Grueling Spartathlon race starts this Friday


TAGS: Track & Field

Spartathlon 2016, this unique annual ultra-marathon race of 246 kilometers from Athens to Sparta draped in history, is starting on Friday morning with the winner set to cross the finish line early on Saturday.

About 380 runners, men and women, from around the world will attempt to run at once the distance equal to some six Marathon races, organizers announced at a press conference in Athens last week.

They come from a record-long list of some 700 candidates, trimmed down to 400 from 52 countries based on various selection criteria, though injuries and other factors have reduced the final number of participants to 380.

The race that commemorates the run of Pheidippides, the ancient Athenian messenger who ran to Sparta to seek help ahead of the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, already has its own history, with 34 years of successful hosting and international acclaim. It is even supported by no less a sponsor than the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and has come under the auspices of Greece’s Infrastructures and Tourism Ministry.

Acropolis will be the setting of the race start early on Friday morning. The weather forecast is not so favorable, as conditions will be rather warm for the end of September, temperatures climbing up to around 30 degrees centigrade.

For those too far away or simply unable to experience the grueling challenge of the Spartathlon, Kathimerini understands that Barney Spender's documentary “The Road to Sparta” is to premiere next month in Athens. Featuring the efforts of four runners, including celebrity Greek-American Ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes, the feature-length documentary tracks the race and its various challenges from start to finish.