Congratulations to all our British Spartathlon finishers and all the runners, crews and supporters who made it a brilliant weekend for the team.
Due to the difficulty of this race there were some success and some failures but the British Team recorded an overall finishing rate of 65% which was the 3rd highest country (excluding those with one participant) which was a great effort overall.
The full list of finishers is shown below and the official team race report will follow shortly.
Dan Lawson had an incredible run, leading for large parts of the race before eventually finishing second overall in a sub 24 hour time which was the 3rd fastest British Time of all time.
Some of you may know Dan Lawson works part of the year in India for The Organisation for Social Change, Awareness and Responsibility (OSCAR). It is a not-for-profit organisation which provides high quality football coaching to underprivileged boys and girls in Mumbai and across different areas of India. OSCAR runs a unique programme that not only teaches sport to children & youth but also helps them to understand the value of education.
There is a donate button on the home page if you are interested in helping: http://www.oscar-india.org/about
We have started to update the website with photos and reports from the team and will continue to do this over the next few weeks.
Good luck to the British Spartathlon Team, who may well be the toughest team you’ve never heard of.
On Friday the 25th September at 7am local time (5am GMT), a team of 21 British runners will start the gruelling Spartathlon event held every September in Greece.
The race sees some 390 runners from 42 different countries around the world attempt to make the 153-mile journey starting from the Acropolis in Athens to the statue of legendary King Leonidas in Sparta – a journey mimicking that of the Athenian messenger Pheidippides who ran the distance in advance of the 490BC Battle of Marathon to ask for Spartan help against the invading Persian forces.
Each runner will have to contend with a combination of the continuous non-stop nature of the race, the unforgiving heat, running through the night and a 1200 meter ascent and descent of Mount Parthenio in the dead of night. Runners must contend with all of these elements whilst trying to stay ahead of the race cut off times and reach their destination within 36 hours.
All of these aspects of the race will mean that only around a third of the runners who start will actually reach the finish.
The race doesn’t advertise or promote itself as the toughest or the hardest footrace in the world, it doesn’t need to. The challenge of finishing the event is obvious and runners participating in this event will experience both extreme physical and mental demands during the race.
The British Spartathlon Team plays a unique role in the race itself: RAF officers John Foden, John Scholtens and John McCarthy were the first three runners to complete the distance in 1982 when they set out to find if the story of Pheidippides could be repeated. Their success led to the first Open International Spartathlon Race a year later, and the formation of the International Spartathlon Association, the race’s governing body.
There is a strong British presence this year with the largest group of British runners that has ever taken part in the event and courtesy of Race Drone you can track the progress of the British team in real time via the following web link http://racedrone.net/event/spartathlon.
In addition there will be some live streaming of the race at the official Spartathlon Race website at http://www.spartathlon.gr/en and you can follow updates via the British Spartathlon Team official twitter account @SpartathletesUK
We wish the 2015 British Spartathlon Team every success for the event.
The team would also like to thank everyone who kindly sponsored and supported the team including Birmingham Runner, Bee Friends, Corr Recruitment, Floodies, RockTape, Newbury Runners, ULTRA Marathon Running Store, Ultra Sun, Race Drone and all the individual donations.
Thank you to Rob Pinnington for putting together this months update.
The British Spartathlon Runners & Crew T-Shirts have arrived. Many thanks to Dave Ireland and our other sponsors Lorna Newson and Danny Corr. Matt Mahoney is arranging postage of all the kit (T-Shirts, Buffs and Hats) to each of you of your order.
Please make sure you respond to his request for your delivery addresses. Unfortunately we don’t have budget to pay for the postage. So Matt will need reimbursing from your own pockets.
Crew T-Shirt Design (Photo by Matt Mahoney)
Crew T-Shirt Design (Photo by Matt Mahoney)
The final list of trackers has been published thanks to Richard Weremiuk of Race Drone for the sponsorship The ones who signed up are:
You can follow the above listed people here on the race.
New UK Ultra Running Magazine
Andy Nuttall who made a contribution to the team has published the first issue of his magazine Ultra available here. We hope to cover the British Spartathlon teams efforts this year in a future issue.
Racing / Events
Some of the British Spartathlon Team have been racing in events, whilst the others are (hopefully) all busy training for September.
