Running Heroes #6: Yiannis Kouros

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Hailing from Tripoli, Greece, Yiannis Kouros is a true legend within the world of endurance running. This famed ultramarathon professional is currently based in Melbourne, Australia, and he is often referred to as a true running god, holding a wide range of male records, from 100 to 1.000 miles, not to mention his impressive road and track records, ranging from 12 hours to even 6 days.

It is not surprising that this talented runner was even celebrated in a movie, “The Story of Marathon: A Hero’s Journey”. In this 1991 flick, Yiannis plays the role of legendary Greek athlete, Pheidippides, celebrating the history of running in a very special way.

Early Days

Yiannis Kouros

Yiannis Kouros

Yiannis actually started running at the age of 16, with a particular focus on long distance footraces. Yiannis first became known to the public in the early 80s. Back in 1984, he actually managed to win the famed Spartathlon and the celebrated Sydney-To-Melbourne ultra marathon in a striking record time (only 5 days, 5 hours, 7 minute and 6 seconds for the latter, beating former record holder Cliff Young). Even later on, at the age of 51, he managed to break his very own world record, with a stunning endurance performance over two decades later!

It’s All In Your Head

A true endurance artist, this talented runner reportedly stated that the real secret to keep going and performing to that high level is simply not giving in to fatigue. In his own words, “when other people get tired, they stop. I don’t”.

In order to achieve this result and remaining active even in spite of an exhausted body, Yiannis uses massive mental conditioning in order to give himself energy, allowing his focus and motivation to truly drive.

One of the most interesting things about this talented athlete is that his approach to running is not purely physical, as you can guess from his previously mentioned statement. On the other hand, Yiannis is well known for his unique emotional and psychological attitude towards running.

The Artist

His philosophy and creativity has also found other outlets of expressions. Through the years, he wrote over a thousand poems, and collected many of them in his own book, Symblegmata. He also wrote a memoir about some of his most intense running experiences, called “The Six-Day Run of The Century” – definitely a must-read book for anybody who loves ultra running and is interested in the evolution of this amazing discipline through the eyes, observations and memories of one of its most legendary exponents of all time.

This talented ultra marathon legend certainly offers a beautiful lesson and an amazing example to all of us: keep challenging yourself and exceed your expectations and limitations – not only in sports, but also in life.

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