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Race Reports

From: Don Winkley Subject: Spartathlon 2005 Race Report T

his was perhaps my best race ever but I can’t find that I ever wrote a race

report. So very belatedly I want to share the story of how once the planets were in alignment.

Spartathlon. It all starts with the ancient Greek messenger Pheidippides who ran from Athens to Sparta, a distance of 150 miles and arrived the next day. The race named Spartathlon has been organized since 1983 and has attracted athletes from many nations to attempt to run from Athens to Sparta in 36 hrs.

I entered Spartathlon a number of times and must have started in about 1999 to 2000. In my first attempt I made it to the 100k mark and was timed out. Each 5k aid station is a cut off and there are fifty 5k aid stations. The next year I came close to 100 miles before being sum-

moned into the bus. I was really unhappy and protested I wanted to make it to 100 miles.

The scene was of the ugly American who refused to get into the bus and I was not invited back for a couple of years. After my cool off period I received an race invite and returned to make it to the base of the mountain about mile 98. Finally the next year I actually got the see the mountain.

This 1200 ft climb up Mount Parthenio in the dead of night after running 98 miles is simply cruel. There is no pathway up the mountain only glow sticks to guide you. The footing on loose racks is slip- pery and only by grabbing and pulling on bushes was I able to summit the mountain.

Upon summiting a race official met me

to announce I was out of time. So into the packman bus. Now the packman bus follows behind the runners picking them off one by one as they fail to meet the cut-offs. You are required to surrender your numbers and sign a paper that you voluntarily withdrew.

Riding in the packman bus to Sparta, how we all hated it.

Finally we come to 2005. I have had a good Transe Gaule race running 42 miles per day at about 5 miles/hr for 18 days in a row. Then immediately to Font-Romeu to train at altitude in the Pyrenees and recover from Transe Gaule. Arrived in Athens for my 5th or 6th attempt.

I remember putting more effort into what I wanted in my drop bags. You could leave a drop bag at any 5k aid station

28 Ultrarunning World | February/March 2011

Luis Rios and Don Winkley (right) at the Self-Transcendence 6 day race 2010

Photo by Alakananda

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