I don't have personal experience having never used a company, however speaking to a couple of Brits who ran Athens last November using one of the big firms, I wouldn't touch them with a barge-pole. They didn't receive the service that they thought they had paid for - no meet and greet at the airport, no-one at the hotel to talk through the schedule of events, and nobody to approach if anything went wrong. The premium they paid effectively gave them times and tickets for the connections between airport and hotel.
The ballot opens on 24th April, so I'm giving that a go. If successful in that, I'm sure I can sort out the rest myself.
Well done the pair of you for the fantastic times you posted. This was much tougher than I had imagined. The long drag uphill from mile 11 to 19.5 took more out of me than I thought, and the plan to 'coast' in for the last 6 miles just didn't happen. Finished in 4:01:33 which with hindsight I'm pleased with, despite passing the halfway mark in 1:54 (slightly ahead of schedule). Agree 100% with the comment re the organisation. Our farcical journey from airport to city centre on Friday evening caused some concerns about their infrastructure, but the arrangements on Sunday were top notch.
It's an absolute must-do race in my opinion. The whole event was so steeped in history and finishing in that magnificent stadium was so awesome that I'm not afraid to say I had a little sob to myself after I crossed the line.
Aside from the race the two days sightseeing in Athens was simply not enough. The Acroplis was amazing, the Temple of Zeus was immense, and the Panathenaic Stadium tour was probably the most interesting two hours I've had in recent years.
I have a feeling I'll do it again, but I'll make sure I increase my hill-training before the event....
The Manchester flight on Friday lands at 19:05 so I'll be registering on Saturday morning. Coming across with the good lady and a couple of friends (non-runners), and not flying back until Tuesday. Holding off the sightseeing until Monday, trying to have a relaxing day on Saturday. Will probably walk to the stadium so Mrs F knows where she's going on Sunday, 10am may be a bit early for us though.
Martin, we're booked into the Wilmslow Exec lounge at Manchester. I'll catch up with you at the gate.