Running: It's all Greek to Rochester's Jensen

The year, 490 B.C.

Red Wing native Tony Jensen, who now lives in Rochester, will be running the Athens Marathon in Greece on Nov. 9.

The year, 490 B.C.

The first battle for democracy was being fought at the Greek village of Marathon. Though overwhelmingly outnumbered by an invading Persian Army, the citizen-soldiers of Athens prevailed.

According to legend, when the battle was won, the Athenian messenger Phidippides ran from a battlefield in Marathon to Athens, crying out "niki'' or victory.

The only trouble is, when Phidippides finished his long run in Athens, he collapsed and died.

Phidippides never saw his name in the history books, but the modern marathon commemorates his feat (feet).


Now, fast forward. The first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896 in Greece. The first official marathon was run on the same route used by Phidippides, and that was the same course used to run the marathon at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics.

The same course is still used today and is very popular; the Athens Marathon attracts more than 35,000 runners from around the world.

Including Tony Jensen, a Red Wing native who now calls Rochester home.

"I always thought it would be cool to run the original marathon course,'' he said. "It's been on my 'bucket list' for awhile.''

He can cross that one off that list on Nov. 9 when the 31st Athens Marathon is run.

Jensen and his wife of two years, Vanessa, leave for Greece four days earlier. He signed up through a tour group which specializes in setting up marathon experiences from various locations throughout the world.

Vanessa was browsing the internet a few months ago when she came across that particular website.

"We finally decided last month to go ahead and do it,'' Jensen said. "Vanessa loves to travel and I love to run. And the timing was perfect for both of us.''


Jensen is a 2008 graduate of Red Wing High School, where he ran both cross country and track. He's always loved to run.

"I moved to Rochester and started to run a few 5 and 10Ks,'' he said. "Then I thought, what the heck, why don't you give something longer a shot.''

He did, the next year completing Grandmas Marathon in 3 hours, 45 minutes.

"It turned out to be a wonderful experience,'' he said. "I was hooked.''

Jensen works at Mayo Clinic in the ER financial department and also attends school at RCTC. The Athens Marathon will be his seventh race at that distance; he has also completed four Grandmas and two Med City races.

"I ran Grandmas last June,'' he said, "so my marathon training base has been with me all summer.''

In the next couple of weeks, Jensen, 26, will continue to study the history of the marathon and just as important, the history of Greece.

"I'm not a history buff per se, but I do like to gain as much knowledge as I can about the places where I'm traveling,'' he said.


"As for the marathon, we will finish at the original Olympic stadium and that's kind of cool. From what I understand, the course is relatively flat. I would like to do a new PR (personal record of 3:45) but if I don't, no big deal.''

Last year the Jensens took a tour of Egypt, because "again, we love to travel and we wanted to see the pyramids.''

After Athens? "I understand there's a marathon continent club for those who finish running a marathon in every continent,'' he said. "I do know there's a marathon run on the Great Wall of China and Vanessa has always wanted to see Easter Island.

"Who knows, we're still young and there's a lot of stuff and marathons out there.''

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