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Publisher's Summary

The Road to Sparta is the story of the 153-mile run from Athens to Sparta that inspired the marathon and saved democracy, as told - and experienced - by ultramarathoner and New York Times best-selling author Dean Karnazes.
In 490 BCE Pheidippides ran for 36 hours straight from Athens to Sparta to seek help in defending Athens from a Persian invasion in the Battle of Marathon. In doing so he saved the development of Western civilization and inspired the birth of the marathon as we know it. Even now, some 2,500 years later, that run stands enduringly as one of greatest physical accomplishments in the history of mankind.
Karnazes personally honors Pheidippides and his own Greek heritage by recreating this ancient journey in modern times. Karnazes even abstains from contemporary endurance nutrition like sports drinks and energy gels and eats only what was available in 490 BCE, such as figs, olives, and cured meats. Through vivid details and internal dialogs, The Road to Sparta offers a rare glimpse into the mind-set and motivation of an extreme athlete during his most difficult and personal challenge to date.
©2016 Dean Karnazes (P)2016 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"This is a remarkable and inspiring memoir that will have casual and serious runners cheering." ( Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By Miles on 06-12-17

Repetitive, no depth

I'd already read Ultramarathon Man and enjoyed it enough to think I might enjoy this too. Well, I think if you've already read the earlier book at all recently you won't get much out of this.

Yes it focuses on Karnazes's greek ancestry and a little on the historical origins of the marathon. But never really as in depth as I would have hoped (which is odd, since he seems to have researched it and consulted an historian). His greek family connections are even less inspiring, especially if you'd read the earlier novel, since now he writes like it's the conclusion of a long expected narrative about why he became a runner when it doesn't sound like he'd ever put much thought into it prior to writing this book.

I might have been able to get past all that if there were more details about his running or his training, but unfortunately there's not much there either. The few things he does mention (the diet he was on for the run he does in Greece) he mentions over and over again to the point where you don't really learn what it is and also somehow are sick of hearing about it. He does tell stories from his run, but again there just isn't much there. He always seems uncomfortable with the fame he's acquired so each person he meets he just goes into how awkward it was or how humble he is that anyone would care. Fellow runners rarely get more than brief mentions, he's always out there running on his own, doing his own thing. He does spend a bit of time trying to be philosophical about it and guess at why he runs, but he doesn't come to any enlightening answers here. Also, he mentions some weird out of body experience he has while running (and fall asleep while running) like they are big deals, when both of those occurred in his much earlier book so I'm not quite sure why he's surprised they happened again. If they even happened at all. Some stories just seem made up, and not even to make a more compelling story. I think Dean's just not a very deep guy. And that's fine, but he spends too much time dancing around trying to be humble and modest about everything, so it's hard to appreciate the athlete side of the story either.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By thomas on 11-22-16

The Real Story of the Marathon

If you could sum up The Road to Sparta in three words, what would they be?

The Real Marathon!

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Road to Sparta?

You would think that his completion of the race would be the highlight, but it wasn't. The story told while he was running this arduous race was the highlight. His ability to use the journey as the touchstone to the ancient beginnings of the race were fascinating.

Which scene was your favorite?

If you are going to force me to pick one....I would say his meeting with Pan on the uphill mountain climb.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I shied away from other books by the author because although I am a runner, the super human feats of the top runners are sometimes hard to relate to. As an ultra-marathoner the author fits into that category for me. But this was a book that was part history, part travelouge and part internal journey for the author that was interesting. The other part that was somehow surprising to me was that the origins of the marathon were not what I had come to know. I have run more than a few and the historical insight was fascinating.

Any additional comments?

This book fit nicely in my endurance sports category. I read these books, but I can be a little picky about them. I shy away from fan-boy lit, I need something the author can share with me that I can use in my training or add to my knowledge about a sport that am involved in. This book delivered on both counts.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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