Spartathlon, that's why according to science it is a "positive split" competition

A scientific study analyzed 9 years of results from the iconic Spartathlon. The portrait of a “positive split” race has come out.

Spartathlon, a name that makes you shiver just to pronounce it. For those few runners who have never heard of her, she is the ultra of ultramarathons.

history of the race

From Athens to Sparta, 245 km of running, over 20 hours (for the best) on the rugged roads traveled by the legendary Fidippide (“inventor” of the marathon) to ask for help during the Greco-Persian war. Where history and myth meet, the science of sport has also arrived to deepen the progress of this historic race.

scientific study

A recent study published in the journal Sports Medicine analyzed the race pace of 2600 runners (87% men and 13% women) who participated between 2011 and 2019. Therefore, a broad study in terms of numbers and time based on the time of ten checkpoints at strategic points of the route. From here the calculation and comparison of the race averages organized by section, age and gender of the runners.

the race pace

The final interesting fact is that most of the finishers have run the Spartathlon with the same pacing pattern. Excluding the fastest and slowest group, most runners kept one average speed which decreased up to the 7th control and then increased in the final part. This trend (albeit at different speeds) was recorded in all groups, different by gender and by age. The result is linked to the altitude of the route, which first climbs up to 1200m and then descends. The positive split is therefore the characterizing feature of this race. For the two “extreme” control groups, that of the fastest and that of the slowest, the average speed remained more constant. If you intend to participate in the Spartathlon, take this study into account: it could be useful in managing the race.

selection at the entrance

Be careful though. To participate in this race, it is necessary to prove that you are a true ultra runner. In the previous three years, you must have completed a 12 hour race with at least 120 km (for men) or 110 km (for women), or have run 180/170 km in a 24 hour period. No beginners at Spartathlon: history is made here.

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