Saturday, November 05, 2005

Sparthathlon Report from John Foden

British runners are once again successfully finishing the 246 kms with 9,000 feet of climb International Spartathlon in Greece, the most difficult annual ultra distance race in in the world. Last year in good conditions only two finished. This year five did - greatest number ever - yet the conditions were appalling.

For holiday makers Greece may seem to be all sunshine, sandy beaches and blue seas. But just as the leading competitors were climbing at night the shepherds¹ track over the rocky 4,000 foot pass between Mounts Mavrovouni and Kaequria, it began to rain. The rain reduced visibility outside the beams of the runners¹ torches to zero. The fields of scree and precipitous falls beside the slippery boulder strewn track would have caused Britain¹s Health & Safety Executive to ban the race outright. As it was this challenge came at the 160 kms, or 100 mile, point in it. Also at that height it was very cold and windy.

Up to then the young French athlete Jean-Jaques Moros had led the field. But soon after he had to relinquish his first place to the more experienced and previous winner Jens Lucas of Germany, who went on to finish by touching the statue of King Leonidhas in the astoundingly good time of 24-20-39. Dr Markus Thalmann of Austria and also a previous winner in was third. It was only as the last runners to finish, just within the time limit of 36 hours, that the rain eased off.

Perhaps though the most remarkable athlete was the diminutive Kimie Noto of Japan. She was first lady and 12th overall, in 30-23-07. She smiled all the way and bowed as she ran to those who cheered her. She is probably the most courteous athlete in the world.

For the first fifteen years the British, Commonwealth and Irish athletes dominated the victor¹s podium, but we have had to let other nations in on the act recently. So far Africans have shown no interest in this purely amateur sport.

For the second year running Mark Williams won the trophy for the first British athlete. He was closely followed by William Sichel, who comes from the Orkney Islands and was competing for the first time. Hopefully he will lead a British revival and have his name engraved on the fifteen foot high marble obelisk in Sparta¹s main boulevard. It would also be great if Austrailans, Canadians, Kiwis and South Africans followed Brian Smith onto the podium.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Kouros to start at Colac


The Colac 6-day race Committee have great pleasure in announcing that Greek Superstar, Yiannis Kouros, without doubt the best Ultra runner in the world will compete in the 20th Cliff Young Australian 6-day race at Colac, Victoria from the 20th till the 26th November 05. Kouros, who will be travelling from Athens to compete in the event, is the holder of several world records including the 6day track record of 1023.2km(set at Colac twenty one years ago) and the 24hr track record of 303km.

Kouros last competed at Colac in 2000 where he won with 801.6km. This is still an incredible distance when you consider that he was injured after two days. Kouros is looking at improving this distance this time and looks like being in top form after completing the double Sparthathlon in Greece earlier this year.

Race commentator, Phil Essam believes that with the addition of Kouros into the field, the race has the potential to be one of the best 6-day races of all times. "Kouros isnt going to have it all his own way this year. Claude Hardel from France, ran 923 km in a 6-day race at Germany earlier this year and there are two Japanese runners that have excellent results to their name this year. The first is Kenji Okiyama who ran 407km in a 48hr race this year and the other one is Muneharu Kiroda who ran over 250km in a 24hr race at Tapei earlier this year. This race has the potential to be one of the best." said Essam

The race is being run from the 20th to the 26th of November at Memorial Square, Colac. It can be followed online at . There are now thirty seven runners in the field with twelve different countries being represented. Spectators are encouraged to attend and cheer on the runners throughout the six days of the event. There will also be bands playing during the week and several other activities will be happening at the Square throughout the week..

If you would like further information, please phone Phil Essam on 0407830263 or email on

Phil Essam