A Siberian runner bests a throng of competitors to reach the summit (2,456 meters) of Crete’s tallest peak, and down Psilopritis Mountain (Mt. Ida) to the race’s finish. In a race event spanning two days, runners from 20 nations competed in a variety of events in celebration of Crete, Minoan, and Greek traditions. The call to “Run in the footsteps of Zeus” was answered by Russian Dmitrii Usharov and many others at the 9th annual Psiloritis Race on Crete.
The race up Crete’s tallest peak, Psilopritis Mountain (Mt. Ida) on June 3rd was the 9th consecutive event. With its origins in Minoan tradition, theITRA – International Trail Running Association-sanctioned race challenged this year’s runners with tough weather conditions that presented even more of a challenge. World’s Marathons gives us a bit of the race’s cultural history with:
“The race trail covers the distance that pilgrims of the sacred city of Minoan Knossos used to walk in order to climb Psiloritis mountain and honor their god, Zeus Cretagenes, who according to Ancient Greek Mythology was brought up in the cave of Ideon Andron.”
Hense, we have the call to “run where Zeus once trod.” So, with this epic history as a backdrop, Racer Dmitrii Usharov, who hails from a region of Russian known for its extreme climatic conditions, bested competitors from Slovenia, France, Great Britain, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, America, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Albania, Ireland, Poland, Italy, Uae, Norway, Greece, Iran, and Canada. Finishing second to Usharov in the 35km event were, Augustino Paschalidis of Greece with a time of 4 hours 13 minutes, and Manoulis Loukakis finishing just behind. Usharov finished 12 minutes ahead with a time of 4 hours and 1 minute.
On this year’s event, organizing committee president, Andreas Andrulidakis, had this to say about this year’s event:
“The event was a weekend full of the spirit of Greece, and of Crete. Runners and guests got to experience the unique environment, the culture, and to compete in an historic event against the terrain and despite the strong winds and cold. Every contestant became an ambassador for sport, and for their home countries.”
Andrulidakis also congratulated all the competitors from several race groups, the co-organizers and sponsors, and volunteers. Set at the at the foot of and on the slopes of the UNESCO world heritage site of Mt. Psiloritis, the backdrop of this beauty of a geopark made the event even more memorable for contestants and fans. Once considered the pillar ancients believed supported the sky, Psiloritis is still the centerpiece of Cretan culture. Andrulidakis also set the challenge for organizers and competitors to make next year’s race even more spectacular.
Held under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, the 9th International Psiloritis Race was co-organized by the Region of Crete and the Municipalities of Rethymno, Anogia, Amari, as well as being supported by sporting, cultural and voluntary groups from across the island.