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Monument in Sparta with names of Spartathlon winners
The finisher’s medal
The reverse side of the medal

Spartathlon is a 246-kilometre (153 mi) ultramarathon race held annually in Greece since 1983, between Athens and Sparti, the modern town on the site of ancient Sparta. As opposed to the ahistorical origin story of the marathon, the spartathlon is based on the historical run of Pheidippides, who ran from Athens to Sparta before the Battle of Marathon in a day and a half to seek aid against the Persians. Five Royal Air Force officers attempted the course in 1982 and the competition was started the next year. The winner of the first Spartathlon, Yiannis Kouros, still holds the record for fastest time at 20 hours and 25 minutes.

As the race grew more popular, stringent entry criteria were implemented to ensure participants were fit enough to run the course. The race has 75 checkpoints where race officials disqualify runners who fail to meet time cutoffs or who are too tired to continue.

Contents

OriginEdit

The Spartathlon aims to trace the footsteps of Pheidippides, an Athenian messenger sent to Sparta in 490 BC to seek help against the Persians in the Battle of Marathon. Pheidippides, according to an account by Greek historian Herodotus, arrived in Sparta the day after he departed.[1] Herodotus wrote: "On the occasion of which we speak when Pheidippides was sent by the Athenian generals, and, according to his own account, saw Pan on his journey, he reached Sparta on the very next day after quitting the city of Athens."[2]

Based on this account, John Foden, an officer of the Royal Air Force and a long distance runner, went to Greece in 1982 with four officers to test whether it was possible to cover the nearly 250 kilometres in a day and a half.[2] Three runners were successful in completing the distance: John Foden (37:37), John Scholtens (34:30) and John McCarthy in (39:00).[3] The following year a team of enthusiastic supporters (British, Greek and other nationalities) based at the British Hellenic Chamber of Commerce in Athens and led by Philhellene Michael Callaghan organised the running of the first Open International Spartathlon Race. The event was run under the auspices of SEGAS, the Hellenic Amateur Athletics Association.

RaceEdit

The Spartathlon is usually held around late September. Runners have 36 hours to run 245 kilometres (152 mi), roughly the equivalent of six consecutive marathons, between Athens and Sparti, the site of ancient Sparta. Runners have to deal with the Greek heat in the day, the cold of the night, and the mountainous terrain. There are 75 checkpoints along the way, where runners are disqualified for safety reasons if they fail to meet time cut-offs. Many runners have crews that support them during the race, such as helping them resupply at the checkpoints. Any non-finishers are picked up by a bus taken to Sparti together.[1]

The race begins at 7:00 am, roughly when dawn breaks, at the foot of the Acropolis of Athens, near the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the Agora of Athens.[1] The runners head westwards and the first major checkpoint is at 80 kilometres (50 mi), at the Corinth Canal on the Isthmus of Corinth that connects the Peloponnese to mainland Greece. Runners then proceed to the site of ancient Corinth.[1]

Runners ascend the 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) high Sangas mountain pass on Mount Parthenion, and then descend towards Tegea, which is about 200 kilometres (120 mi) from the start of the race. According to Herodotus, Pheidippides had a vision of Pan at Tegea, in what may be the first recorded case of exercise-induced hallucination. The rest of the race is a 50 kilometres (31 mi) downhill segment to the town of Sparti.[1]

The end of the race is a statue of Leonidas I, the Spartan king who died at the Battle of Thermopylae fighting the Persians ten years after Marathon, which is placed at the end of the main street in Sparti. Runners who finish the race receive a laurel wreath and water from schoolgirls dressed in chitons, and have access to medical tents. The national anthem of the winner is also played.[1]

No monetary award is given to any of the finishers, but winning the race is considered prestigious and generates publicity that is helpful in attracting sponsors. Unlike Pheidippides, none of the runners have to make the return run back to Athens.[1]

Entry requirementsEdit

In order to run in this race an individual must have recently performed at least one of a number of qualifying feats, such as:

  • Finishing a race of at least 100 km (62 mi) in less than 10 hours (male) or 10 hours 30 minutes (female).
  • Competing in an event of more than 200 km (120 mi) and completing it in less than 29 hours (male) or 30 hours (female).
  • Competing in Spartathlon within the two previous years and overcoming the mountain to reach the Nestani checkpoint at 172 km (107 mi) in less than 24 hours 30 minutes.

