The 2023 'Spartathlon'

The 41st 'Spartathlon' was run over the weekend of 30th September - 1st October 2023.  The Spartathlon race is a historic ultra-marathon event that takes place annually at the end of September in Greece, and is one of the most difficult long-distance races in the world.  The international Spartathlon race relives the footsteps of Pheidippides, an ancient Athenian long-distance runner/herald, who in 490 BC was sent to Sparta to ask for military help the Athenians needed in the coming Battle of Marathon against the Persian invasion of Greece.  According to Herodotus, Pheidippides arrived in Sparta the day after leaving Athens.  The race starts at 07:00 at the foot of the Acropolis and officially finishes in Sparta at 19:00 the following day, so the race does not exceed more than 36 hours for the athletes taking part. 

The winner this year was Fotis Zisimopoulos (pictured above) from Greece, who completed the 245.3km race in 19:55:02.  Fotis won the Spartathlon for a third consecutive year and set a new record time for the ultra-marathon race, beating the previous long-held record set by the legendary Spartathlon runner Yiannis Kouros (pictured right) in 1984 by nearly half-an-hour.  One of the greatest modern ultra-marathoners has been Greek runner Yiannis Kouros, who won the original Spartathlon in 1983.  The organisers didn't present him with the winners cup, as they didn't believe that any athlete could win the race with his time of 21:53:82 as they had forecast a time of around 27 hours.  Yiannis ran again in 1984 and recorded a winning time of 20:25:00, a Spartathlon record time he held for 39 years.

Yiannis Kouros won a record total of four Spartathlons between 1983 and 1990.  We will have to wait and see if Fotis Zisimopoulos, a 40-year-old policeman from Agrinio, will run again next year to try and equal the 4 Spartathlon wins recorded by Yiannis Kouros.  Fotis Zisimopoulos is only the second man to win 3 consecutive Spartathlons since the ultra-marathon competition began in 1983.

The womens race was won by Camille Herron from the USA, coming in third place overall, smashing the previous women's record time with 22:35:25.  Noora Honkala from Finland was the women's runner-up, coming in fourth overall with a time of 23:22:56, who also broke the women's record set by Patrycja Bereznowska, from Poland, in 2017.

All runners completing the Spartathlon are crowned with a wreath of olive leaves and a sip of water from the historic Eurotas River.  The finishing point in Sparta is the bronze statue of the ancient Spartan King Leonidas, located in front of the city's football stadium.

2023 Spartathlon results:                 Distance:  245.3kms (152.4miles)    Total runners started:  379     Total runners completed:  253

  1.  Fotis Zisimopoulos    Greece       19:55:02  -  New record time for men
  2.  Simen Holvik             Norway       22:17:17
  3.  Camille Herron          America      22:35:25  -  New record time for women
  4.  Noora Honkala          Finland       23:22:56
  5.  Roman Martinez       Uruguay      23:32:53