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Joao Oliveira Wins 31st Spartathlon Ultra-Marathon Race

Portuguese runner Joao Oliveira won the 245.3-kilometer historic ultramarathon Spartathlon race on Saturday, clocking 23 hours, 29 minutes and 8 seconds. Oliveira, 36, had his previous best finish in the competition in 2010 with a 27:22.00 performance placing him fourth. As the winner of the race he received an olive wreath from the organizers and a cup of water from the Evrotas River.

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Finishing second two hours later was Germany’s 29-year-old Florian Reus in 25:29.54, while third place was taken by last year’s winner Stu Thoms in 25:54.49. The first female across the finish line was 39-year-old Szilvia Lubics of Hungary in 28:03.04. She was 12th overall. The race traces the classical route of Pheidippides, an Athenian messenger sent to Sparta in 490 BC to seek help against the Persians in the Battle of Marathon. The Spartathlon is one of the world’s most difficult long-distance races, running over rough tracks, crossing vineyards and olive groves, steep hillsides and, most challenging of all, the 1,200-meter ascent and descent of Mount Parthenio in the dead of night. The race started at the Acropolis in Athens on Friday and ended in the southern Greek town of Sparta.

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