Runners set off on grueling ultramarathon


Athletes smile for the camera at the starting line of the 35th Spartathlon, beneath the Acropolis, early on Friday morning. The grueling 246-kilometer ultramarathon celebrating Pheidippides, the Athenian messenger who was sent to Sparta in 490 BC to seek help against the Persians in the Battle of Marathon, is this year being attempted by 400 athletes from around the world. They headed from the Acropolis to the old Athens-Corinth national highway. Greek runner Yiannis Kouros, who won the first Spartathlon, still holds the record time at 20:25:00. [Spartathlon/ANA-MPA]