ULTRAMARATHON

Spartathlon returns and a Greek man wins it

spartathlon-returns-and-a-greek-man-wins-it

Greek runner Fotis Zisimopoulos won the 39th Spartathlon, the ultra-marathon race from Athens to Sparta in southern Greece, on Saturday, by an impressive margin of one hour and 20 minutes.

Zisimopoulos, 38, covered the 246 kilometers in 21 hours, 57 minutes and 20 seconds, followed by Czech runner Radek Brunner, 46, in 23:17:30, and Milan Sumny, 44, in 23:52:57.

Diana Dzaviza, 34, a Latvian athlete living in Austria, won the women’s race, clocking 25:23:59.

The race started at the foot of the Acropolis hill on Friday morning with 334 athletes from 46 countries and regions taking part this year, President of the Board of Directors of the International Association “Spartathlon”, Evangelos Polymeris, told Xinhua.

About a third of participants finish the course each year to get awarded with an olive wreath and a sip of water from the nearby Evrotas river, according to the statistics.

They must reach the finish within 36 hours, following the footsteps of ancient Greek soldier-messenger Pheidippides who in 490 BC, ahead of the battle of Marathon against the Persian forces, reached Sparta to ask for aid, making the journey on foot nonstop within two days.

The competition started after several British Royal Air Force officers tested the course in 1982.

Last year for the first time in its history, Spartathlon, which is held under the auspices of the Ministries of Tourism and National Defense, was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This year it resumed under strict safety measures.

Greek veteran runner Yiannis Kouros, who won the first edition of Spartathlon, still holds the record time at 20:25:00.

[Xinhua]