the world’s greatest competitors in a come-from-behind, underdog victory. How do you feel?
Spellmire: You know, Joe, I feel great. I feel great. Everyone ran a great race today. In the end, it just came down to who wanted it more.
ESPN: How did it feel to compete on such a hallowed field, where centuries of Greece’s greatest athletes have striven for glory?
Spellmire: Hollow?! This track is hollow? What are you trying to pull?
ESPN: Nevermind. What’s that you’re holding?
Spellmire: What, you mean this 24-karat solid gold donkey trophy? That’s right, that’s what I’m holdin’.
ESPN: *blank stare* That’s…uh…that’s plastic, Jason.
Spellmire: Hey, this is my moment and I won’t let you take this away from me!
ESPN: What was with the face-plant at the end there?
Spellmire: Face-plant?! Whachu talkin’ ‘bout? That was the patented Spellmire Finish Line Dive!
ESPN: Of course. So what’s next for you? Would you be willing to go completely…*ahem*…authentic in your next race?
Spellmire: I’m not ashamed of anything. Whatever, I don’t care! I’m going to Disney World!
ESPN: Anything you would like to say to your fans?
Spellmire: This train hasn’t stopped yet!
ESPN: Thanks for your time.
A full synopsis of the day:
Following an early wake-up this morning, we headed to Nemea in the Peloponnese. We received an introductory lecture by Stephen Miller, who is widely known as “The Man” when it comes to Nemean studies. During several decades of work on this site, he has supervised the construction of a museum, begun the restoration of the temple of Zeus, and planted trees to better reflect ancient landscaping. He even reconstructed an ancient starting block mechanism called the hysplix, a device designed to allow runners beginning on time to pass freely while tripping those who started too soon. After a tour of the temple currently under restoration, we headed to the ancient running track to stage our own race (more on that later). In the afternoon we headed over to Mycenae, the legendary palace of Agamemnon. It is a highly fortified hilltop, and all visitors must pass through the Lion’s Gate to enter. The Lion’s Gate is a massive doorway which has been standing and visible for thousands of years. We walked through the remains of the palace down into an ancient cistern, for which some of us had to break out the headlamps. Not very fashionable, but effective. After this, we stopped at the museum for a quick look at some artifacts before checking out the nearby tholos tombs. The Treasury of Atreus, the biggest of the tombs, was incredibly large and impressive. It was used by Mycenaean elites. Finally, we completely confused all the other tour groups by climbing atop the tomb and making triangles for a group picture.
The starting line:
To the victor go the spoils!
Tholos tomb geek-out: