jump to navigation

An American wins Spartathlon in Greece October 1, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Athletics.

Scott Jurek of the United States won the Spartathlon on Saturday, a 245.3-kilometre race from Athens to Sparta that follows the 2,500-year-old route taken by legendary messenger Pheidippides.

Japan’s Inagaki Sumie was the top woman in the ultramarathon featuring 260 runners from 32 countries on a winding course along highways, dirt roads and mountains.

Jurek completed the annual race in 22 hours 52 minutes 18 seconds and was followed by two Japanese runners – Sekiya Ryoichi in 24:14:11 and Masayuki Ohtaki in 25:19:12. Sumie won her division in 28:37:20.

The field set out early Friday, running through rugged terrain to the finish line at the statue to ancient King Leonidas in Sparta, in the southern Peloponnese. The runners, who share a strong bond, passed through vineyards, mud, olive groves and up Mount Parthenio, almost a 2,000 metre ascent, in the middle of the night.

“They are coming here just for the difficulties (of the course),” said Spartathlon chief organizer Panagiotis Tsiakiris, adding only one-third of the runners usually finish.

“It’s a great experience,” said Mark Williams of San Jose, Calif., before setting out on his 14th Spartathlon on his 41st birthday.

The Spartathlon is about eight kilometres short of six consecutive marathons. The course is based on Herodotus’ account of the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. Pheidippides, an Athenian messenger, was sent to summon troop reinforcements against the invading Persians and arrived in Sparta “one day later.”

In 1982, British Royal Air Force officer John Foden tested the ancient tale and finished the course in 36 hours, laying the groundwork for the annual race.

To qualify for this event, participants must have finished a 100-kilometre race in less than 10 1/2 hours, completed a 200-kilometre race or finished or reached a certain checkpoint in a previous Spartathlon.

%d bloggers like this: