As you know the British Spartathlon Team have always been keen to promote this great race and provide support to anyone longing to make this special journey, but given the historical significance of, and our undisputed love for the event, we thought it would also be great to share some of the historical information and media we have gathered about this epic race via a number of brief articles.
This article relates to the route planning over Mount Parthenio in 1982 in preparation for the first official Spartathlon.
Info and images have been kindly provided courtesy of Irene Watson who’s office/company (IBS) were the sponsoring headquarters during the early years. Irene is with Mike Callaghan within the group below plotting the first route after the pioneering run by John Foden, John Scholtens and John McCarthy in 1982.
Michael Callaghan was the main person involved with preparations in 1982. Mike used the offices of the British Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, courtesy of Colonel Bernard Edridge who was the General Manager. Irene commented that when things became too busy she gave her offices and staff to Mike Callaghan and John Leatham and that’s where the preparation for the first official Spartathlon of 1983 began.
Commenting on the route planning Irene recounts how this took several day’s in the Greek heat so the group were grateful for the help of locals with regard to the location of water holes and so on.
A particular memory of note for Irene which raises a smile for me was whilst she was enjoying a coffee with locals at the base of the mountain and the team were told about a lad who could run over it and and back again before they’d even finished their coffee. That lad was none other than Yiannis Kouros.
For those unaware, the British Spartathlon Team award a trophy every year for the Best British performance and although we now award a distinct trophy for first female too (The Lizzie Hawker Trophy), the male trophy was named the Michael Graham Callaghan trophy.
The trophy was rebadged as such at the request of Patrick Macke, the fastest ever British runner to complete Spartathlon. Patrick kindly donated his Spartathlon Winners trophy from 1985 to the BST back in 2015. This was to be awarded as a perpetual trophy for Best British Performance going forward. We collected the trophy from it’s custodian Malcolm Campbell who was the inaugural President of the IAU and a very accomplished runner himself.
We will never know but had it not been for the efforts of Michael Callaghan the Spartathlon legacy borne by the ideas of John Foden may have never been realised and the race we all know and love would have been denied us.
Ian Thomas on behalf of BST