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Guinness marathon record-setter dodges cyclone to finish 246K Greek ultra

Quebec's ultrarunning pediatrician, Sebastien Roulier, was one of only 238 finishers in a field of 400


Less than a week after setting a new Guinness record for pushing an adult in a wheelchair in a full marathon, pediatrician Sebastien Roulier of Sherbrooke, Que. became the fourth Canadian and first Quebecker to finish the 246K Spartathlon, a race from Athens to Sparta. Runners were forced to do battle with cyclone Zorba, which threatened to derail the race.

RELATED: Wheelchair-pushing marathon record smashed by 30 minutes in Montreal

It was the 36th running of the Spartathlon, which recalls Pheidippides’ 490 BC journey on foot from Athens to Sparta, before the battle of Marathon, to ask the Spartan king for help in combatting the invading Persians. Roulier kissed the statue of Leonidas, marking his finish of the gruelling ultra, 33 hours and 47 minutes after he started on Friday. 


There are time limits at each of the 75 splits along the course, and runners must finish the course in 36 hours, cyclone or no cyclone. Of the 400 runners who started only 238 finished. Roulier was no. 120.

“I realized early on that my legs had not fully recovered from my marathon in Montreal,” says Roulier. “I had to revise my race plan and slow my pace.”

A week ago in Montreal, Roulier ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in 3:01:24 while pushing Marie-Michelle Fortin, 22, in a special wheelchair designed for running by the Quebec company, Kartus. 


Regarding the race in Montreal, Roulier says he doesn’t regret it for a moment. “To allow Marie-Michelle to complete her marathon, to live her passion and get a Guinness record in tandem was much more important. For the Spartathlon, to a certain extent, my only goal was to finish. And I did it. I was in a hurry to touch the statue of Leonidas the First of Sparta.”   

Roulier also got to meet one of his idols while in Greece, the ultramarathon man himself, Dean Karnazes who ran the Spartathlon in 2014.


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