Several members of the team took part in the Lakeland 50 & 100 event a difficult and challenging Ultra Marathon which takes place in the Lake District.
Debbie Martin-Consani came 2nd in the Lakeland 50 event and Isobel Wykes came joint 3rd in the Lakeland 100.
Lawrence Eccles came 7th in the Lakeland 100. Unfortunately Jon Steele had to withdraw from the event with breathing issues and will be focussing for recovering and getting fit for Sparta.
Debbie Martin-Consani pictured during the Lakeland 50 event.
Paul Ali ran the Endure 12/50 50k, a small evening to night time trail ultra. He finished in 3.53 coming 4th out of 40 runners and followed this up with a 3.05 finish for 3rd place out of 72 runners in the Phoenix Summer Marathon two weeks later. Paul Stout also took part and completed the Phoenix Summer Marathon event after a difficult run.
Paul Ali (centre) and Paul Stout (right) pictured. (Photo by Fi McNelis)
Neil Cloke completed the Ice Trail Tarentaise in France mid July. Running and climbing over mountainous snowy terrain at altitude is probably a little different than a hot, dusty roads of Greece but it’s all good preparation.
Neil Cloke pictured.
Ian Thomas completed the Fairlands Valley Challenge off road 50k on 19th July finishing joint 5th but reporting a tough day at the office to dehydration thanks to a faulty Salomon flask. Ian is also planning to run the Stour Valley Special Marathon on 1st August and two weeks later the Stour Valley 100k.
Training / Other News
Our beloved ‘Captain Pink’ (Mimi) is on Holiday in the Alps geeting a lot of training done in the alps with crew which includes our accountant Becky Healey.
James Ellis and Jamie Holmes have been spending some time training (and team bonding) in the Peak District as pictured below. Paul Rawlinson has also been spending some time hiking around the mountains in Chamonix during the past month.
Training in the Peak District
Martin Illot has been spending some time cross training and he recently completed the L’Etape au Tour which was described as an arduous cycling sportive in the Alps where he spent over 10 hours in the saddle in 30C heat.
Martin Illot (left) pictured.
For those Strava users, we have setup a British Spartathlon Team Strava Group so we can share training information (or just for stalking other runners). The Strava Group for the team can be found here, feel free to join the group.
I (Rob) am on holiday in Tenerife and getting in lots of speed work and tempo runs and have the Leipzig 100km planned for the middle week of August as a build up run.
Good luck to Sean Maley who is taking part in La Ultra – The High with former British Spartathlete Mark Woolley.
We hope everyone’s training is going well and we will post a further update towards the end of August/early September.
Welcome to the June update on behalf of the British Spartathlon Team.
We have some fantastic news to announce regarding the race.
Courtesy of www.racedrone.net, the British Spartathlon Team have been offered the use of their GPS trackers during the event so family, friends and supporters will be able to track each of the runners (subject to the runners being happy to carry a device) during the race.
The use of GPS trackers has now become more common place for some of the longer distance ultra races as people will have seen at races like The Spine and the Thames Ring (which is currently taking place at the time of writing) both of which have been supported by Race Drone. These devices not only provide valuable safety support but also give friends, families, supporters and the entire UK ultra running community the ability to see the race unfold from start to finish. Never before has there been this level of visibility of a race. No pressure at all guys and girls!
People will be able to follow the race using this link http://racedrone.net/event/70 although runners details and GPS devices will not be updated until shortly before the event.
We would like to thank Richard Weremiuk and Race Drone for supporting the team this year.
The Mike Callaghan Trophy
Former British Spartathlon runner Patrick Macke who has recorded 8 Spartathlon finishes and holds the record for the fastest British time at 23hrs 8mins set in 1990 has kindly donated the 1985 Spartathlon Winners Trophy to be used as a perpetual trophy for the fastest British performance each year.
Patrick has requested the trophy be named the “Mike Callaghan Trophy” in memory of the original Spartathlon organiser Mike Callaghan who sadly passed away in 2013.
We will post a photo of the trophy up soon, so watch this space.
Thank you to Patrick for this generous donation, this is very much appreciated by the team.
Some of you may be aware that an independent video of last years race was put together featuring British runners Mark Woolley and Rob Pinnington amongst others. A preview of the video can be seen here.
