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Digital Subscriptions > Men's Running > September 2018 > ROAD TO RUINS

ROAD TO RUINS

THE SPARTATHLON IS THE STUFF OF ULTRARUNNING LEGEND, HARKING BACK TO THE DAYS OF ANCIENT GREECE. OUR MAN GOT UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH THE 2013 EVENT TO FIND OUT JUST WHAT THE COMPETITORS GO THROUGH ON THEIR 246KM SLOG THROUGH HISTORY

I have just landed in Athens but this journey began long ago. For me, ever since discovering the world of ultrarunning, I have heard mythical tales of the Spartathlon, a 246km road race from Athens to Sparta, following the journey of the messenger Pheidippides. The name might ring a bell – he’s the guy the marathon distance is based on from a later jaunt.

What is not so widely known, however, is his exploit of running from Athens to Sparta to ask the Spartans for help in the impending war with the advancing Persians.

It is in this memory that in 1982 John Foden, John McCarthy and John Scholten attempted to emulate this feat. Their success prompted the creation of a race that is now as prestigious as they come in the ultrarunning calendar. Race organiser, Kostis Papadimitriou, describes the race as “drawing a legend out of the depths of history”, asserting that athletes are drawn to “the uniqueness and difficulty of the race as well as the modesty and respect of the athletic ideals imposed by a race known as ‘mythic’.”

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About Men's Running

Men's Running special edition - 25 races to do before you die. The definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results: it's a phrase that many of us runners can attribute to our running exploits. It's so easy to do the same events every year and never branch out, and yet life outside our personal bubbles is big, bold and exciting. As a former editor of this esteemed publication, I have been afforded the chance to race all over the world. I have done this not because I expected to be any good at the events I attended - quite the opposite in fact - but because it propelled me out of my running rut and towards a goal that was simply about finishing and enjoying the race. I have never had a bucket list of races I wanted to tick off, but, if I did, I imagine that many of them would be included in this Men's Running special. We've literally scoured the world of running to bring you some of the finest, most spectacular, most interesting and sometimes most unusual of events. It's been a journey that has taken us from the icy temperatures of Arctic Sweden to reggae-infused Jamaica, with a few obstacles and even some horses thrown in. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.