The criteria have been tightened at least once in the past due to an increase in the number of qualifying athletes and there is now a ballot where the event is oversubscribed; however, elite athletes who can exceed the criteria by 20% are able to avoid the ballot and qualify automatically. Entries are now capped at 400 each year with non-automatic qualifiers chosen through a lottery system.

RecordsEdit

Yiannis Kouros, who won the first Spartathlon, still holds the record time at 20:25:00. Kouros competed in four Spartathlons, won all four and holds the four fastest times ever recorded. In 2005, he decided to trace the steps of Pheidippides completely and ran—out of competition—the Athens–Sparta–Athens distance.

Hubert Karl of Germany and András Lőw hold the record for most finishes with 20 each. Lőw also holds the record for consecutive finishes with 18.

In 2017, the 35th anniversary competition had a record 264 finishers under the 36-hour cut-off time.

Following are the winners of the Spartathlon:

MenEdit

Time = hours:minutes:seconds

Year 1st Nationality Time 2nd Nationality Time 3rd Nationality Time
2017 Aleksandr Sorokin   Lithuania 22:04:04 Radek Brunner   Czech Republic 22:49:37 Nikolaos Sideridis   Greece 22:58:40
2016 Andrzej Radzikowski   Poland 23:02:23 Marco Bonfiglio   Italy 23:36:58 Brunner Radek   Czech Republic 24:07:29
2015 Florian Reus   Germany 23:16:44 Dan Lawson   United Kingdom 23:53:05 Hansen Kim   Denmark 23:53:52
2014 Ivan Cudin   Italy 22:27:57 Florian Reus   Germany 23:56:19 Andrzej Radzikowski   Poland 25:48:25
2013 João Oliveira   Portugal 23:28:31 Florian Reus   Germany 25:29:11 Ivan Cudin   Italy 25:53:44
2012 Stu Thoms   Germany 26:28:19[4] Tetsuo Kiso   Japan 26:36:23 Markus Thalmann   Austria 27:14:25
2011 Ivan Cudin   Italy 22:57:40 Yuji Sakai   Japan 24:22:24 Michael Vanicek   Germany 24:55:59
2010 Ivan Cudin   Italy 23:03:06 Jan Albert Lantink   Netherlands 23:31:00 Jan Prochaska   Germany 24:56:00
2009 Ryōichi Sekiya   Japan 23:48:24 Lars Skytte Christoffersen   Denmark 24:32:00 Jon Harald Berge   Norway 25:10:00
2008 Scott Jurek   United States 22:20:01 Markus Thalmann   Austria 24:52:09 Lars Skytte Christoffersen   Denmark 25:29:41
2007 Scott Jurek   United States 23:12:14 Piotr Kurylo   Poland 24:29:41 Valmir Nunes   Brazil 25:37:40
2006 Scott Jurek   United States 22:52:18 Ryōichi Sekiya   Japan 24:14:11 Masayuki Ohtaki (Otaki, Ōtaki)   Japan 25:19:12
