“If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew , To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you, Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

Laudable ideals, but regrettably not applicable to me in 2015 and, alas, not for the past few years. Another DNF, four in a row and the painful realisation that the sands of time have, most probably, run their course for me at this magical event.

A decade of Spartathlons (2005-2015), five euphoric entries into Sparta but also the bitter disappointments associated with six DNFs: “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same”? – not so easy in my humble opinion.

2015 British Spartathlon Team Martin Ilott 01

I was fortunate this year to be spared another harrowing journey on the “Death Bus” thanks to the generosity and compassion of Sarah, the team photographer and intrepid crew of drivers of various levels of recklessness.

It seemed fitting to spend the evening witnessing the most successful British contingent in terms of numbers and percentage of finishers. A testament to the extraordinary rise in popularity of the sport and growth in the number and quality of similar ultra races in the UK.

Race Drone trackers facilitated the location of runners as dusk fell and the mountains of the Peloponnese rose ominously in the distance. So many memorable moments but three in particular stand out:

  • Rob (Pinnington) bouncing into the checkpoint at Ancient Nemea full of smiles, exuding the confidence of a man in full control (finally) of his destiny, selflessly supported by his good friend Nick (Papageorge). 34:44:51
  • The sight of Paul (Rowlinson) despondent and despairing, quads seizing and Achilles aching during the tough climb to Corinth, within minutes of the cut-off digging deep (v deep) to rediscover his form and fire as the sun set on the roads lined with vineyards heading towards Zevgolatio. 34:52:51
  • The proud messages from Gill (Elomari) tracking her partner Ian (Thomas) from the UK who produced the race of his life with an incredibly impressive performance at his first Spartathlon. Age 56, time 31:33:53.

A combination of Classical history, course profile, check-point cut-off times and Greek hospitality has created an event like no other and long may it continue in its current form.

2015 British Spartathlon Team Martin Ilott 03

Congratulations to all the finishers (and double finisher) and for those less fortunate I hope you were inspired to give it another try.

Thank you to our sponsors, team captain(s) and supporters who made the 2015 so special. Finally, a warm note of thanks to my partner of 28 years who has put up with the DNFs and remained so encouraging towards future escapades.

So what next? Anyone in need of a support crew in 2016??

2015 British Spartathlon Team Martin Ilott 02

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