Eight times are not enough for fur heinlein

It is and remains an adventure for marika heinlein – the race from athens to sparta, a classic. The ultra runner from the wiesentheide suburb of geesdorf recently completed the course for the eighth time, which is considered by many to be the run par excellence. In 33 hours and 52 minutes they covered the 246 kilometers from greece's capital athens to sparta. The distance is based on a historical event from ancient times.

In the overall ranking marika heinlein was on place 146 among the total of 265 runners who arrived in sparta within the time limit of 36 hours. In the women's classification this meant 28th place for the 55-year old. 35 runners from germany had registered for the race, among them only three women. Marika heinlein not only stayed under the time limit – she was also almost one and a half hours faster than last year. Two years before she had to give up at kilometer 60 due to exhaustion. She was correspondingly satisfied this time. "I reached the finish line there for the eighth time. There is only one woman in germany who has done this so many times."

Physically she had no major problems this time, also because the temperatures were pleasant for running this year. The only difficult part of the route was the tsangas pass on the peloponnese, at an altitude of about 1200 meters. Already one and a half hour before it was raining. The runners pass this partly gravelled, steep and narrow part of the route to the pass at night, so that rough caution is required there. "The visibility conditions," says heinlein, "were very difficult. Despite the headlamp, almost nothing could be seen."

As in previous years, she had run the course a few days before in order to be well prepared for it. "I know the spartathlon almost completely by now and know what to expect. I would never approach the race recklessly. You can also not take anything for granted."At the furrowed tsangas-pass heinlein virtually collected a german female runner. Together they covered the distance almost to the end. A new experience, because everyone mostly goes his own pace. "But this time it was a good fit," she says.

"Despite the headlamp, you could see almost nothing." marika heinlein on the most difficult spartathlon passage

On the 80 kilometers after that until the finish in sparta, a few smaller climbs awaited you again. In addition the distance led partly along strongly used federal highways, thus everything else than simple conditions. Only the last 15 kilometers before the finish are closed off. When the athletes arrived at the marketplace in sparta, there was once again a lively atmosphere. Children welcomed the runners on bicycles to escort them – and at the finish line the guests of honor were already gathered together with the bums and the spectators.


"When you enter the finish line, that's the crowning point. There's nothing like it," says heinlein, trying to bring the myth of the spartathlon closer to home. A plaited laurel wreath, a bowl of water from the river and this time a golden shrub with olive leaves were the rewards for all those who arrived.

The award ceremony was also held on saturday evening. The men's race was won by alexander sorokin from latvia in 22 hours and four minutes, the women's race by patryzia beresnowska from poland in 24:48 hours. And the next day the mayor of the castle again traditionally donated lunch for the athletes. One day later the second award ceremony including a buffet took place in a hotel in athens. For marika heinlein, it is certain that she will return to her "nonplusultra" in sparta next year.

Her dream is to make it ten – in other words, to reach the finish line ten times. Eleven times she has been there, eight times she has reached the goal so far. So there are still two ankunfte missing.

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