Congratulations to Tremayne Cowdry and Lawrence Eccles who both completed the Dragons Back race (a multi-day mountain run across Wales). Tremayne finished 24th in a time of 59 hours. Aside from a gashed knee, hundreds of mozzie bites, having several ticks removed and a dodgy stomach he reports he is injury free! Lawrence finished 10th in a time of 51 hours 50mins. Well done chaps.
Ian Thomas who recovered from his illness (and disappointment of not being able to run the GUCR) took part in the inaugural Norfolk 100k finishing 3rd in a time of 10hrs 49minutes. Ian described the course as stunning with some challenging sections and does not recommend that people consider this a 100km qualifying option for future Spartathlon events.
Everyone else must be training hard as there are few other race results to report aside from Paul Stout and I who took part in the Endure 24 event (in different teams/categories) which was great fun and even resulted in a rare win for the team.
We have had a few questions being asked by team members and so I have put together a short ‘advice’ piece based on information provided by previous Spartathlon entrants.
Martin Illot is probably our most experienced Spartathlete taking part this year. 2015 will be Martins 11th running of the event with 5 finishes and 5 defeats to his name Martin will be aiming to tip the success rate in his favour this year.
Martin admits he has not changed his training regime much during this period but has tried to remain reasonably fit and has been largely injury free. The only significant factor is that he is now a lot wiser (10 years older) than the first time he ran the event in 2005 where he kindly acknowledges the benefit and advice he received from Peter Foxall and John Tyskiewicz (who have racked up around 20 finishes between them).
As a regular GUCR runner, he has noticed a correlation between his GUCR finish times and Spartathlon finish times (so no pressure at all this year Dan, after your fantastic GUCR run!).
Martin has a number of ultra events lined up in preparation for this years event but would recommend people target some hard marathon running in the build up and suggests at a good sub 3.30 marathon would be better prepared than an experienced but slower ultra runner. On a personal note, whilst there needs to be a balance between solid road running and long distance runs, I have tailored my approach this year to include a few more marathons in the build up based on my last experience.
Pre-Race Build Up
James wrote an article on his blog “How to screw up the Spartathlon in the next 16 weeks” the full version which you can read here:
James reported that there was no right answer and his experience showed that he had approached each of his three finishes differently.
His preparation for his first event in 2009 was essentially lots of short(ish) and fast(ish) training. On race day he admits to setting out a bit too keen but was way ahead of the cut offs and got there in the end.
His second effort involved doing less training but more racing and even the UTMB a month out. However, James described this as his ‘smartest’ run, he ran his own race, didn’t get carried away with anyone else and achieved his best time despite getting to the 50 mile mark an hour slower than the first finish.
James Adams and Martin Illot pictured
His third finish in 2012 was more of a case of guts and will power over good training and build up. James describes a few poor months of racing, not being in his best condition but still showed true grit and determination to finish.
What does this mean… he neatly quips.. ”There’s more than one way to kiss a foot”.
In terms of what not do, James suggests.
- Doing too many big races. I have none between now and Spartathlon and I suggest one more maximum. I know it’s hard to say no to stuff and there is so much more out there. SDW100, NDW100, UTMB (pushing it but possible I think). You can count every 100+ mile run you have done as training for this.
- Neglecting speed – doing so many long long slow miles that a 9 minute mile feels like a sprint. Don’t just run yourself in the ground trying to clock up the miles. Park runs, 10ks. It’s all good.
- Destroying your confidence – You really need to believe you can finish this. It’s a bloody hard race and is not a given. You need to be confident in your ability to run. This confidence will be battered by a string of underperformances in a load of big races over the summer. You may be capable of a 20-24 hour 100 miler but if you are ruining yourself plodding from race to race finishing in 29+ hours you are going to feel like a shit runner. Feeling like a shit runner will not get you to the end.
- Completely neglecting the heat. It’s hard to get heat training done when we live in the UK and summer has just gone. Take any opportunity that comes.
- Only just qualifying. the 10.30 100k is something you need to do to have the speed for the early race. If that is the furthest you have gone then you may struggle later.
Someone asked about drop bag strategy for the race. Personally, I found that whilst the major checkpoints were well stocked with food and supplies the interim checkpoints only supplied drinks and light snacks (nuts, crisps etc). Therefore, I ensured that I put extra food in drop bags throughout the race so I knew I had access to foods I wanted at regular internals and could adopt the ‘eat little and often’ strategy.
