Spartathlon winner opens up

In comments following last weekend’s triumph in the Spartathlon ultramarathon, a 246-kilometer route from Athens to Sparta, for the second year running, US runner Scott Jurek noted that «meditation» and «soul-searching» were both needed to sustain an athlete’s effort over enormous distances. «I think it is the immense challenge. Running 10 kilometers could be a big challenge for someone but when you run these ultramarathons you really do some incredible soul-searching,» remarked Jurek in an interview with «It’s like no other experience you will have as you have to go deeper into the soul and find out what one is made of,» continued the American athlete, who ran the distance in 23 hours, 12 minutes and 14 seconds. The 33-year-old Seattle-based athlete left behind the race’s longtime leader, Piotr Kurylo of Poland, who came in a little over an hour later, clocking 24:29.41, for second place. Brazilian Valmir Nunes ended third, just over a minute behind the Pole. Asked whether boredom sets in as an additional burden when running alone for many hours, as was the case toward the end of last weekend’s Spartathlon, Jurek, in the Sport In Greece interview, commented: «There are times when you have to call on things like meditation. I wish I could say it has never entered my mind to quit. Of course, I have those feelings of discomfort and pain like everyone else but those are the times when you really have to dig deep.» Jurek had also won the previous Spartathlon in what was his first attempt at the race, clocking a faster time than this year, 22:52.13. The American currently holds the fifth and sixth fastest times. Greek runner Yiannis Kouros holds the race record with a time of 20:25.0, set in 1984, when the Spartathlon was officially launched. Jurek expressed interest in running it next year. «I definitely want to come back. Whether it is next year, we will have to see,» Jurek said. «I have been told that no one has won the race three times in a row so that might be something to get me back. My wife and I enjoy Greek culture and the people and this event has such a rich history that it would be hard not to come back.» The idea to stage the Athens-to-Sparta race was prompted in 1982 after John Foden of the UK sought to prove that the distance was humanly possible. He ran the course in under 36 hours. 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.»

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