Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Spartathlon

Okay readers: If I ever come to you and say that I want to run the Spartathlon, you have my permission to talk me out of it.  This sounds intense!
These are the last few minutes before the start of the Spartathlon, one of the world’s toughest ultra-marathons. The 310 runners in this year’s race are doing their final stretches. Energy supplements are being taken; running belts are being checked; caps with neck flaps to protect against the sun are being adjusted. Many athletes have a crew to support them during the race; there is time for some final words of encouragement before the runners edge towards the starting line.
At 7am precisely, as dawn approaches, the race begins. The field strings round the Acropolis and past the agora, the heart of ancient Athenian life, before heading into the early-morning traffic. The pace is gentle: an average runner can keep up for the first kilometre easily. But this race is about distance, not speed. After that first kilometre, another and another and another lie ahead. Everyone in the field has completed at least a 100km (62-mile) race. For this event, they will have to run 245km (or almost six consecutive marathons) within 36 hours. Only 72 of them will end up making it all the way to historical Sparta.
 From The Spartathlon: The Lunacy of the Long-Distance Runner, via The Economist

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