YPSARION Trail Marathon 46 K Thassos 22.05.2016


The idea of ​​a mountain trail marathon on Thassos Island began to take shape with the clearing and opening of ancient paths and tracks across the Ipsarion mountain range. These trails will form the route for the first Thassos Mountain Marathon.
The start of our ‘run’ will be from the old historical capital of the Island, Theologos. The starting point will be from the Cultural Centre in the middle of the village at 08:00, Saturday 3 May 2014.
In front of the entrance of the Cultural village center and 244m altitude, between old stone mansions will be given the start of the race in our 8:00 Saturday morning May 3 .
From Theologos, at an altitude of 244 meters, the route takes you for a very short distance on a paved road to the start of the off-road trail, on the northern side of Theologos. This uphill trail takes you to the top of the island, Ipsarion (1204 meters altitude). This 12.5 kilometre section, a true test of any athlete, is 75% uphill gradient!
To plan the best route, you will need a good strategy. I will try and build you a mental picture, here goes:
The first part of the route is a rocky uphill path which runs through an isolated juniper forest for 5.5 km’s. The path takes you to the heart of the Ipsarion mountain range and 15% - 20% is uphill gradient. After passing through the ancient and beautiful juniper forest the path loses its raison d'être and becomes a trail of strips of rock until we reach the peak, known as Kammenou. This is the 5.5 km point and is the first checkpoint. The fastest athletes should reach this point in about an hour!
We call the second leg of our journey as the secret of Kazavitianou Prophet Elijah and takes us to an altitude of 1152m’s and to the 12.7 km point. The main feature of this section is the run on a rocky ridge with spectacular views of the north eastern side of the island to Samothrace and the Turkish coast. Great care must be taken to traverse this ridge as, at points, there is a shear drop of more than 200 meters! There is no clearly defined trail here and you must follow the red painted marks on the rocks, these are about every 5 meters. At about the 7km mark we reach the foot of the highest peak of Thassos, Ipsarion (1204m). A bit of a scramble along a rudimentary path, over slabs of rock and scree, leads us to the peak of Ipsarion at the 8.5 km point where you will find the second checkpoint. The view from the peak of the island compensates us and gives strength to continue. We now follow a dirt road for about 550 meters where we meet the hiking trail that leads to the mountain refuge of the Thassos Mountaineering Club. Here at the 9.3 km point we reach the first refreshment point (CP1) in front of the refuge at an altitude of 955 meters. At this point we climbed 1080 meters in just over 9 kilometres! The refreshment point will offer you gels, savory & sweet snacks , traditional sweets and water. The next stretch is downhill on the dirt road and give time to mentally prepare for the second big climb to the top of Kazavitianou Prophet Elias at 1152m altitude. The distance from CP1 is only 3 kilometers and should take the fastest athletes about 50 minutes to reach the top. This part is technically difficult with rocky paths and the last 200 meters is a rocky ‘wall’ which will take your breath away! At the top there is another checkpoint, you have now completed the second and technically most difficult leg of the marathon and travelled 12.5 km’s, ascending a total of 1350 meters out of the total marathon ascent of 1950 meters.
The third part to ‘Ailias’ (CP3 - 24.5 km point, 710m alt.) is considered a relatively easy part with a climb at the end over the ‘kakgelia’ path with its 32 turns! Leaving the peak of Kazavitianou Prophet Elijah we descend over stone and rocks until we get into an old poor quality path that will lead us on a circular route on the north side of Ipsarion. At this point the trail is overgrown with vegetation but soon emerges onto an old abandoned road where you will see a wooden signpost from the forest services which denotes the hiking trail that leads to Potamia. From here we continue our descent along a dirt road, until we reach the second refreshment station (CP2). We have covered 17.5 km’s of the race, ascending 1380 meters. After taking on food and water we continue to follow the forest road for about another 4 km’s, an enjoyable part of our journey. Now we turn right and start another ascent through dense forest and streams, along one of the oldest trails on the island for about 4 km’s. Gradually we gain height leaving the forest and the vista opens up to reveal distant golden sandy beaches and the sea.
Fatigue is now evident in this, the last serious climb of the race. Soon we see the top up the small white chapel, Ailia, which is our destination and checkpoint3. We arrive at CP3 after 24.5 km’s and a total ascent of 1890 meters. This is one of the most beautiful checkpoints of the race and an ideal spot for a few minutes rest.
From this point onwards, we are on the final leg and have another 20 km’s to the finish line. The main feature from Ailia is the difficult descent over stone and slate scree for about 2.5 km’s. You will now reach the small chapel of Saint Kyriaki and after a sharp right turn follow a downhill road for 1.5 km’s until we meet the network of paths from Theologos. Caution is needed here as this is a crossroads for several mountain roads and trails, make sure you follow the signs carefully! We will be taking the dirt road back to the village we started in, Theologos. You will pass Agios Ioannis Cemetery and take the road from where you started and head for the start point where you will find checkpoint number 4 (CP4). You have now travelled 32.4 km’s with a total ascent of 1890 meters. Here you will also find a refreshment station with a full supply of food and water to get you through the last 12 km’s of the marathon.
This last part of the fourth leg is on a good trail and is almost all downhill to the finish line.
After leaving the refreshment station go down the main road, turn left after the main square and follow a stone path that leads you to the base of a valley and a stone built clapper bridge. 5 km’s from the finish line you will reach a crossroad and the final refreshment station (CP5). We have now travelled 39km’s and ascended a total of 1950 meters. This last 5 km’s is over good paths and dirt roads, the finish is near!
The finish line is under the central arch on San Antonio Beach.
In conclusion I would like to refer to the great preparation that it takes for an athlete to complete a marathon of this magnitude. You will be rewarded for your training by the natural beauty and a sense of achievement. Personally, I think this is marathon is one of the toughest and certainly on a level with the extreme marathons of Olympus and Zagoria. The countdown has started, preparations are complete, visit the link below to get more entrant information:
Summary of Thassos Mountain Marathon:
Total distance: 44.3 km’s
Total Ascent: 1975m
Total descent: 2206m
90 % Mountain trail
9 % Forest road
1 % Asphalt
Highest point: 1204m peak of Ipsarion
Lowest point: Sea level – San Antonio (finish)

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