In terms of placement, I went with a simple strategy of leaving a small drop bag at every fifth checkpoint (No 5, 10, 15, 20 etc). The reason for this was it was a regular distance apart (10-15 miles) and it was easy to remember! I then worked out where I would be during the race and ensured I had equipment I may need available at the right time, such as things like my head torch available well before it was dark, an extra layer at an evening checkpoint, some spare batteries placed at a checkpoint during the night and some spare sun cream at the next mornings checkpoint. I also took over some electrolyte powders and bought a load of bottles of water and made up some energy drinks for each bag aswell.
As a contingency, I put a spare of each item in later checkpoint drop bags (i.e. a spare head torch) for contingency purposes in case I missed anything. All of your drop bags are returned after the race so you can collect all your items the next day.
That worked for me but others may have different approaches, please feel free to let us your have hints and tips!
We had a question about insurance. I’ve used DogTag insurance before which were reasonably inexpensive (about £40 for the trip) but never had to claim so unable to vouch for the service.
Any other suggestions?
Cutting it fine!
Spartathlon is well known for the pressure of its unforgiving cut off’s. It all looks do-able on paper but sometimes that’s a completely different reality to when you’re actually there, the quads are hurting, the legs are cramping and it’s hot, damn hot.
Mark Cockbain has completed the Spartathlon event 4 times and first attempted it in 2004 where he reached mile 92 but admitted to setting off too quickly and running out of steam before retiring. He returned in 2005 with a strategy to set off a little slower and almost scrape through each of the checkpoints and knew he would be up against the clock through the whole race. Mark describes his race against the cut off’s as follows.
Mark reached the marathon checkpoint in 4 hours, and the 50 mile checkpoint in 8.45 some 45 mins ahead of the cut offs. 12 hours in and he started too feel sick probably due to the amount of gels and snacks but conscious that he needed the energy in the system.
Mark Cockain (Left) and James Adams (Middle Left)
His picked his head torch up at 70 miles but this failed to work but was loaned a small handheld torch as he pushed his way up some long hilly inclines. By this time his legs were stiff and blisters were becoming annoying.
Getting over the Sangas Pass was described as a ‘hands and knees effort’ and progress was slow as he caught his badly blistered feet on sharp rocs. Getting to the top was a huge mental boost (statistics show that the fewer runners DNF if they get this far as cut off times become a little more relaxed) but his buffer had been cut to 25 minutes.
Going down the mountain was harder and involved several falls but he managed to break into a run when back on solid path running into the village of Nestani and cutting it very fine arriving less than a minute before the cut off. The pressure was on with no buffer ad he gritted his teeth as fast as he could ignoring the pain of his sore feet gaining 15 minutes before the heavens opened on a second climb. Mark describes himself as being on autopilot passing the checkpoints shortly before the cut offs, hanging on to the belief that he could make it, ignoring the pain from his sore feet and quads. The scent of the finish was their but not quite tangible as he now became mentally aswell as physically exhausted.
Finally, he spied the town of Sparta and knew he had to just hold onto to his best shuffling pace. He continued to push but the town doesn’t seem to get any closer, he runs and shuffles and then suddenly he’s within the walls and streets of the town and past the final checkpoint. Forty minutes to go and finally some real belief that he’s going to make it.
The roar of the crowd is uplifting as he makes those final few steps to the Statue of Leonidas. He made it in 35 hours 52 minutes.
Mark completed the event again in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The full race report can be found here:
Mark Woolley has completed the Spartathlon race 3 times and wrote an excellent preparation article. In summary, Marks key tips include:
- Train on roads.
- Good consistent mileage.
- Prepare for the psychological battles.
- Hope that little bit of luck is on your side!
The full article can be found at the link below is well worth a read.
Mark Woolley and Paul Ali pictured
That’s it for June’s update. Remember we have a Facebook Group set up here https://www.facebook.com/groups/102781016511694/ if you would like to drop by and interact with the current team, friends, supporter and previous participants.
Keep up the training.
