Moments of harmony and deep emotions on the way to Sparta! Κύριο

Από 11 Οκτ 2014

My kiss to the foot of the statue of Leonidas stops my race time, but it's only when I lay my cheek on the foot, that I realize that I have finished this wonderful race. I run the 245 km separating Athens from Sparta in 22 hours 30 minutes. A bottomless emotional flow overwhelms me. A tear drops on my face, and all the feelings that preceded this moment are printed in my heart and will stay inside me forever. It’s not the first time that I finish this race, but every time I feel unexplainable and deep emotions. I immerse myself in the most authentic way in this unique experience. Of course, the day before the race I didn't miss the tour in the Acropolis, to breathe the air of Athens.

As usual I start the race in the last position, then one step after the other, one breath after the other, and the continuous encouragement from all the Italian runners and friends, who I meet along the way.

The first 30 km are not very nice, characterized by heavy traffic. We see refineries and a lot of garbage on the sides of the streets. After this warm up period, nutrition and hydration must be continuous.

After Megara a breathtaking view opens in front of my eyes: a stunning blue sea flow through the coast. Several children are waiting for us along the way. In this part I run some kilometers with Florian, Daniele, Marco, Jon and Joao, and we encouraging each other. Dark clouds are approaching, obscuring the sun; a storm is ready to start. In some minutes it rains heavily and mighty winds blow against us. This situation continues for about one hour.


After the Corinth impressive isthmus, a vastness of rolling hills sheltered with olive groves and vineyards. A beautiful passage next to the ruins of ancient Corinth let me fly. Assos is always an energy spreader: many children chase and flank me asking for a signature on school notebooks or for a touch. The road begins to climb gently up to a couple of hard uphills at Soulinari.

In these villages several old ladies gives me small flowers and sprigs of basil, wishing me to reach Sparta. Simple kind deeds that I really appreciate and they fill my heart. My car becomes a sort of a greenhouse, and I carry some of these auspicious gifts in my shorts pocket until the finish. A rolling territory will accompany me for the rest of the race, while in the background very bare heights stand out in the skyline.


At Nemea, some people give me greetings of encouragement and one of them runs and reaches me, offering me as present some grapes bunches, that I can’t reject. Two girls come with me with their bicycles in the downhill that leads to Malandreni, taking care to keep away the wild dogs. A crowd of cheerful guys wait for me and chat with me in English. We are close to sunset and the wind rises, so I get the torch and wear dry clothes; now I am ready for the shadows and the cold of the night, heartened I run again. In these villages crowds of euphoric and kind people welcomes me. It is a bath of enthusiasm for me.

The night and the Parthenius Mount climb are facing me. I overtake it in a very positive way. In Sangas, the entire village is deployed to greet me with a very warm "kalispera".

I see my friends from Sparta driving towards me in the night; my hearth is full of joy and in the last checkpoint where the crew wait for me, they stand close to my girlfriend that supports me all day long. I never ask information about my time and my followers distance; I'm simply enjoying my race. Everything seems to be easy and wonderful!


During the race I only drink water mixed to sugar and electrolytes and some coke glasses. I feel no crisis, neither lack of energy and I’m so surprised about the easiness of my run. I feel very well, fully enjoying my race and I share greetings with all the volunteers and the persons I meet during the whole night in the villages.

40 km before finishing the race, I have a blister under the foot and a sore tendon, but I switch off every pain sensation; pain does not stop me and I fall in a state of partial unconsciousness. It looks like I live a wonderful dream. I feel in a wonderful state of grace, I'm fluttering in an unexplainable kind of trance. My thoughts fly to the epic deeds of Pheidippides, the victory against the Persians that have allowed the Western civilization to preserve the arts, classical civilization and democracy. My thoughts also fly to my supporting crew, and to my parents and friends who are waiting for many hours in front of a monitor, that does not seem to update ever and ever.


Two young torch bearers run with me, in the last straight road. Two hundred meters from the king Leonidas statue, I hear the screams: "Bravo!"

Amazement, astonishment, wonder, awe, I cannot distinguish dream from reality again. The rituals reserved for the finisher begin: an olive wreath is putted on my head, I drink the water of the river Evrotas from an ampoule, but only after the embrace of Mr Tsiakiris I feel fully present to myself. A refreshing shower welcomes me in my Spartan friends’ house, but despite having spent the night in the race I cannot sleep, and as soon as I can I rush back to the arrival way. I’ll wait my friends at the race that finish during the whole day: they embrace me and it is still an intense flow of joy, of unforgettable and inexplicable emotions.

The word that better explain this Spartathlon edition is gift: a gift has been this long trip shared with my crew, the unforgettable kindness of volunteers, the huge number of hugs received, the welcome of common people in Sparta and in the small villages that I crossed during the race, the absolutely surprising victory in spite of the presence of runners faster and tougher than me.

I love to run. Ultramarathons are for me the best way to extract my emotions and feel in harmony with the nature and the people around me. Up to me, the Spartathlon is much more than an ultramarathon. I have never seen so kind and involved volunteers; my heart is warmed all along the way to Sparta.

Ivan Cudin


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