Lightning kills runner on Greek mountain race; hurts another

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — Lightning struck Sunday during a nighttime trail race up a Greek mountain, killing one runner and seriously injuring another, Greek police and the fire service reported.

The two men were running in the Six Peaks race, which passes through the six highest peaks of Mount Falakro in northern Greece, when lightning struck a group of runners at 4 a.m. at an altitude of 1,340 meters (4,400 feet), a police officer told The Associated Press.

Two fire service rescue squads came up the mountain from the nearby town of Drama to find one runner, 55, already dead and another, 56, seriously injured. The injured runner was airlifted to a hospital in the city of Kavala, where authorities said he was in serious condition. Neither was identified.

The 35.7-kilometer (22.2-mile) race had started at 7 p.m. Saturday in the village of Pyrgoi, 630 meters (2,066 feet) up the slopes of the 2,232-meter (7,323-foot) mountain. Falakro’s six highest peaks in Greece are all over 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) high; the mountain extends into Bulgaria.

The weather was good when the race started but during the night heavy rain developed and the trail became muddy. By the time the lightning struck, several of the 55 runners taking part had reached the finish line at a mountain hut on top of the Falakro Ski Resort. Runners had 12 hours to complete the race.

The race is one of five, and the second shortest, organized since 2018 by the Nevrokopi Hiking and Mountaineering Club, located in the nearby town of Kato Nevrokopi under the collective name Frozen Peaks. The three longest races —269, 103 and 46 kilometers (167, 64 and 28.6 miles) — have been certified by the Switzerland-based International Trail Running Association.

___

Nellas reported from Athens, Greece

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.