(Thanks to Mimi Anderson for putting together the latest team update)
The British Spartathlon Team has been out in force over the past few weeks as the Spartathlon is now only 16 weeks away (GULP)
A few results:
THAMES PATH 100
Ian Thomas – 19:38:04
Mimi Anderson – 20:06:41 (2nd Lady)
Tremayne Cowdry 20:20:00
Paul Corderoy – 22:49:50
GRAND UNION CANAL RACE
2015 Grand Union Canal Race with 4 members of the British Spartathlon Team (Photo by Ross Langton)
An outstanding performance by Dan Lawson who absolutely smashed Pat Robin’s record in an incredible time of 22:16 taking 3:21 off the record! I’m looking forward to seeing what Dan is capable of achieving in September.
Dan was interviewed on Talk Ultra, you can listen to the podcast here:
Mimi Anderson – 32:28 (1st Lady) race report here
Paul Rowlinson – 32:30
Paul Stout – 33:50
Paul Ali – 34:55 race report here
Martin Ilott – 37:15
John Volanthen – 40hrs
Neil Cloke – 46:19:57
Neil Cloke finishing the Hardmoors 160 (Photo from Neils Facebook Page / Kelvin Dunk)
KENT ROAD RUNNERS MARATHON
Paul Ali – 3:18
Paul Ali pictured at the Kent Roadrunner (Photo by TZ Runs)
CALDERDALE WAY ULTRA
Sonny Burrows completed the Calderdale Way Ultra,a 50 (ish) mile hilly ultra with over 10,000 ft of ascent in 11hr 40mins coming in at 22nd place. Sonny commented that it was a great course with stunning views, expertly organised and highly recommended.
In terms of upcoming events, Paul Ali and Paul Stout have a few marathons planned as part of their build up and Sean Maley who finished JOGLE in April will by flying out to India in August to take part in the 333km La High Ultra (now that’s a tough race!)
Our very own Rob Pinnington did a 24hour race in Steenbergen in May and in August will be taking part in a 100km race in Leipzig together with a few marathons.
Rob pictured at the Steenbergen 24 hour race
Jamie Holmes having successfully completed the Brighton Marathon after recovering from an Achilles issue is now building up his distances by doing a 35 miler in the Peak District in July and the last two legs o the Thames Path (Windsor & Richmond Ultras) in August.
Jon Steele continues to push himself hard, he Ran the Hardmoors 110 a couple of weeks ago, the 50 mile Tabular Hills Route, Dukeries Ultra 40 miles, all three races in the space of 8 days. In July he has the Lakeland 100, Lyke Wake Race (40) and the Crosses (54).
Ian Thomas who set a new 100 mile PB in the TP100 and unfortunately wasn’t able to start the GUCR due to a virus is now doing the Norfolk 100k in June, together with a couple of marathons and the Leeds to Liverpool Canal 130 miles in August.
Izzy Wykes who run a great time in the World 24hrs in Turin in April, came away with team Bronze and 8th lady overall is now putting the finishing touches to her training for the Lakeland 100 in July.
Finally, Tremayne Cowdry has the multi-stage Dragons Back race across the length of Wales in two weeks time.
I took two weeks off running after the GUCR to make sure I was fully recovered, I was disappointed with both my TP100 and GUCR results, but as I hadn’t been able to do any speed work due to an issue with my left leg I really don’t think I could have done any better. I have no more races planned at the moment but will be working hard on my speed, plus I have started Yoga so hopefully this will help my ageing body more flexible! I have a hiking holiday in France for a week so that will help strengthen my legs.
We have an amazing team of athletes going out to Athens in September, everyone is training hard and working towards kissing the foot of King Leonidas As you can see everyone has been extremely busy and working hard towards a successful Spartathlon. Stay injury free and good luck to the Team.
Welcome to the first of our regular updates charting the training and progress of British runners who are part of the 2015 British Spartathlon Team.
There has been a huge amount of activity over the past few weeks with the organisation of the British Spartathlon Team.
Firstly, thanks to some sterling work from Rob Pinnington organising the kit and Paul Stout who has raised some sponsorship towards the cost of team kit which will include Runners T-Shirts, Crew T-Shirts, Buffs and ‘Desert’ Hats. The buffs and hats have now been paid for and we are awaiting delivery and we are currently collecting the runners orders for the T-Shirts.
I enclose some photographs of the kit design and should add our thanks and credit to Mark Burnell for the design work. All of this work will mean that the runners are visibly represented as “British Team” at the event.
