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The monument containing the name of the Spartathlon winners in Sparta
The finisher’s medal
The reverse side of the medal


Spartathlon is a 246 kilometre (152.85 miles) ultramarathon race held in Greecemarker since 1983 between Athensmarker and Spartamarker.

Origin

The Spartathlon aims to trace footsteps of Pheidippides, an Athenian messenger sent to Sparta in 490 BC to seek help against the Persians in the Battle of Marathonmarker. Pheidippides, according to an account by Greek historian Herodotus in The Persian Wars, arrived in Sparta the day after he departed. 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." . Based on this account, British RAF Wing Commander John Foden and four other RAF officers travelled to Greece in 1982 on an official expedition to test whether it was possible to cover the nearly 250 kilometres in a day and a half. Three runners were successful in completing the distance: John Foden (37:37), John Scholtens (34:30) and John McCarthy in (39:00). In the following year a team of enthusiastic supporters (British, Greek and other nationalities) based on 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.

The race

The race starts at 7:00 am, usually on the last Friday each September, at the foot of the Acropolis. It runs out of Athens toward the coast and runs along the coast towards Corinth via Elefsis, Megara, and Kineta. The route reaches the Corinth Canal at 78.5 kilometres and the runners hit the first of six major check points at 81 kilometres.

After Corinth, the race heads toward Ancient Corinth, Nemea, Lyrkia and at 159 kilometres, reaches the top of Mount Parthenio. From there, it continues south toward Nestani and Tegea, before reaching the main Sparta highway just before the 200 kilometer mark.

Runners must pass through 75 checkpoints along the way and each checkpoint has a cut-off time. Runners outside the cut-off may be pulled out of the race although tardiness in the first half of the race is generally tolerated. This tolerance begins to fade after sunset and in the last third of the race, organisers may pull out runners who are either outside the time limit or who display extreme fatigue.

Entry requirements

In order to run in this race an individual must meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • The individual has finished a race of at least 100 km in less than 10 hours, 30 minutes.
  • The individual has competed in an event of more than 200 kilometers and has completed the race.
  • The individual has already competed in Spartathlon and has reached the checkpoint "Nestanimarker" (172 km) in less than 24 hours, 30 minutes.


Records

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.

In 2008, Scott Jurek won his third straight title, clocking the fifth fastest time in the history of the race. Only Kouros (four times) has run the course faster than Jurek.

In 2007, the 25th anniversary competition had a record 323 starters and the 2008 race had a record 151 finishers under the 36 hour cut-off time.

Following are the winners of the Spartathlon

Men

Year Athlete Country Time (hours:minutes:seconds)
2009 Ryoichi Sekiya 23:48:24
2008 Scott Jurek 22:20:01
2007 Scott Jurek 23:12:14
2006 Scott Jurek 22:52:18
2005 Jens Lukas 24:20:39
2004 Jens Lukas 25:49:59
2003 Markus Thalmann 23:28:24
2002 Ryōichi Sekiya 23:47:54
2001 Valmir Nunes 23:18:05
2000 Masayuki Ōtaki 24:01:10
1999 Jens Lukas 25:38:03
1998 Kostas Reppos 25:11:41
1997 Kostas Reppos 23:37:00
1996 Ronald Vuillemenot 26:21:00
1995 James Zarei 25:59:42
1994 James Zarei 26:15:00
1993 Rune Larsson 25:57:12
1992 Rusko Kantiev 24:15:31
1991 János Bogár 24:15:31
1990 Yiannis Kouros 20:29:00
1989 Patrick Macke 24:32:00
1988 Rune Larsson 24:42:00
1987 Rune Larsson 24:41:00
1986 Yiannis Kouros 21:57:00
1985 Patrick Macke 23:18:00
1984 Yiannis Kouros 20:25:00
1983 Yiannis Kouros 21:53:00


Women

Year Athlete Country Time
2009 Sumie Inagaki 27:39:49
2008 Sook-Hue Hur 30:03:22
2007 Akiko Sakamoto 31:09:24
2006 Sumie Inagaki 28:37:20
2005 Kimie Noto 30:23:07
2004 Kimie Noto 29:57:40
2003 Akiko Sakamoto 29:07:44
2002 Irina Reutovich 28:10:48
2001 Alzira Portela-Lario 30:31:41
2000 Hiroko Okiyama 29:16:37
1999 Anny Monot 35:38:08
1998 Mary Larsson 28:46.58
1997 Helga Backhaus 30:39
1996 Helga Backhaus 29:50
1995 Helga Backhaus 29:33
1994 Helga Backhaus 30:41
1993 Sigrid Lomsky 32:43:32
1992 Hilary Walker 29:49:49
1991 Ursula Blasberg 34:42:45
1990 Anne-Marie Deguilhem 34:07:41
1989 Mary Hanudel (later Mary Larsson) 31:57:23
1988
1987 Hilary Walker 31:23:30
1986 Waltraud Reisert 32:21
1985 Mary Hanudel (later Mary Larsson) 34:10
1984 Mary Hanudel (later Mary Larsson) 34:15:10
1983 Eleanor Adams 32:37:52


