Imagine having to run 155 miles in 1.5 days without sleeping. Chris Chatzis, an electrical contractor in Salt Lake City, took on the challenge posed by the Greek Spartathlon, a 250 km race from Sparta to Athens, finishing in 70th place in just over 33 hours. Chatzis began running in 2006, and in May began training with Karl Meltzer, a local ultrarunner considered one of the best in the country. Chatzis went on to compete in races such as the Snowbird’s Speed Goats (50 km) and the Brazos Bend 100-mile, which he had to run in under 21 hours to qualify for the Spartathlon. Chatzis, who has dual American-Greek citizenship, represented Greece in the race because he felt that being an American as a Greek participant would honor both countries.
What caught your interest in Spartathlon?
The history, heritage of Greece and the difficulty of the race caught my interest. This seemed like the ultimate race to run, as it combined difficulty and history, and it took place in Greece. It honors Pheidippides, the historic runner who asked the Spartans to help Athens fight off the Persian invasion in what would be known as the Battle of Marathon.
Were you concerned about the stamina needed to complete it?
Absolutely. One small thing can go wrong that day and affect your success. The thresholds for this race are very strict: 385 people started and 174 finished the race due to each qualifying stage.
How did your family experience this situation?
My family has been very supportive and sacrificed a lot so that I could train for long hours. My wife and I have two young children who were unable to be at the finish line, but they were following the race online and live on the Spartathlon website. Two great friends, Tyler Lamprecht and Lex Curtis, traveled from Utah to Greece to help me and played an important role as crew. I had many family members and friends at the race and finish, including my parents and father-in-law, as well as uncles, aunts, cousins who live in Greece, and a friend from the military Greek.
Have you ever thought about giving up during the race?
Giving up was never an option. The only issue that stood out was a stomach issue around mile 75 due to overhydration. I wasn’t able to consume calories at this point and ended up finishing the race with lemon-lime soda for 100 miles.
You’ve completed one of the most grueling races on the planet. And after?
When I finished the race, I told my wife, “I never want to do this race again.” » However, as my body has recovered, I look forward to doing this race again one day. The support that the people of Sparta give to the runners is incomparable to any other event that I know of. Spartans honor all participants, including runners who attempt the race but do not complete it.