Pheidippides
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Pheidippides

4. Respect the history

… and do not detract the purrity

In about 20 days, I will be there, at the location of the most important battle in history. The Battle of Marathon. At this historic beach, Marathon beach, I will start my most challenging and epic run ever. In the footsteps of Pheidippides. 620 kilometers under a massive sun, at unknown territory but with the running Gods in my heart.

A lot has happened during the last week, and the project is getting more and more mature.The idea and the concept is getting more defined. More clear. I have received great feedback, advice, and help from my new friends Nick, Aggeliki and Eleni. They have also pointed out the importance of respect. Respect of the history and respect of Pheidippidies. That we should not detract the purrity of Pheidippidies. And that I fully agree. We need to handle this with the outmost respect.

With this project, I am not after “beating” or act to be better than Pheidippidies, but to honor him and to show respect. That is my true motivation.

I am not competing with Pheidippides, but to make the route and time official, we need to register this as an attempt to fastestknowntime.com (as an FKT), but we do not have focus on a “FKT” as such. This is not a competition. But due to my limited time, as a single dad, I have told myself that I need to do this project in less than six days. I do not have more time available.

For those who do not know; Pheidippides was the ancient Athenian runner who was running from Marathon to Sparta in 490 BC, before the battle of Marathon, to ask for help in the war led by the Greeks against the Persians. According to Herodotus, Pheidippides arrived in Sparta the day after his departure from Athens.

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Some updates regearding accommodation, route change and a some final notes regarding the RAF expedition:

Hotel

Greeks are fantastic! When I arrive at Athen International Airport late July 1st , Aggeliki — a friend of Nick living in Marathon, have offered to pick me up and take me to the hotel. What a service.

I will stay at the Marathon Euro Hotel which is located at the beach of Marathon.

As a surprise, just opposite of that hotel, you will find the Pheidippdies (Fidippidou) street.

From Maraton with respect

I will start to run at July 2nd 08:00 from the Agiou Panteleimonos statue. (Could be that we start ealier, like 06:00 or 07:00, to be decided).This is located close to the beach where the “Battle of Marathon” happened in 490 BC.

The Battle of Marathon took place in 490 BC during the first Persian invasion of Greece. It was fought between the citizens of Athens, aided by Plataea, and a Persian force commanded by Datis and Artaphernes. The battle was the culmination of the first attempt by Persia, under King Darius I, to subjugate Greece.

Agiou Panteleimonos Square Tomb Marathon

From that statue, I will run to the Tumulus of the Athenians at Marathon, and do one round of honour. (The tomb opens at 08:30 “Greek” times, which means that the park might not be open when I run past it).

The Tumulus of the Athenians is a burial mound (tymbos, tomb), or “Soros” that houses the ashes of 192 Arthenians who fell during the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC.

Then I will head on to the Pheidippides street and then at the end follow into the official Athen Authentic Marathon route.

At Mati I will stop for a moment of silence to remember those 102 that lost their lives in the 2018 wildfire. (The fires were the second-deadliest wildfire event in the 21st century, after the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Australia that killed 173.)

The Authentic Marathon Route ends at the Panathenaic Stadium. From the stadium, I will do the shortest route to the Herod Atticus (which is the start point for the Spartahtlon Historical ultramarathon).

Panathenaic Stadium
Herod Atticus

Why this route change?

In my initial plan, the start was set to be Herod Atticus in Athen. And then do Athen, Sparta, Athen, Marathon, Athen. But — when I was told that Pheidippides actually started from the battlefields in Marathon, I had no choice but to change the starting position. The route will then be Marathon, Athen, Sparta, Athen, Marathon, Athen.

This additional stretch adds on 41.5 kilometers and 400 and 300 elevation gain, loss to the total route.

Total distance is now 620 kilometers with 6704 meters of elevation gain and 6639 loss.

Nikos

For the past days, I have got valuable help from Nick (Nikos). A Greek living in Denmark. Born in Kenya, Greek parents. Thank you Nick!

In October 1982 he was part of the legendary RAF expedition — which led to the iconic Spartathlon race. He, at that time 18 years, was running together with John Foden and John McCartney. At Friday October 8th he was running 25 kilometers with McCartney, and at 40 kilomers, at the stretch after the mountain pass, with Foden at Saturday.

Foden finished the Athen — Sparta in about 37:37 hours. Nick was was running together with him for the last 100 meters.

Why was Nick involved in the RAF project? In short, Nick was at a English school in Athens and the RAF guys realized they needed help. Since Nick, and a guy called Ian, could speak Greek — and were runners — , together with 4 teachers — they offered their help. At the time Nick ran a lot, and had completed two marathons.

Nick Papageorge left with John Foden and Phil Simmonds (a teacher at the school) at right,

Last word

“I shan´t wish you luck because if you have not trained luck will not help you and if you have, you won´t need luck”

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Note 1: The Race Tracker page and the fastestknowntime.com route will be updated with latest route changes.

Note 2: There will be several updates like this.

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Please let me know if any comments, or if you see any improvements that we should implement to this project.

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Simen Holvik

Simen Holvik

Norwegian ultrarunner. | Next race: Spartathlon