NEWS

Markus Thalmann…

Markus Thalmann celebrates in front of the statue of the ancient Spartan king Leonidas after winning the grueling annual race from Athens to Sparta on Saturday. The 39-year-old Austrian finished the 246-kilometer (154-mile) course in 23 hours, 28 minutes and 24 seconds, two hours ahead of Brazil’s Valmir Nunes, who clocked 25:30.35, event organizers said. Frenchman Jean-Jacques Moros finished third with 26:26.16. ‘I would like to win an Olympic medal in this event but the Spartathlon is not an Olympic event,’ Thalmann said after the race, which this year featured some 230 athletes from 30 countries. The race, known as the Spartathlon, is a punishing re-enactment of the legendary run by the messenger Pheidippides nearly 2,500 years ago to seek the help of Sparta against a Persian invasion. The route across southern Greece was plotted by a group of British air force officers in 1982, following the writings of the ancient historian Herodotus, and has been run as a race each year since. (AP)