The idea of the race was started in 2010. The aim was to highlight the wider area of West Mani and the unknown side of Taygetos. The vision belongs to the team at 2407m Mountain Activities, which is based in Kardamili, and has implemented it. Nikos Kostopoulos was invited to assume the Technical Directorate, resulted in the linking of some of the most beautiful trails in the area, and until this day we do not stop exploring the area adding any elements we believe will enhance the aesthetics and interest of the participants.
The local community immediately embraced the project, supporting the event with all its might, making the visitor feel himself/herself at home and looking forward to the next time!
From the very first event, there was an innovation that involved the addition of a Vertical Speed route. It was a race of 650 meters and 150 meters vertical the previous day from the main event of the race, which covered in turn 36 kilometers and 2,100 meters of altitude gain. The small race though very short (about 4’ for the first athletes) is very important for the final result as the summary of the points from the two races brings out the big winner of the Taygetos Challenge. The trademark of the big race, but also a topic of intense debate after the event, was the famous “bell”, an uphill climb where athletes had to hit a large bell before attempting the very technical descent to confirm the climb. All this in a very special, stone field, with a steep slope, which tested the strength and technique of the participants, while rewarding with a breathtaking view of the sea and the beautiful Kardamili plain.
The following year (2011), the route of the big race was changed, shrinking slightly in length but increasing in altitude, while some road tracks were replaced with paths, thus emphasizing the mountainous nature of the race. The notorious “bell” remained in place, testing the athletes’ physical and mental strength for another year. At the same time, a shorter 19km route was added for athletes who did not want to “challenge” the big race, while Vertical Speed remained on the program, raising the adrenaline – but also the lactate – of athletes while providing spectacular images to spectators.
The year 2012 was a special year for the race and the region, after Salomon’s Advanced Week was held in Kardamili, with all the stars of the international company team presented and competed in the two-day event. The event gave us the opportunity to make them ambassadors of the beauty of our country, since everyone left Kardamili literally enchanted while we in turn had the opportunity to enjoy some of the best athletes of our kind on Greek soil and we certainly learned a lot from this meeting.
A smaller 4km – essentially a Kardamili cycle – was added to the existing three races to cover every taste. The race was marked by an unfortunate event, the death of English athlete John Lawton, who lost the track so far that despite the huge efforts of organizers and all rescuers, he was found only months later.