The eighth edition of Salewa Olympus Mythical Trail, “the human race”, took place on July 7th. This year’s event was marked by the race’s return to its birthplace in Lakkos, Litohoro, and the finalization of the route with a few changes and additions. The race returns to Lakkos after starting and ending in Aiyannis for 3 years (2016-2018) and following the well-known route. Moreover, it now includes trails that had been unused for years, in the southern segment of the race, which were meticulously cleared in advance by the race organizers. Thus, after seven years of adjustments, the route has been finalized for the next few years. It will now constitute a fixed benchmark and point of reference for the future.
This year’s 8th OMT included distinguished participants, and the course record was broken despite the fact that the recent changes generally increased the runners’ finishing times. The weather conditions were generally satisfactory, considering the time of year in which the race takes place.
At midnight on Friday, July 5th, 146 athletes from 20 countries stood at the starting line. Under cover of darkness, they started their race with the first major ascent. Gradually, the runners spread out, with three athletes standing out from the very beginning: Dimitris Theodorakakos, Kostas Giannopoulos and Moisis Foltopoulos. The leading trio reaching the Muses Plateau in the middle of the night, where Dimitris Theodorakakos was forced to drop out of the race due to the effects of a recent road traffic accident. Moisis Foltopoulos took over the lead from K-24 (Oropedio Aid Station), putting distance between himself and Kostas Giannopoulos. The two continued to head the race, keeping a fixed distance, but in the last 30 kilometres and during the hottest hours of the day, Foltopoulos drew ahead and crossed the finish line in Lakkos, Litochoro with a course record-breaking time of 14:20:33. Second place went to Giannopoulos, who arrived at the finish line in 15:35:33, exhausted by the heat. Third place went to Tomas Klimsa from the Czech Republic, with a time of 16:04:45.
The women’s race, with the highest participation rate in OMT’s history (10% of the participants), saw more excitement and suspense, especially in the first half. Charissa Koetsier took the lead initially, but was soon overtaken by Despina Gavriilidou, whose steady pace kept her at the forefront until the end, bringing her to the finish line in 20:30:12, ranking 16th overall. She was followed by Margarita Grigoriadi 2nd (22:08:46) and Charissa Koetsier 3rd (23:25:41).
Of the 146 athletes, 91 completed the race within the 28-hour cut-off (62% of the participants) with an average time of 23:14:12, which is better than the previous years’ average despite the increased difficulty of the route after this year’s changes. This is a definite indication of the improvement in the athletes’ performance capability.
For yet another year, the organization of the race was made possible by the sponsorship and support provided by Salewa. Naturally, the 200-plus volunteers played a decisive role once again, manning aid stations and checkpoints at dozens of locations along the route. These experienced and responsible individuals happily give their own time and efforts to help all the runners in the race, and made an excellent impression this year, as always. Special mention goes to the Hellenic Rescue Team (EOD), with 70 volunteers who covered the entire route to ensure the safety of the runners and provide first aid wherever necessary. The organizers would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to everyone that supported the race.
The 9th edition of Olympus Mythical Trail will take place on 4-5 July 2020, on the exact same route, with minor adjustments to the race cut-off times. Details about the 2020 event will be announced soon.
The Organizing Team