Hundreds Take Part in Historic Athens-Sparta Race (video)



400 athletes from around the world began on Friday morning their quest to finish the Spartathlon, one of the most demanding long-distance races on the planet.

The starting line was the ancient Odeon of Herodes Atticus at the foot of Acropolis, and the athletes will cover a distance of 250 km (155 miles) before they reach the finishing line in Sparta, sometime Saturday afternoon.

For the next 36 hours they will test their mental and physical endurance braving the rain and the gale force winds. In practice, they will be running towards the cyclone which is expected to hit southern Greece on Saturday.

The historic race revives the footsteps of Pheidippides, an ancient Athenian long distance runner, who in 490 BC, before the battle of Marathon, was sent to Sparta to seek help in the war between the Greeks and the Persians.

According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, Pheidippides arrived in Sparta the day after his departure from Athens.