2005 Jens Lukas   Germany 24:20:39 Jean-Jacques Moros   France 25:03:30 Markus Thalmann   Austria 26:34:42
2004 Jens Lukas   Germany 25:49:59 Markus Thalmann   Austria 26:20:02 Martin Juri   Australia 27:19:15
2003 Markus Thalmann   Austria 23:28:24 Valmir Nunes   Brazil 25:30:35 Jean-Jacques Moros   France 26:26:16
2002 Ryōichi Sekiya   Japan 23:47:54 Markus Thalmann   Austria 25:16:56 Jeffry Oonk   Netherlands 26:58:55
2001 Valmir Nunes   Brazil 23:18:05 Jens Lukas   Germany 24:46:51 Ryōichi Sekiya   Japan 25:27:30
2000 Masayuki Ohtaki (Otaki, Ōtaki)   Japan 24:01:10 Jens Lukas   Germany 24:59:54 Cees Verhagen   Netherlands 25:35:50
1999 Jens Lukas   Germany 25:38:03 Jean Pierre Guyomarch   France 27:08:57 Jun Onoki   Japan 27:16:36
1998 Kostas Reppos   Greece 25:11:41 Kenzi(Kenji) Okiyama   Japan 26:13:13 James Zarei   United Kingdom 26:44:04
1997 Constantinos Repos   Greece 23:37:00 Kenji Okiyama   Japan 25:55:00 Rune Larsson   Sweden 28:11:00
1996 Roland Vuillemenot   France 26:21:00 Mravlje Dusan   Slovenia 27:55:00 Roy Pirrung   United States 27:56:32
1995 James Zarei   United Kingdom 25:59:42 Vasilios Chalkias   Greece 27:49:46 Kazuyoshi Ikeda   Japan 28:12:00
1994 James Zarei   United Kingdom 26:15:00 Kenji Okiyama   Japan 25:55:00 Peeter Kirppu   Estonia 26:07:00
1993 Rune Larsson   Sweden 25:57:12 Jean-Claude Lapeyrigne   France 29:48:00 Schutze W.D.   Germany 29:50:38
1992[5] Rusko Kantief   Bulgaria 24:08:13 Paul Beckers   Belgium 25:05:48 Roy Pirrung   United States 28:33:02
1991 Seppo Tapio Leinonen   Finland 30:25:07 János Bogár   Hungary 24:15:31 George Stoakes   United Kingdom 30:50:35
1990 Yiannis Kouros   Greece 21:57:00 János Bogár   Hungary 24:49:19 Rune Larsson   Sweden 25:28:48
1989 János Bogár   Hungary 24:15:31 Rune Larsson   Sweden 24:42:05 Seiichi Morikawa   Japan 26:08:18
1988 Rune Larsson   Sweden 24:42:05 James Zarei   Iran 25:59:42 Georges Makris   Greece 26:47:00
1987 Rune Larsson   Sweden 24:41:46 Patrick Macke   United Kingdom 26:41:51 James Zarei   United Kingdom 27:27:16
1986 Yiannis Kouros   Greece 21:51:00 Ernő Kis-Király   Hungary 26:07:00 Peter Mann   Germany 26:41:00
1985 Patrick Macke   United Kingdom 23:18:00 Dusan Mravlje   Yugoslavia 24:39:22 Jean Calbera   France 24:42:00
1984 Yiannis Kouros   Greece 20:25:00 Dusan Mravlje   Yugoslavia 23:44:00 Patrick Macke   United Kingdom 24:32:05
1983 Yiannis Kouros   Greece 20:29:04 Dusan Mravlje   Yugoslavia 24:40:38 Alan Fairbrother   United Kingdom 27:39:14

