The 8th International Ultramarathon Festival took place at the re-purposed Ellinikon International Airport in Athens starting March 18th 2013. Staggered starts bring all events – the 72 hour, 48 hour and the 24 hour to a simultaneous close.
This year saw a return to Athens for Wolfgang Schwerk, Sarah Barnett, Susan Brocklebank and the 2012 1000 mile race winner Nomikos Nikitas. Among those new to the event were Michael Vanicek preparing for the World 24 hour Championships and seasoned multiday campaigner, Bularian Radi Milev.
Weather conditions were warmer than in northern Europe but still a little cooler than in – previous races and the first day there was some occasional drizzle which cleared up by the second day.
At the end of that first day, Schwerk led Michael Vanicek after Vanicek had taken an early lead and Sue Brocklebank had a few kilometers on Sarah Barnett while Martina Hausmann struggled with a knee injury. Nomikos moved into second place, Sarah Barnett moved ahead of Sue Brocklebank and from then on Barnett continued to put distance between them. By the end of the third day, Schwerk was also having problems and decided to withdraw from the race. Peter Kluka was having a hard time in the middle section of the race as was Martina and she decided to stop on the fourth day.
Nikos Thanos moved into third behind the quick moving Vanicek but by the end of the fifth day the Greeks were in control with Bulgarian Radi Milev moving into third. Sarah Barnett moved into fourth spot overall on the last day, running 113 km.
A smaller field in the 72 hour race saw five runners battling it out and it was Ioannis Papamichail who led after the first day. Fellow Greek Ilias Karaiosif cut the lead to 8 km by the end of the second day. Over the next 12 hours the lead swung back and forth several times before Papamichail stopped and Karaiosif pulled away with Israel’s new multiday star pulling ahead of Papamichail in the final hour to finish second in his first 72 hour event.
The 48 hour race also had a relatively large field with 24 runners and when the dust had settled down by the twelfth hour, it had become a two horse race between Konstantinos Anagnostou and Dimitris Besiris pulling away with both men taking the lead until Anagnostou was forced to take a break which Besiris made the most of, establishing a lead that he maintained until the end. At the midpoint Trond Sjavic (NOR) held a much more closely contested third place but by 26 hours was passed by Panagiotis Kalogiros who held off Trond and the attentions of Stathis Karachristos who was finally edged by the Norwegian stage race specialist into fifth place. Dutch multiday runner Ria Buten was the only rider in the womens event.
The 24 hour race was a busier affair too with 43 runners though still only two women participants. The top six runners surpassed 200 km which is a healthy sign and indeed looking at all the results, Greek men won all the races.
At the award ceremony, race director Costas Baxevanis announced plans to hold a 1000 mile race in 2014 as part of the Ultramarathon Festival. Details will be available later in the year on the race website.
Full race results are available on the race website: Dayrunners.gr
Some photos have been posted on the facebook page at: Athens Ultramarathon Festival