All-time top 50 performances

Athlete Time Country Year Place Age
1. Yiannis Kouros 20:25:00 GRE 1984 1 28
2. Yiannis Kouros 20:29:04 GRE 1990 1 34
3. Yiannis Kouros 21:53:42 GRE 1983 1 27
4. Yiannis Kouros 21:57:00 GRE 1986 1 30
5. Scott Jurek 22:20:01 USA 2008 1 34
6. Scott Jurek 22:52:18 USA 2006 1 32
7. Patrik Macke 23:08:41 GBR 1990 2 35
8. Scott Jurek 23:12:14 USA 2007 1 33
9. Patrik Macke 23:18:00 GBR 1985 1 30
10. Valmir Nunes 23:18:05 BRA 2001 1 37
11. Markus Thalmann 23:28:24 AUT 2003 1 39
12. Kostas Reppos 23:37:00 GRE 1997 1 31
13. Dusan Mravlje 23:44:00 YUG 1985 2 32
14. Riochy Sekiya 23:47:54 JPN 2002 1 35
15. Riochy Sekiya 23:48:24 JPN 2009 1 42
16. Ohtaki Masayuki 24:01:10 JPN 2000 1 34
17. Rusko Kantief 24:08:13 BUL 1992 1 34
18. Ryoichi Sekiya 24:14:11 JPN 2006 2 39
19. János Bogár 24:15:31 HUN 1991 1 27
20. Jens Lukas 24:20:39 GER 2005 1 39
21. Piotr Kurylo 24:29:41 POL 2007 2 35
22. Lars Christoffers 24:31:45 DEN 2009 2 37
23. Patrik Macke 24:32:05 GBR 1989 1 34
24. Dusan Mravlje 24:39:22 YUG 1983 2 30
25. Dusan Mravlje 24:40:38 YUG 1984 2 31
26. Rune Larsson 24:41:46 SWE 1987 1 31
27. Jean-Dominique Calbera 24:42:00 FRA 1985 3 37
28. Rune Larsson 24:42:05 SWE 1988 1 32
29. Jens Lukas 24:46:51 GER 2001 2 35
30. János Bogár 24:49:19 HUN 1990 3 26
31. Jens Lukas 24:59:54 GER 2000 2 34
32. Jean-Jacques Moros 25:03:30 FRA 2005 2 35
33. Paul Beckers 25:05:48 BEL 1992 2 30
34. Jon Berge 25:09:38 NOR 2009 3 40
35. Kostas Reppos 25:11:41 GRE 1998 1 32
36. Markus Thalmann 25:16:56 AUT 2002 2 38
37. Masayuki Ohtaki 25:19:12 JPN 2006 3 40
38. Ryoichi Sekiya 25:27:30 JPN 2001 3 34
39. Rune Larsson 25:28:48 SWE 1989 2 33
40. Valmir Nunes 25:30:35 BRA 2003 2 39
41. Rune Larsson 25:32:55 SWE 1990 4 34
42. Akihiko Kumasaka 25:34:49 JAP 2001 4 33
43. Verhagen Gees 25:35:50 HOL 2000 3 40
43. Valmir Nunes 25:37:40 BRA 2007 2 43
45. Jens Lukas 25:38:03 GER 1999 1 33
46. Ronald Teunisse 25:39:57 HOL 1988 2 36
47. Takehiro Matsushita 25:43:31 JPN 2009 4 30
48. Jens Lukas 25:48:44 GER 2007 4 41
49. Jens Lukas 25:49:59 GER 2004 1 38
50. Levente Kalotai 25:52:24 HUN 2006 4 34


References

  1. Herodtus, The Persian Wars, Chapter 6, paragraph 106
  2. Spartathlon 1983-2007, page 23, Published by the International Spartathlon Association, Athens, Greece
  3. Spartathlon 1983-2007, International Spartathlon Association, 7 Kodrou street, 10558, Athens, Greece


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