SPORTS

Late surge gives back-to-backSpartathlon victories to American

Scott Jurek of the USA won his second straight Spartathlon ultramarathon race on Saturday, clocking 23 hours, 12 minutes and 14 seconds along the 246-kilometer (152.8-mile) route from Athens to Sparta, the course first followed 2,500 years ago by the legendary messenger Pheidippides. Jurek overtook longtime leader Piotr Kurylo in the latter stages, with the Polish runner finishing in 24:29.41. Valmir Nunes of Brazil was third, more than a minute behind. The 33-year-old American, who is based in Seattle, was among 332 runners who started in the annual race Friday at the foot of the Acropolis. The route runs along highways, rural roads and poorly lit mountain paths before reaching the southern Greek city. «It was tougher than last year,» Jurek said. «This time, I tried a different tactic and followed the other athletes before picking up the pace [near the end]. I took the lead and it was easier after that,» added the winner, who had clocked 22:52.13 in last year’s Spartathlon victory. According to the ancient historian Herodotus, who recorded the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, Pheidippides left Athens in search of reinforcement troops and arrived in Sparta «one day later.» In 1982, John Foden of Britain sought to prove a man could complete the run and finished it in less than 36 hours, preparing the ground for the annual race. Greek-born runner Yiannis Kouros holds the course record of 20 hours, 25 minutes, which he set in 1984 – a year after the annual race began. The Spartathlon ends at the statue of Spartan king Leonidas – who is portrayed in the 2007 movie «300.» After his win, Jurek was crowned with an olive wreath and given a bowl of water from the local Evrotas River. (AP)