Less than three months before the 2015 Spartathlon, documentary-makers Barney Spender and Roddy Gibson have unveiled the first trailer of their film “The Road to Sparta,” a crowdfunded project intended primarily to prove to viewers that there are indeed runners who can cover over 240 kilometers in a day and a half in the Greek heat.
The feature-length film, shot during the 2014 edition of the Spartathlon, focuses on four runners including Ultramarathon Man Dean Karnazes, who was taking part in the grueling race from Athens to Sparta for the first time.
“I don’t know if I have ever suffered so much,” says Karnazes, a veteran of Badwater, Western States, the South Pole and just about every other toughest, baddest ultra on the planet.
The film – independently financed through crowdfunding and supported by Aegean Airlines – also features New York-born Greek nurse Angela Terzi as well as two Britons, Mark Woolley and Rob Pinnington.
“The purpose for making the film in the first place was that I was a bit fed up of trying to convince people I was telling the truth,” says Spender, a veteran sports journalist who spent five years living in Athens.
“I would try to explain that the race involved 350 runners trying to go 246 km in 36 hours and people thought I was having them on.
“I was fascinated by the history of the race, which has its roots in the run made by Pheidippides before the Battle of Marathon, and also by what motivates the runners to go through the pain and the fatigue of running through the night, with blisters, exhaustion, diarrhea, the works, along busy highways, up mountain passes at midnight, just to reach Sparta and kiss the feet of Leonidas. There is no prize money in the race, just the satisfaction of reaching the end.
“I thought the best way to tell the story, the only way really, was by showing everyone the gory and the glory.”
Original music, some of which can be heard on the trailer, is being scored by the Manchester-based Greek band Old House Playground, who are working with experienced producer Clive Martin, the man who helped David Byrne to an Oscar for his work on “The Last Emperor.”
“The Road to Sparta” is slated to be finished in September 2015.