WomenEdit

[6]

Time = hours:minutes:seconds

Year 1st Nationality Time 2nd Nationality Time 3rd Nationality Time
2017 Patrycja Bereznowska   Poland 24:48:18 Zsuzsanna Maraz   Hungary 25:43:40 Aleksandra Niwińska   Poland 26:28:48
2016 Katalin Nagy   United States 25:22:26 Smith Pam   United States 27:11:53 Maraz Zsuzsanna   Hungary 27:44:01
2015 Katalin Nagy   United States 25:06:05 Alyson Venti   United States 26:50:51 Szilvia Lubics   Hungary 29:18:44
2014 Szilvia Lubics   Hungary 26:53:40 Katalin Nagy   United States 28:55:03 Eva Esnaola   Spain 30:52:41
2013 Szilvia Lubics   Hungary 28:03:04 Antje Krause   Germany 30:07:15 Heike Bergmann   Germany 30:22:03
2012 Elizabeth Hawker (also 3rd overall that year)[1]   United Kingdom 27:02:17[4] Leonie van den Haak   Netherlands 28:42:36 Szilvia Lubics   Hungary 29:45:56
2011 Szilvia Lubics   Hungary 29:07:39 Ruth Podgornik Res   Slovenia 32:17:19 Mimi Anderson   United Kingdom 32:33:23
2010 Emily Gelder   United Kingdom 30:17:03 Heather Fouwdlink-Hawker   United Kingdom 32:43:00 Yoshiko Matsuda   Japan 33:31:00
2009 Sumie Inagaki   Japan 27:39:49 Yoshiko Matsuda   Japan 31:16:00 Lisa Bliss   United States 32:27:00
2008 Sook-Hue Hur   South Korea 30:03:22 Stacey Bunton   United States 31:25:59 Heinlein Marika   Germany 31:39:19
2007 Akiko Sakamoto   Japan 31:09:24 Vrigitte Bec   France 31:56:03 Kimie Noto   Japan 32:11:05
2006 Sumie Inagaki   Japan 28:37:20 Takako Furuyama   Japan 31:40:31 Mary Larsson-Hanudel   United States 31:41:56
2005 Kimie Noto   Japan 30:23:07 Elke Streicher   Germany 32:19:59 Anke Drescher   Germany 32:52:23
2004 Kimie Noto   Japan 29:57:40 Hiroko Okiyama   Japan 31:01:17 Anke Drescher   Germany 32:55:26
2003 Akiko Sakamoto   Japan 29:07:44 Sumie Inagaki   Japan 29:38:54 Barbara Szlachetka   Germany 31:50:23
2002 Irina Reutovich   Russia 28:10:48 Hiroko Okiyama   Japan 30:25:49 Mayumi Okabe   Japan 31:33:35
2001 Alzira Portela-Lario   Portugal 30:31:41 Kimie Funada(later Kimie Noto)   Japan 33:49:17 Heike Pawzik   Germany 34:41:10
2000 Hiroko Okiyama   Japan 29:16:37 Mary Larsson   United States 30:56:16 Helga Backhaus   Germany 31:35:24
1999 Anny Monot   France 35:38:08 Kimie Funada(later Kimie Noto)   Japan 35:41:31 - - -
1998 Mary Larsson   Sweden 28:46.58 Kimie Funada(later Kimie Noto)   Japan 29:32:21 Helga Backhaus   Germany 29:53:49
1997 Helga Backhaus   Germany 30:39:00 Kimie Funada(later Kimie Noto)   Japan 33:36:00 Heike Pawzik   Germany 33:46:00
1996 Helga Backhaus   Germany 29:33:00 Kimie Funada(later Kimie Noto)   Japan 33:36:00 Heike Pawzik   Germany 33:46:00
1995 Kimie Funada (later Kimie Noto)   Japan 29:32:21 Helga Backhaus   Germany 30:41:00 Miyako Yoshikoshi   Japan 35:40:31
1994 Helga Backhaus   Germany 30:39:00 Kazuko Kaihata   Japan 34:12:17 Miyako Yoshikoshi   Japan 34:33:21
1993 Sigrid Lomsky   Germany 32:46:17 Marie Bertrand   France 33:47:12 Miyako Yoshikoshi   Japan 34:18:00
1992 Hilary Walker   United Kingdom 31:23:30 Mary Hanudel-Larsson   United States 33:47:00 Miyako Yoshikoshi   Japan 33:47:52
1991 Ursula Blasberg   Germany 34:42:45 - - - - - -
1990 Anne-Marie Deguilhem   France 34:07:41 Pascale Mahe   France 35:08:03 Mary Hanudel-Larsson   United States 35:31:30
1989 Mary Hanudel (later Mary Larsson)   United States 31:57:23 Monika Kuno   Germany 34:10:00 Eiko Endo   Japan 34:36:49
1988 -
1987 Hilary Walker   United Kingdom 31:23:30 Waltraud Reisert   Germany 35:31:56 - - -
1986 Mary Hanudel (later Mary Larsson)   United States 31:46:45 Waltraud Reisert   Germany 33:21:00 - - -
1985 Mary Hanudel (later Mary Larsson)   United States 34:10 - - - - - -
1984 Mary Hanudel (later Mary Larsson)   United States 30:27:00 Marcy Schwam
Lorna Richey (later Lorna Michael)
  United States
  United States
34:15:10 - - -
1983 Eleanor Robinson (formerly Adams)   United Kingdom 32:37:52 - - - - - -