I would also like to use this opportunity to publicly thank out sponsors without whose support we wouldn’t have been able to design and purchase the team kit. Our thanks go to:
Dave Ireland from Birmingham Runner for sponsoring the 2015 Spartathlon Team and supply each of the runners with the official team kit including crew T-Shirts.
Corr Recruitment who kindly made a monetary donation to the team which will be put towards kit and equipment. Thanks to Daniel Corr.
Bee Friends have kindly made a monetary donation to the team which will be put towards kit and equipment. Thanks to Lorna Newson.
Newbury Runners have kindly made a monetary donation to the team which will be put towards kit and equipment.
Thank you to Keith Flood from Floodies for providing the team with some discounted Injinjui Desert hats which will be vital for protection of the runners during the race.
The team also received separate monetary donations from Spartathlete Paul Corderoy who has kindly passed on the ‘cash back’ received from recommending the Transferwise payment scheme for making payments abroad. If you haven’t yet paid your Spartathlon entry fee then you may wish to check out this cost effective way of transferring this money abroad using the link here.
In addition, Rocktape have kindly agreed to provide some kinesiology tape for the team to use during the race.
Spartathlete James Ellis has kindly taken on the role as Press Officer for the team and has been busy putting together a press release and making contact with national and local news agencies in order to spread the word about the British Spartathlon Team.
We will post links and details of any runners or articles featured in the press. Our aims here are to increase the profile of British runners undertaking this race and also to raise some more sponsorship to support the team.
The first report to feature was an article on Peter Goldring which can be found 2015 Spartathlon – Echo News Peter Goldring.
Paul Stout and Sonny Burrows were also featured in their local newspapers (pictures below).
Paul Stouts press article
Sonny Burrows press article
Hopefully, we will see a few more press articles appearing over the next few weeks.
Many of the 2015 Spartathletes have been in race action during April.
The most high profile race was the World 24 Hour Championships (a 24 Hour track based run) which saw Pat Robbins achieve 7th overall and Dan Lawson achieve 24th. Combined with the efforts of other Britsh Runners (including 2013 Spartathlete Robbie Britton who achieved 3rd overall) the Men’s team won the Team Gold which was a brilliant result.
Isobel Wykes (8th position), Debbie Martin-Consani (12th position) and Sharon Law (13th position) were also in action and they successfully earned an Team European Bronze for their efforts as well as achieving high placings individually in the ladies competition.
This was a fantastic achievement for the team who were competing at the highest level of competition and demonstrated that we have some strong UK runners taking part in the Spartathlon this year.
Team GB Pictured (Picture by Dan Lawson)
Other athletes were also taking part in races including; John Volanthen who took part in the South Downs Way 50, finishing in (8.56). Paul Stout completed the Compton 40 miler in (6.42) whilst I (Paul Ali) completed The Oner, an 80 odd mile run along the hilly South West Coastal Path. You can find my race report here.
Paul Ali taking part in The Oner
Well done to Ian Thomas who took part in the Bungay Black Dog Marathon where he came 4th out of 175 runners with a time of 3hrs 2mins in his first marathon in over 2 years.
Finally, a ‘huge’ shout out to Sean Maley who is currently midway through his JOGLE (John O’Groats to Lands End run) and is due to complete this on the weekend. Five runners started the event but only Sean Maley is left and is due to finish this 860 mile run this weekend.
Here’a s link to a local press article detailing Sean’s current progress here. Hopefully, Sean will write a few words on this epic achievement when he completes the event and puts his feet up for a few days.
Sean taking part in the JOGLE (picture from Seans Facebook Page)
Good luck to anyone who is running in the Virgin London Marathon this week.
I would also like to formally introduce you to the Photography Team who will be following the British Spartathlon Team in September.
Sarah Dryden has kindly offered her services as Team Photographer and she will be supported by Russ Bustley, Richard Tullet & Sandra Hopkins who will be providing valuable support/driving etc. as part of the official photography team, thanks guys your support is much appreciated.
Next Update May
That’s it for moment, we will put together another update in May where potentially 9 of the 2015 British Spartathlon Team members are taking part in the Grand Union Canal Race a 145 mile non-stop footrace from Birmingham to London which will be a good benchmark for people’s fitness and ability to complete Spartathlon a few months later.