The First Indian To Successfully Complete the World’s Toughest, 246 Km Spartathlon Race
It takes the heart and blood of a Spartan soldier to complete a 246 kilometers gruelling race, often known as the toughest in the world.
Kieren D’Souza, a 23 year old Nagpur native has become the first Indian to successfully qualify and complete the Spartathlon race, an annual run between Athens and Sparta. D'Souza completed the race in 33 hours, 2 minutes and 25 seconds and stood 86th among 370 participants. It was for the first time that an Indian flag fluttered over the finish line in Sparta near the statue of the great Greek King Leonidas. Thanks to this young Indian ultra-runner.
The cut off time for the race was 36 hours. During the race, Kieren created a new 100-mile record of 18 hours 37 minutes, the first by an Indian. He was at the 60th position 50 km from the finish line when his legs started giving him trouble. In an interview to TOI, Keiren said, “It was only about 50km from the finish when the pain around my left shin developed, that I felt I would take longer than expected to reach the finish line. Over the next 50km, I kept setting small targets and finally reached with more than 2 hours 35 minutes left for the cut-off”. The Spartathlon is said to be the world’s toughest race because only 50 percent of the participants have qualified in the 34 years history of the race. The rules for selection for the race are very strict owing to the greater distance to be covered.
The Spartathlon race is said to trace the path taken by an Athenian messenger Pheidippides, who travelled from Athens to Sparta on foot to get help in the battle of Marathon against the Persians. Once he finished the journey, he sat down and died. This is a challenge for the ultra runners.
Kieren's father Peter D'Souza said to TOI, "Throughout the stretch, Kieren maintained a comfortable speed, reaching the 98th position at checkpoint 28, which was at a distance of 100km from the start. At the 47th check point (100 mile mark), he had moved into the 64th position. At the 60th check (195.5km from the start and 51km from the finish) point Kieren was at the 60th position. However, soon his leg gave trouble and he developed inflammation of a tendon".
"It was only about 50km from the finish when the pain around my left shin developed, that I felt I would take longer than expected to reach the finish line. Over the next 50km, I kept setting small targets and finally reached with more than 2 hours 35 minutes left for the cut-off," the ultra runner told TOI.
Vijay Goel, Minister of State of Youth Affairs & Sports(IC) & Water Resources and Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping, took to twitter to congratulate the young man for his incredible achievements.
Congratulations Nagpurian Kieren D'Souza for becoming the first Indian to complete the 246-km Spartathlon race in Greece— Nitin Gadkari (@nitin_gadkari) October 3, 2016
Kieren started preparing for the race four years ago and in a very short time span he has achieved feats that will be mentioned in the Indian sports history with glory. After such great achievements Keiren is all geared up for his future races. He says that it’s just the beginning.