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7. Less that 13 days to start

Dogs, navigation, training, heat adaptation, funding, literature, sandals etc…

Fear of stray dogs

My number one fear at this project are the stray dogs. I have never been attacked by any dogs in Greece (or anywhere else), but only heard about rumours. Last year at Spartathlon that was frightening; running alone in the dark, tired, and with houling dogs around everywhere. I really hope that someone can join in on those most “dog heavy areas” which I belive is one of the longs stretch before the mountain pass.

Having said that; I will be equipped with a Dog Defense Spray. Not sure if that will help, but at least I feel that I then have more to say if a dog is suddenly trying to attack me.

I really hope that I do not have to use this.

Thank you all for your tips when it comes to how I should react to dogs. In short; the main principles are (if I have understood this correctly are):

  • Do not get eye contract
  • Do not run
  • Walk quiet backwards and around the dog
  • Talk nicely
  • But if confronted by an aggressive dog, pick up one stone (or several stones) and hold it in your hand. Make sure that the dogs see this.
  • If no reaction; throw the stone — but do not try to hit the dog.
  • And if an attack is coming, use the Dog defense spray and shout and scream.

Additional tips wanted! Please comment below.


In principle, the routes that I will follow are the Authentic marathon route (which has fixed brown road signs) and the Spartathlon route which (maybe) will have yellow SP arrows painted on the road. But of course I will have the GPX route with me as well. The route will be uploaded to my iPhone (using the GPX viewer) and to Garmin InReach Mini2.

This means that I have following option for naviation:

  • GPX viewer app from iPhone
  • Garmin InReach
  • Race Tracker web site

I will not use my Coros Apex sports watch for navigation for this project.

For other projects, and for simplicty — I have always navigated, when in doubt, using the GPX viewer at the phone. That will be my prefer option for this project as well. But saying that — I do not expect many navigation issues. (I have done the Spartathlon route once, and for the Authentic route — we have the fixed signs. But running from Sparta to Athen might be an issue — in addition to navigating around Athen of course.)

Screenshot from the GPX viewer iPhone app.


It has been a rough 2022. In March I got Covid - with a very long post Covid period (with more or less “no training”), and it was only as of last month — that I really felt that I was back in normal shape. Training now is going as planed with 200-ish kilometers per week.

After a period with less running, I am now back in pace.

Mostly slow pace. I also add in, normally, two strength sessions per week. My training consist of several smal runs (due to my role as a 100% single dad). Please follow me at Strava if you want to follow more of my training sessions.

A typical running week for me. Several smal sessions.

I have not planned any real tapering or step down for the next two weeks, but of course there will be less running at the travel day at Friday 1st.

Heat adaptation

As a Norseman I am not used to this high temperature. In Norway, a really good summer is when we get around 25 degree Celcius. In Greece, in the area where the route is going, it can easily be around 30 and 40 degree Celcius. That heat, in addition to the stray dogs — are my main two worries for this project.

When it comes to heat adaptation, I have now bought an infrared sauna. Looks silly (the kids are laughing at me) but, from what I understand, infrared sauna shows great results when it comes to such adaptation. (Some claims that these infrared saunes are better than the Finish ones.) Anyway … For the last week, I have used this every day. This is located in my living room infront of the television. Current week, I have used this for 30–40 minutes per day, and will increase this to 1 hour sessions per day for the next two weeks. Temperature inside is about 65 degree Celsius. And it feels quite challenging. At least I am sweeting a lot. Dripping down.

This is the best I can do from here. At least, we — my familiy — can sit together and watch someting at TV — while dad is sitting inside his smal tent and adapting to the Greek climate. I am positive that this will have good effect.


This week long project is actually quite expensive. Total cost will be around NOK 30.000 (approx EUR 2800). The most costly item is the flight tickets. Next week I will work on this to see if there are any willingness “out there” to help me covering part of this cost. I will work with following two areas:

  • For companies; I will try to sell out “packages” with price of NOK 5 000 (EUR 470) each. For this the companies will get following: 1) Company logo at the Race Tracker front page, 2) attention at social media and a 3.) free, physical, 60 minutes post-race presentation (travel cost comes in addition).
  • For private funding; an dedicated VIPPS number (Norwegian only) has been established for this project where you can support this project with either NOK 500 (EUR 47) or NOK 2000 (EUR 190). (As normal, VIPPS will take a 1.75 % cut)
Screenshots from the VIPPS fundraising.


Culture and history is a major player in this project. As a preparation for this task, I have been reading following books (some a audiobooks while running and other as bedtime stories).

  • Histories — Herodot
  • The road to Sparta— Dean Karnazes
  • Illiad — Homer
  • Odyssey — Homer
  • Marathon — How one battle changed western Civilization — Richard A. Billows
  • Spartans — captivating history
Book six, section 105, “And first, before they left the city, the generals sent off to Sparta a herald, one Pheidippides, who by birth and Athenian, and by profession and practice a trained runner (…)”

Running in sandals

In addition to “normal” running shoes, I will also bring with me my running sandals. Circadian adventure sandals from a brand called “Earth Runners”. 9 mm with a Vibram sole. I am not planing to run a lot in these sandals, but will use this as now and then during that week. A 10 kilometres here and there to free up my feets. In addition, these will be used as the footwear when I am not running.

In my normal life, I do not train a lot in these sandals — but I try to get in a session now and then. Feels great. Connects me to Mother Earth. Running in sandals gives me more freedom, feeling the wind between my toes. Very primal. Back to the roots.

My runnings sandals

Todo list:

Following actions must sorted out ASAP.


  • Split total gpx fil to one file per day
  • Transfer daily gpx files to Garmin InReach Mini 2
  • Fill out required papers to enter Greece
  • Update with updated route
  • Find better zip locks bags for organizing items in backpack
  • Top-charge everything before leaving to Greece
  • Issues with AirPods. Must be looked into.




Planing, background, motivation. Why?

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Simen Holvik

Simen Holvik

Norwegian ultrarunner. | Next race: Spartathlon

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