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Athens News Agency: News in English, 11-10-02

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Italy's Ivan Cudin wins Spartathlon for second consecutive year

  • [01] Italy's Ivan Cudin wins Spartathlon for second consecutive year

    (AMNA) -- Italian ultra-distance runner Ivan Cudin won the 29th Spartathlon on Saturday, covering the 246 kilometer distance from Athens to Sparta in just under 23 hours. The race started out on Friday from the Acropolis in Athens, finishing at the statue of Leonidas in Sparta.

    Cudin won the 28th Spartathlon with a time of 22:56:45, beating his own winning time of 23:03:06 last year. Cudin topped a turnout of 285 athletes of both genders from 39 countries, with Yuji Sakai of Japan in second place with a time of 24:21:29 and Michael Vanicek of Germany third with 25:55:04.

    The top Greek in the competition was George Koutsoukos, who placed 13th overall with a time of 29:06:18.

    The top woman was Szilvia Lubics of Hungary, who placed 14th in the overall standings with 29:06:50.

    The Spartathlon is a historic ultra-distance foot race that takes place in September of every year in Greece. It is one of the most difficult and satisfying ultra distance races in the world because of its unique history and background.

    The race retraces the route of Pheidippides, whom the Athenian generals sent to Sparta to seek reinforcement for their sparse forces in order to confront the "Asian tide" (incursion), according to the historian Herodotus on the 490 BC Battle of Marathon.

    For 29 consecutive years, the Spartathlon athletes have followed the route John Foden and his team defined in 1982 when they experimented in running from Athens to Sparta. It is based on Herodotusí description of the Athenian 'Imerodromou' or messenger who arrived in Sparta the day after he departed from Athens and also on well known historical events of that time. It has, therefore, been considered the nearest route to that which Pheidippides must have followed.

    Briefly, Miltiadesí messenger Pheidippides started out of Athens on the ancient Iera Odos, or "sacred road", up to Elefsis. From there he followed Skyronia Odos, a military road on the slopes of the Gerania Mountains, and travelled through Isthmia, Examilia and Ancient Corinth. He went on to Ancient Nemea, thus avoiding the Epicratea of Argos, as it wasnít in alliance with Athens, and he continued along the mountains between Argolida and Arcadia. He climbed the Parthenio Mountain (1200 meters), where he encountered the god Pan. Descending the mountain, he continued in the direction of historical Tegea, one of the locations mentioned by Herodotus in his account about Pheidippides. He proceeded south toward Sparta. Upon his arrival in Sparta, he completed 1,140 "stadia" (with one 'stadio' equalling the length of one stadium), totalling 246 kilometers.

    The battle of Marathon in 490 B.C., one of the most famous battles in world history, constituted a landmark and a starting point in the history of civilization. The triumph of the genius of Miltiades and the self-denial of his soldiers made the hordes of Persians flee and rescued Athens and Hellenism from the utmost danger of subjugation to the barbarian invaders. The effects of the victory at Marathon continue to influence the present. It was the first victory against the planned domination of "Asianization" over Europe and an event with momentous significance. Because of this victory, Athens was able to achieve a great deal and bequeath the benefits of its knowledge, arts and virtue to mankind.

    In 1879 the English poet Robert Browning wrote the stirring poem 'Pheidepeides'. It is said that the poem so inspired Baron Pierre de Coubertin and other founders of the modern Olympic Games that they were prompted to create a foot race of 42 km which would be named the Marathon.

    "Archons of Athens, topped by the tettix, see, I return!

    See, 'tis myself here standing alive, no spectre that speaks!

    Crowned with the myrtle, did you command me, Athens and you,

    "Run, Pheidippides, run and race, reach Sparta for aid!

    Persia has come, we are here, where is She?" Your command I obeyed,

    Ran and raced: like stubble, some field which a fire runs through,

    Was the space between city and city: two days, two nights did I burn

    Over the hills, under the dales, down pits and up peaks."

    Two and a half thousand years after that historical battle, a sports event, inseparably related to it, was born in Greece. The Spartathlon is inseparably linked with the Olympic ideals of friendship. peace, selflessness and fraternity.


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