All-time top 50 performancesEdit

Athlete Time Country Year Place Age
1. Yiannis Kouros 20:25:00 GRE 1984 1 28
2. Yiannis Kouros 20:29:04 GRE 1983 1 27
3. Yiannis Kouros 21:51:00 GRE 1986 1 30
4. Yiannis Kouros 21:57:00 GRE 1990 1 34
5. Sorokin Aleksandr 22:04:04 LTU 2017 1 36
6. Scott Jurek 22:20:01 USA 2008 1 34
7. Ivan Cudin (it) 22:29:29 ITA 2014 1 39
8. Radek Brunner 22:49:37 CZE 2017 2 42
9. Scott Jurek 22:52:18 USA 2006 1 32
10. Ivan Cudin (it) 22:57:40 ITA 2011 1 36
11. Nikolaos Sideridis 22:58:40 GRE 2017 3 36
12. Andrzej Radzikowski 23:02:23 POL 2016 1 35
13. Ivan Cudin (it) 23:03:06 ITA 2010 1 35
14. Patrick Macke 23:08:41 GBR 1990 2 35
15. Scott Jurek 23:12:14 USA 2007 1 33
16. Florian Reus (de) 23:17:31 GER 2015 1 31
17. Patrick Macke 23:18:00 GBR 1985 1 30
18. Valmir Nunes 23:18:05 BRA 2001 1 37
19. Yoshihiko Ishikawa 23:20:56 JPN 2017 4 29
20. Markus Thalmann (de) 23:28:24 AUT 2003 1 39
21. Joao Oliveira 23:29:08 POR 2013 1 36
22. Jan Lantink 23:31:22 HOL 2010 2 52
23. Marco Bonfiglio 23:36:58 ITA 2016 2 39
24. Kostas Reppos 23:37:00 GRE 1997 1 31
25. Dušan Mravlje (sl) 23:44:00 YUG 1985 2 32
26. Ryōichi Sekiya 23:47:54 JPN 2002 1 35
27. Ryōichi Sekiya 23:48:24 JPN 2009 1 42
28. Dan Lawson 23:53:32 GBR 2015 2 42
29. Kim Hansen 23:54:37 DEN 2015 3 40
30. Florian Reus (de) 23:57:13 GER 2014 2 30
31. Ohtaki Masayuki 24:01:10 JPN 2000 1 34
32. Radek Brunner 24:07:29 CZE 2016 3 42
33. Rusko Kantief 24:08:13 BUL 1992 1 34
34. Ryōichi Sekiya 24:14:11 JPN 2006 2 39
35. János Bogár 24:15:31 HUN 1991 1 27
36. Jens Lukas 24:20:39 GER 2005 1 39
37. Yuji Sakai 24:21:29 JPN 2011 1 49
38. Piotr Kuryło (pl) 24:29:41 POL 2007 2 35
39. Sebastian Białobrzeski 24:30:07 POL 2017 5 28
40. Lars Christoffers 24:31:45 DEN 2009 2 37
41. Patrick Macke 24:32:05 GBR 1989 1 34
42. Dušan Mravlje (sl) 24:39:22 YUG 1983 2 30
43. Dušan Mravlje (sl) 24:40:38 YUG 1984 2 31
44. Rune Larsson (sv) 24:41:46 SWE 1987 1 31
45. Jean-Dominique Calbera 24:42:00 FRA 1985 3 37
46. Rune Larsson (sv) 24:42:05 SWE 1988 1 32
47. Jens Lukas 24:46:51 GER 2001 2 35
48. Patrycja Bereznowska 24:48:18 POL 2017 1F
49. János Bogár 24:49:19 HUN 1990 3 26
50. Sagan Lukasz 24:51:00 POL 2017 6 34

[7]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "The lunacy of the long-distance runner". The Economist. 22 December 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2017. 
  2. ^ a b Herodotus, The Persian Wars, Chapter 6, paragraph 106
  3. ^ Spartathlon 1983-2007, page 23, Published by the International Spartathlon Association, Athens, Greece
  4. ^ a b "Finishers". Spartathlon. Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  5. ^ File:Spartatalon finishers 1992.jpg
  6. ^ http://www.spartathlon.gr/en/results/finishers.html
  7. ^ Spartathlon 1983-2017, International Spartathlon Association, 7 Kodrou street, 10558, Athens, Greece

External linksEdit