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Connecting Ultrarunners Across The Globe

International 100+ UltraRunning Foundation

US Spartathlete Award

                                                                     by  Claire Nana

                                                                           September 2021

Confucius famously said, “By three methods we learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.” This year, more than 300 athletes from more than 70 countries will attempt a journey which can only be described as an ​aspiration toward wisdom.

The Spartathlon, although it is a journey of 153 miles from Athens to Sparta, was not intended to be a test of endurance in the physical sense. Rather, it is a study of the soul, spirit, and mind. Like Aristotle, the young orphan thrust into Plato’s Academy with little more than a desire to be taught, the athletes who gather in the dark in the center of the Acropolis, are orphans in the most complete sense.

They do not know what lies before them, and they are left with nothing more than their God given resources to complete the journey. What they may find, however, is that they truly do not know not only what lies ahead, but also what lies within.

Confucius would tell us that there is no enjoyment without enduring. What we cannot endure, we cannot enjoy, and for those who will not rise to the challenge there is no joy is a journey left incomplete.

Pain is the reference point from which euphoria grows. It is the dividing line between that which is illusory and that which is reality. It is the discipline of suffering, that tension of the soul in unhappiness, Niche wrote, “which cultivates its’ strength.” It is the enduring of our painful experiences that gives way to the inventiveness, creativity, and wisdom to turn suffering into great strength.

Spartathlon Winner's Monument - Sparta

Inspired by the Spartathlete’s Monument in Sparta, this year, the U.S. Spartathlon Team will recognize one American Male Athlete and one American Female Athlete who embodies the true spirit of the race – simple, humble, and powerful beyond words. The American Spartathlete of the Year Award will be given to the fastest male American Spartathlete and the fastest female American Spartathlete. In holding the award for the year, these exceptional athletes accept not just the honor bestowed upon them, but also the responsibility to live up to the values the race embodies, before passing it on to the following year’s athletes.

                                                                photos by Elias Pergantis

The American Female & Male Spartathlete Awards

The award will then be passed on, traveling from athlete to athlete, each year recognizing new greatness.

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