Yiannis Kouros GRE

Yiannis Kouros, “The Running God”, “The Golden Greek”, “Modern Pheidippides”, “The Master of Pain”, and “The Unstoppable”, this are just some of his nicknames. Kouros has broken more than 160 world records (from 100 to 1000 miles, 12h, 6-days races). Many of them remain unbroken. 

He ran his first marathon at the age of twenty-one in 1977, with the time of 2:43:15. His times continued to improve, down to 2:25 in 1981. Yiannis won the Athens Marathon in 1981. By 1983, the Greek runner had completed twenty-five marathons. 

Soon he discovered that he excelled far more at ultra-distances, which are even longer than traditional marathons. Spartathlon - the distance from Athens to Sparta (156 miles, 251 km) - he run on September 30, 1983. There were forty-five runners. This was Kouros’ very first ultra-distance race. Race organisers had estimated that the winner would arrive at Sparta, running mainly in gravel roads in approximately twenty-seven hours, but Kouros won with an official time of 21:53:42. In 1984 he ran it in 20:25:00 - almost an hour and a half better than in 1983. His good friend Dušan Mravlje (Slovenia) was in both events closer than others behind him. Kouros set a course record that no one has come close to his performances done in the initial course. In 2023 the Greek Fotios Zisimopoulos won the Spartathlon, in 19:55:09 improving Yannis course record.

In 1989 in the ultramarathon Sydney-Melbourne (1011km) he achieved his fastest of his consecutive victories in 5 days, 2 hours.

His achievements:

  • 12 h – 162.400 km
  • 24 h – 303.506 km
  • 48 h – 473.495 km
  • 6 days – 1036.800 km
  • 1000 miles – 10 day 10 hours 

At the height of his power, he was unbeatable. His personal philosophy is based on the belief that for such extreme races as an ultramarathon, you can never properly prepare physically, so you must focus on the mind. A mind that needs inspiration to reach beyond reason, logic and pain.

Beyond his athletic feats, Kouros is a multifaceted artist, engaging in activities such as writing, composing music, and painting. In his present role, he serves as a supporter and promoter of ultramarathons, using his influence to inspire and guide aspiring athletes. His involvement in events like the SLO12RUN in Slovenia, where he is an honored guest, further solidifies his impact on the sport. The race's course even bears his name, a testament to the profound respect he commands as both an athlete and a person.


Maja Rigač

IAU Communication Committee

Contact us in Social Networks