“Spartathlon” constitutes an international ultra-marathon that takes place annually the last weekend of September on the Athens-Sparta route. Athletes from all over the globe participate to this race, running a distance of 246 km starting from Herodion in Athens and finishing at the statue of Leonidas in Sparta. This race was founded in 1982, following the footsteps of Pheidippides, the ancient Athenian runner that was sent to Sparta in 490 B.C. to ask for assistance with the war led by the Greeks against the Persians. According to Herodotus, Pheidippides arrived in Sparta the day after he left Athens, and so there is a 36-hour time limit to finish the race. This race is believed to be one of the most difficult long distance races in the world, many foreign broadcasters and news agencies cover the annually event and a lot of the well-known marathon runners worldwide take place. The prize for the athletes that reach the Sparta finish line is an olive branch and water from the river Eurotas.
The Municipality of Sparta enriches marathon the week before with various cultural events, concerts, festivals, musical performances, photography exhibition, choirs, school games, folk dances and tributes to Laconic artists.