Olympus Marathon (44km +3200m) is the fourth Sky Classic round of the Skyrunner World Series, racing over Mt Olympus in the North of Greece. West gives a brief overview from the race, below-
The legendary Greek messenger, Philippides, is said to have run forty odd kilometres after the Battle of Marathon, and announced to Athens that the Greeks had crushed the invading Persians. He then collapsed and died, sealing his legend for good. I can’t help but feel, however, our old mate Phill, was a touch mellow dramatic. By many accounts his run was mostly flat. He could have been scaling the seat of the Gods, while racing eight hundred other mad runners.
The Olympus Marathon Skyrace kicked off with a flat 5km sunrise jaunt leading to the base of the mountain. Fittingly, Local legend, Dimitris Theodorakakos was quick to sprint off the line and remove his top in his characteristically godlike style. I couldn’t help but laugh, “it just got real”. I didn’t know how to pace this first section with a +2700m climb looming, I possibly took it too easy. However, I found myself in good company on the climb with the Prozis team. We made up steady progress and many places on the climb and ascended the forest to the peaks above.
The 2.7km height differential from sea level created one doozy of a view. A lens really doesn’t do it justice. Supporters screamed encouragement at the summit meadows, and before long, the rocky switchbacks I had expected were coming thick and fast. With multiple lines, and trail spaghetti, it was a battle trying to make sense of where the descending trail would snake next. I eventually found some rhythm in the trees, and picked up a couple of places along the river valley.
The trail descended through the streets of Litochoro past blasting supporters, whistles and drums. It was an immense and fitting finish for the race. I am stoked with 11th place overall and an experience that blew my expectations out of the water.