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.
"This is a remarkable and inspiring memoir that will have casual and serious runners cheering." (Publishers Weekly)
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The Real Story of the Marathon
The Real Marathon!
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.
If you are going to force me to pick one....I would say his meeting with Pan on the uphill mountain climb.
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.
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.