Double Spartathlon – Mimi Anderson
Mimi Anderson is a British endurance athlete and multiple Guinness World Record Holder.
In 2013 Mimi went to Greece with the plan to do the historical and extremely challenging Spartathlon race of 153 miles from Athens to Sparta, and then run back to Athens, both in 36 hours.
“Sadly this wasn’t to be as my body turned into a rag doll and I was pulled from the race with 6km to go but I always said that I would go back in 2015 and try again,” Mimi remembers.
But in 2015 Mimi was more fortunate and became the first female to ever achieve the Double Spartathlon.
“The race was 35:07 and the return was 47hrs but spent half an hour trying to find the finish,” Mimi says; “looked so different when there weren’t loads of people cheering as you run past!”
In 2011 Mimi had been running the single Spartathlon and became the 3rd Female & 1st Brit home in 32hrs and 33 mins.
Described as the world’s most grueling race, the Spartathlon runs over rough tracks and muddy paths (often it rains during the race), crosses vineyards and olive groves, climbs steep hillsides and, most challenging of all, takes the runners on the 1,200 meter ascent and descent of Mount Parthenion in the dead of night. This is the mountain, covered with rocks and bushes, on which it is said Pheidippides met the god Pan. In 2,500 years man has had no impact at all. There is still no pathway over the mountain that is swept by strong winds with temperatures as low as 4°C. The ascent is marked out by a trail of battery-driven colored flashing lights and its challenge is a trial for human stamina and mental strength. Over the mountain the last sections are no less energy sapping and exhausting for the runners as they follow a road that winds up and down hills before descending into Sparta. Even the finest athletes start hallucinating as they cover these final stages.
Having lost all sense of time and reality, they are “on automatic” as they push their weary bodies on towards the finishing line at the statue of Leonidas. At most, only about a third of the runners who leave Athens end the course in Sparta. The goal of all participants is to cover the course within the 36-hour time limit.
Pushing herself to the limits has strengthened Mimi’s resilience and taught her its importance in boosting her mental and physical health, especially having suffered with the eating disorder anorexia for 15 years.
After overcoming her own challenges Mimi is now passionate about using her running to help others tackle challenges in their own lives.
Photo credits: Sparta Photography Club; copyright: Mimi Anderson