Dean Karnazes says ‘The Road To Sparta’ captures Spartathlon’s uniqueness

Dean Karnazes says ‘The Road To Sparta’ captures Spartathlon’s uniqueness

One of the featured amateur runners is project manager Rob Pinnington, with whom viewers can easily identify with.

Greek-American ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes has no doubt about it: Spartathlon, the 246-kilometer race that traces the footsteps of ancient messenger Pheidippides is uniquely special, and he is happy there is a documentary out that encapsulates the drama, excitement, agony and ecstasy he experienced when he first attempted this run from Athens to Sparta.

“The Road To Sparta”, a 60-minute award-winning film that as of October 11 is out on DVD, offers runners who have done this unrivaled annual race a strong souvenir of this unique experience, and to all the rest of us – the uninitiated – a powerful sense of this exceptional battle with one’s self that this race constitutes.

“This historic run from Athens to Sparta is the stuff of legend, following the ancient footpath of Pheidippides, the original ultramarathoner,” says Karnazes to Kathimerini English Edition, as he has come back to Greece for the Navarino Challenge in Messinia.

He goes on to confess that “I have attempted the Spartathlon on three occasions, though only succeeded on one of those. My relationship with the race is bittersweet, an epic Greek drama as I have really struggled. The Spartathlon is a race that must be respected and revered no matter who you are or how hard you have trained.”

The movie follows Karnazes in 2014 when he did the race setting his own conditions to himself regarding food, as he chose to swap the modern nutritional devices for traditional Greek food such as dried figs and pasteli. It also follows three other runners, including a Greek nurse, Angela Terzi.

“The Road To Sparta”, by Ragged Rock Films, is actually a fairly poetic impression of the athletic pilgrimage to human grandeur, to ancient Greek history and to the timeless, universal values embedded in this race.

You get a taste of this mix of grief, determination and conscience of history that makes you ache and triumph just as you watch it, not to mention the beautiful setting of the Greek landsce-today.grs. The original score by Old House Playground, a British-Greek band, adds to the effect with its touching melodies.

It also offers some very useful tips for running enthusiasts, along with explaining the runners’ jargon such as what the dreaded “death bus” is…

“It captures the spirit of the race beautifully, the ups and downs, the highs and lows, victory and defeat. It is an honest film, raw and emotional. And the original soundtrack stirs the soul. The Road to Sparta documentary has won many prestigious film awards around the world. And when you see the movie you understand why. It is really powerful,” says Karnazes.

True, “The Road To Sparta” has already received several distinctions, such as being Highly Commended at the 2016 British Sports Journalism Awards and receiving the Best Documentary award at the Satisfied Eye Film Festival (UK) in 2018.

One would say this documentary is about Spartathlon. In fact it is about knowing thyself.

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