It’s early evening at the Athenian hostel. I’m mingling with some newfound friends; many of whom went on the walking tour in the morning. Every time Andrew (the tour guide) takes people by the Παναθηναικό Στάδιο (Panathenaic Stadium), he’s sure to mention the guard leaves at night. He also mentions in his charming way that a lot of backpackers like to sneak in and run around the track naked…because it’s an Olympic stadium after all. The seed was planted.
We went out to get gyros, brought them back to the hostel, and mingled some more while we discussed our plans for the evening. As usual for a bunch of backpackers, there is no plan.
We head down to the ‘sports bar’ for our free ouzo shots…and a few drinks we pay for of course. It’s all right, but there’s a soccer (football for Europeans) match on; some sort of championship. As it gets crowded, we decide to move on.
The next stop is a cozy little bar down the road. I along with about half the group get the wine with honey (which has become one a favorite). We drink and chat for a bit…. Our free shots come. A Kiwi (New Zealander for those that are unfamiliar) I just met doesn’t want his, and he agrees to give me his if I’ll run around the track naked with him. It’s an extra free shot so I have to agree. That makes two of us that are now locked in.
We hit up a shop and grab a few drinks on our way back to the hostel. Someone has cards, and it’s time for drinking games. We play King’s Cup. I lose, and have to drink the cup which is filled with a mix of wine and several brands of beer. It’s so nasty, but at least I’m not the only one that’s drunk by now.
One of the chicks has been complaining all night long about no wanting to run around the track naked. We tell her it’s naked or she can’t come with us at all. Six of us decide we’re going to go. We tell the other six-ish they’re pansies, but it has no effect.
We’re down to 4 guys and 2 chicks. We hit up another store for more alcohol on en route to the stadium. This is Greece so no one cares if you walk down the street inebriated with a drink in your hand…as long as you’re not bothering anyone. We manage to finish off a few more drinks before we get to our destination.
It’s almost midnight, and the daytime guard is definitely gone. The Kiwi immediately jumps in and starts undressing. Not to be done up, I follow. We start running around the track naked…but where’s everyone else? Those pansies; we’re going to be around the track before they even start. Oh well, that just means I’ll have time to enjoy watching them.
We get back to the winner’s podium, and start putting our cloths back on. It’s cold (10 Celsius) and drizzling. A voice at the entrance rings out, “Get out”! Oh shit, it’s a guy in dark cloths so probably a cop. The Kiwi asks me if we should run. I say yes. We quickly get the rest of our cloths on and head for the nearest ‘wooded’ (there are a couple trees to ‘hide’ behind) area. The guard didn’t follow; or even move from the spot where he’d yelled at us from what I could tell. We’re safe.
We start making our way back along a route we think the authority figure won’t take. Our friends catch up to us. “Where were you pansies?” It seems they’d taken the time to look around, and saw the cop car sitting on the road near the stadium. They tell us they’d tried to distract him with questions about how often this sort of thing happens, but he was pissed and wouldn’t answer them.
Only two of us made it. Bonus: the rest are jealous! I still would have rather all of us had gone, but at least I get the admiration of my peers as a consolation prize.
We make our way back to the hostel, and turn in for the night. It’s been a good day.
And that’s my story of the naked quarter mile. A couple tips if you’re in Athens and manage to get a few friends drunk enough to try it.
- Definitely wait until it’s dark. There’s a guard there during the day that takes money for people wanting to enter the stadium, and take pictures from the inside.
- Look around before jumping in. The city occasionally sends a cop in a car to check on the stadium. I don’t think he’s there all the time so just wait him out if he’s there. Then you can ‘take your time’ running.
Feel free to share your crazy stories in the comments. I’m sure I’m not the only traveler with crazy tales to tell.