OLYMPIA, Greece, May 4 -- Spain's Eusebio Bochons won the 3rd Dolichos Ultra-Marathon Race from Delphi to Olympia, one of the most demanding long distance races worldwide, crossing on early Sunday the finish line in front of the ancient Stadium where the Olympic Games were born. In the first participation of a Chinese runner in the epic feat, Chen Penbin ranked third.
Bochons reached the site in the Peloponnese peninsula, clocking a time of 38 hours, 38 minutes and 2 seconds over the 255-kilometer nonstop course after setting off at 5 pm on May 2 at the foot of the remnants of the ancient sanctuary of God Apollo in mainland Greece.
In his second participation in the race, Bochons stretched his personal limits of physical and mental endurance, beating his performance in 2013, when he had finished third, by more than two hours.
The 47-year-old father of three children, like his fellow athletes, braved the hot sun and the heavy rainfall. He ran through uphill asphalt roads and rocky dirt trails to be eventually awarded with an olive wreath from the birthplace of the Olympics under the warm applause of locals and foreign visitors.
His goal was to "finish the race, not beat any records", he told Xinhua with his wife by his side. As in previous races, she supported him throughout the course.
Bochons has also finished the 245 kilometers Spartathlon from Athens to Sparta. He always enjoys running in Greece in particular because of the historic context of long distance races in the country and the warmth of people, he said.
Haka Sakari from Finland came second with 38:47:55, and Chen joined the few runners who have managed to complete the route in 2012 and 2013.
A total of 10 runners crossed the finish line in the previous two editions, beating the strict 48 hour time limit and tough ground conditions.
"I am very happy that I have completed the race in Greece -- the birthplace of Olympic Games. I hope more people can start running, which will make you healthy," Chen told reporters at the finish line.
This year, when Chen, a 36-year-old former fisherman, crossed the finish line, five Greek athletes were still continuing on his footsteps.
Among them was Yorgos Tassios, a parachutist in Greek Armed Forces who took up running in 2007, when his Army major Stergios Anastassiades talked to him about the feeling of making it to the end.
Anastassiades was injured and dropped the race this year. Tassios who was also supported by his wife Ria along the way, promised to cross the finish line for both.
A total of 26 athletes from eight countries (Greece, Spain, China, Finland, Italy, Holland, Israel and Poland) had lined up on Friday at the starting point of the 3rd Dolichos in a revival of the feat achieved by ancient Greeks several centuries ago, when they would run the same distance to take part in the ancient Olympic Games.
Most, including the only woman at the starting point, Greek Christina Kioureli, didn't manage to complete the race. They were, however, at the finish line to embrace the athletes who made it.
"Don't stop and don't give up" was the motto on the lips of most participants on Sunday.
It is what they told the spectators and the volunteers who supported them along the way.