The international “Spartathlon” ultra-distance race will take place on September 27th and September 28th, in honor of the Athenian runner Pheidippides, who covered the 246 Km journey from Athens to Sparta in just one day. A total of 333 athletes from 35 countries, including 45 from Greece, will take part in this year’s race.
The purpose of each “Spartathlete” runner is to complete the grueling journey, since their only reward is an olive wreath and water. “Spartathlon”finds its roots in the ancient Olympic spirit and remains faithful to it, steering clear of the commercialization that characterizes contemporary sports. The Spyros Louis Cup and the “Spartathlon” ultramarathon are connected by a common historical background, which was a major factor in the Foundation’s decision to offer its support.
It was in the same spirit that the Foundation acted in April 2012, when it announced the acquisition, in an international auction, of Breal’s Silver Cup, which was awarded to Spyros Louis during the inaugural modern Olympic Games of 1896 in Athens, thus ensuring that it would remain in Greece.
Taking into account the Cup’s significant historical and sentimental value, as well as what it symbolizes for our country, the Foundation fulfilled its initial commitment and immediately made the Cup accessible to all, by exhibiting it, from September 2012 onwards, at the Acropolis Museum, where the general public can view it free of charge.
The public exhibition in Athens and this particular collaboration with the Acropolis Museum has given thousands of Greeks, as well as foreign visitors, the opportunity to admire the Cup and find out more about its history. According to the Acropolis Museum’s official data, from September 2012 to September 2013, over a million people, including 154,000 students, visited the Museum and had the opportunity to see the Cup and learn about its history and the Greek Marathon runner.
The general public’s continued interest in the Spyros Louis Cup led the Foundation, upon agreement with the Acropolis Museum, to the decision to extend the exhibition of the Cup at the Museum until February 2014, thus giving its thousands of visitors the opportunity to get to know an important part of the contemporary Olympic and athletic movement, rooted deeply in ancient Greece.
After February 2014, and up until the Cup takes up its permanent place at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, which is expected to be completed in late 2015, the Foundation will continue its efforts to locate other suitable venues for the temporary public exhibition of the Cup.
Both the Spyros Louis Cup exhibition and the support offered to the organization of the international “Spartathlon” ultramarathon enhance the general public’s awareness of the fact that the marathon and ultramarathon races, both very popular all over the world and connected to acutely contemporary concerns and needs, are deeply rooted in classical antiquity.