Spartan Legend takes on Melbourne ... head on
Manny Karageorgiou turned 58 in June and has spent the past four months having chemotherapy treatment for multiple myeloma - a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. In three weeks time he will undergo a stem cell operation.
But before he does that he will run a marathon on Sunday.
It will be his 37th consecutive Melbourne Marathon, a streak that he hopes to keep alive so that he remains one of just 10 Spartan Legends to have run every race since the first Big M Melbourne Marathon in 1978.
The Legends are a passionate lot, but this one will carry extra significance for Karageorgiou, who is the youngest member of the clan, and is second from the left in our picture above.
“The chemo’s over now. I had my last does three weeks ago, so we’ve got a window between now and my operation,” he said.
“Initially my doctor laughed at me when I told him I wanted to run the marathon. You’ve been in the equivalent of a car crash, this is the last thing your body needs. He said, ‘Why, would you want to run one when you will jar your body.’
“I explained to him how I run with a Cliffy Young shuffle nowadays not like Usain Bolt, so I won’t be pounding myself. He’s happy for me to do it because he knows how much it means to me … 36 years is a long time to be part of something.”
After Karageorgiou’s most recent treatment, tests revealed a good blood count indicating the cancer was in remission. That meant his oncologist Dr Andrew Spencer gave him a cautious thumbs up for Sunday.
While Karageorgiou has been for plenty of walks since being diagnosed, it is only in the past two weeks that he has been for a couple of 15km runs to get ready.
Last year Karageorgiou was fifth Legend home and broke five hours.
“I certainly can’t see myself doing much better than six hours this year,’’ he said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen this time and if I’m cooked before Fitzroy St, then I’ll stop. I live in Albert Park so I’ll have plenty of family and friends on hand and my son, Pana, is also doing the marathon.
“A few of the Spartan Legends have said they will run with me, but I can’t really run with someone because I don’t know whether I will have to stop and I don’t want to muck them around.
The Legends usually wear distinctive yellow tops, but Karageorgiou said he will don it at the start before taking it off and wearing a normal T-shirt.
“I really need to concentrate and normally what happens is that people pat you on the back when they pass you,’’ he said. “It can be a bit of a distraction and sometimes you can get carried away and lift your pace. I’ve got to be careful.’’
The 10 Spartan Legends share a great bond and several have had serious ailments to contend with in recent years.
John Dobson, 63, cracked some ribs earlier this year and has had several months off running.
Peter Ryan, 66, had open heart surgery to repair a leaking aorta valve just five months before the 2013 race and still managed to get through in just over six hours.
Pete Battrick, the oldest Legend at 71, has had a series of back and neck issues, that restrict him to a slow gait.
Neville Gardiner, 70, had a left hip replacement in May 2011 and still made it through that year.
“We are a very proud lot. Being the youngest of the Legends, it’s makes it very hard because I can’t pull out,’’ Karageorgiou said.
iRun wishes all 10 Legends all the best in their endeavours on Sunday, but particularly Manny this year.