Ultraunner Joe Fejes is at it again with another round of predictions for Spartathlon, a 246-kilometre (153 mi) ultramarathon race held annually in Greece since 1983, between Athens and Sparta. Here are his Top 10 informative – and entertaining – Predictions:
(1) Yoshihiko “go go go” Ishikawa-age 29, (Japan), 2:24 marathoner, 6:52 (100k), (270 km) 24 hour. Yoshiko won the gold medal at the 2017 24 hour World Championship in Belfast a few months ago. His ultra stats are almost Valmir Nunes like—crazy ass speed (2:24 marathon) and variance (270 km) 24 hour to boot. Ishikawa is my pick to become the first Japanese runner since Ryochi Sekiya in 2009 to win the Spartathlon and to become the first runner since Scott Jurek to win in his debut Spartathlon outing.
(2) Marco “Polo” Bonfiglio-age 40, (Italy), 7:02 (100k), 2nd place in last year’s Spartathlon with a 23:36 approximately 30 minutes behind the winner Andrzej Radzikowski. Marco is a prolific marathon and ultra racer who a couple years back ran 10 marathons in 10 days at a 3:05 average. He is primed to win. His prior Spartathlon experience will be his greatest weapon against his slighly faste 10+ year younger foe– Ishikawa.
(3) Sebastian “not Coe” Bialobrzeski (Poland), age 29, 2:43 marathoner, (267 km) 24 hour. Seb surprised many peeps by grabbing the silver medal at this years 24 hour World Championship in Belfast behind Ishikawa and in front of his Polish compatriot Andrzej Radzikowski, last year’s Spartathlon champion. Seb is also a rarity in ultrarunning as he has crossover mountain running skills that almost match his talent on the road. He might be the next Jurek or Lukas.
(4) Radek “Cal” Brunner, age 43, (Czech), 2:30 marathoner, 7:04 (100k), (253 km) 24 hour, 24:07 Spartathlon (2016). Radek took the bronze medal at last year’s Spartathlon. It will be interesting to see if Radek goes out hard in the beginning like he did in Belfast when he actually led the 24 hour World Championship in the early stages. Flip a coin between the killer B’s (Bonfiglio, Bialobrzeski and Brunner) for the Bronze.
(5) Tamas Rudolf, age 37, (Hungary), 2:54 marathoner, 7:11 (100 km), 255 km (24 hour); 28:29 Spartathlon. My friend Tamas might be a tad slower behind the killer B’s in terms of leg speed but he has the experience and talent to podium if the stars align. Interestingly Tamas overtook Radek for the lead at the 24 hour World Championship until eventually succumbing to Ishikawa.
(6) Aleksandr Sorokin, age 36, (Lithuania), 2:42 marathoner, 6:50 (100 km), (260 km). Yet another east European runner that will be in the hunt for a medal. Aleksandr can match Ishikawa in terms of motor (6:50 100k) but has a tendency to throw a rod and implode after 12 hours. His all-out running style is evidenced by his personal best 153 km (95 miles) in 12 hours. I fully expect for him to have a substantial lead on the filed for the first 12ish hours. Let’s see if his chassis holds together after that.
(7) Marco Consani, age 42, (UK), 2:44 marathoner, 7:18 (100 km), 257 km (24 hours). Marco is a disciplined smart runner and a veteran ultrarunner. That is a polite way of saying he doesn’t quite have the horsepower of a few of the other favorites. He had a rough time at the 24 hour in Belfast earlier this year so I suspect he is itching for redemption and wouldn’t be surprised if he sneaks in the 3-5 slot by the time he puckers up to kiss King Leonidas’s feet. There will no doubt be carnage among the young gunslingers Ishikawa, Sorokin, Brunner and He also will catch hell if he comes home without a medal since his wife Debbie is also an elite ultrarunner.
(8) Joao Oliveira, age 39, (Portugal). 2013 Spartathlon Champion with a sparkling 23:29 but his last 3 Spartathlon’s have been several hours slower (26:43; 27:30; 30:52). He still young though and his resume reflects two wins earlier this year at the PT 281 Ultramarathon and UltraMilano Sanremo 285 km.
(9) Ondrej Velicka, age 34, (Czech), 2:52 marathoner, 7:19 (100 km), 259 km (24 hour); 31:38 Spartathlon. Based on 24 hour personal best I really want to put him in the #4-6 slot however he has struggled (57th & 66th) in his 2 prior Spartathlons. He is due for a breakout performance.
(10) Marc Burget, (USA), age 43, 2:35 marathoner, 138 km (12 hours), 14:41 (100 mile). Ok Marc cracks the top ten otherwise I will catch much grief from the Yanks back home unless an American is included. Marc has the credentials and the speed to be a legitimate contender at Spartathlon in his debut. Truthfully he is only a “Hail Mary” pick based on the fact that to my knowledge he hasn’t yet run for more than 15:34 hours (Keys 100 mile). As ultrarunners know, bad and unexpected things happen between the hours 16-24. Witnessing Marc’s experience stepping up in distance & hours will be intriguing and likely as entertaining as following the front runners.