I have attended several races this year, but from the point of view of the atmosphere, no race was as amazing as Krynica’s one. This is for two reasons – long distance and beautiful nature. In Slovakia we have amazing nature, but in my opinion the amount of ultra-trail races is not sufficient (there are two or three similar events here all year long).
7 Valleys Race, the part of huge event called Festival Biegowy (www.festiwalbiegowy.pl), took place on 8th of September this year and it started at 03:00 am. The start as well as the finish line was the same, situated in the center of Krynica city. It was a circle root of 100 km, with two “meta” points (33 km – Rytro and 66 km – Piwniczna-Zdroj) where the race could be accomplished for the participants who chose shorter distances. The nature around this area is a part of Western Carpathians and the hills are known as Beskid Sądecki.
At the same time, or actually in the evening that night, there was an event in my hometown as well – night run at the distance of almost 9 km through the streets of the Kosice city, city where the oldest marathon in Europe is organized yearly. I decided to go to Krynica, because I’m little bit fed up with asphalt street races as well as the high price for so short run – Slovaks sometimes do not know to offer real price for the value the race apparently has.
I chose 33 km distance, but actually according my GPS I did almost 39 km. I did one kilometer as a surplus, because I turned to opposite direction on the crossroad, on 15th km (with a group of approximately 30 runners). It was the place where the runners of 100 km joined the back-root to the finish (Krynica). For the record, the first part, or the distance from start to the first “meta” was the distance of 33 km. It is the range between two cities – Krynica and Rytro. On the other hand, the finish line for runners of 33 km was on the other side of Rytro near the ski resort, that’s why we had to run through the whole city and the total distance was much bigger in comparison with the official number.
First twenty kilometers went smooth. I started to run slowly, because I knew that the incline to the first hill would require more “steam”. After the first 10 kilometers of the race, which needed to be climbed to the hill of Jaworzina Krynicka (1113), I felt hungry, so I ate 1/2 of my flapjack stick. I kept running all that time during the incline, I was not walking as others. There was a guy, who went along me during this part of the race, sometimes he was behind, sometimes in front of me. We changed some words (it is not common if someone speaks English among Polish runners as I saw that time), but after we hit Jaworzina I started to run faster, so I lost him.
Another one caught me on the hill, he was running behind my back for almost 20 km. He was wearing green jacket and he is seen on video (3:20) behind me (I’m wearing black comp socks, green T-shirt). It seemed my pace fitted his one and frankly I found it perspective as well, although he was behind me. I realized he was running better uphill, hence I thought he will help me later, when it is hard for me to keep the pace.
I was trying to drink two or three sips of water after each 30 minutes. In my camel bag there was 1l of pure water and somehow I sipped it all. I do not usually drink too much water during the race or workout. Three times I took 1/2 of banana flipjack too. I did not feel hungry and thirsty; hence I did not stop on the first rest station at Hala Labowska (approximately on 22th or 23th km). But from this point of root I started to feel fatigue. I kept running without any break to Hala Labowska. Because of fatigue I started walking uphill; I wanted to save as much energy as possible. This was the right time to try the coconut milk I had in my backpack. I have read too much about this liquid, so I bought one pack of it for this special occasion. Unfortunately I did not see the difference. Maybe without it I could be more tired. That time the guy in green jacket got ahead of me, he was keeping running still without any break. When it started breezing and it was after one or two km from Hala Labowska I saw the beautiful nature around me for the first time. It was amazing; it is really nice environment there.
Running downhill to Rytro was a little bit harder for the body, especially knees. As a matter of fact, it is too big decrease – 625 m on 5 km. Also, because of rain, the path was muddy and there was danger of fall – but not in case you are wearing so awesome shoes like my SpeedCross racing shoes from Salomon. On the other hand, it was the fastest part of the race. The hardest part in my opinion was the asphalt path section (3,5 km) from Rytro to Ski Resort. I was a little bit tired, but I still wanted to finish under 4 hours. No one told us, that the distance is bigger, and I was a little bit disappointed why I’m running last “three” km so long, I thought my GPS had not tracked the data properly. I reached the finish line at total time 3:54. This is 6:08 min/km and 6:00 min/km was my target pace, so I was satisfied with myself. Despite the rain and the cold weather I did not use warmer apparel, I did not feel I really needed it.
I appreciate snacks and drinks, fruit and tea in Rytro rest station, as well as frequencies of coach rides to Krynica where we left our car. There were many flags along the whole root too and several people from organization were riding their 4×4 motorbikes. I liked also the amount of racers, it is motivating when you get ahead of somebody, because of he/she runs bigger distance, and hence he/she is slower.
And what should be better next year? Firstly, English website version and its whole structure. Secondly, the results according which my start number was on 16th place, but the name of runner was different. Also, the registration place in Krynica could be more visible. Using boards, flags or whatever else would be welcomed. Someone who attends the festival for the first time has a small issue to find the place.
I attended the race together with my brother Tomi and Richard, the friend of mine. He beats us all, he was the fourth, I came 30 minutes after him and Tomi approximately next 30 minutes after me. After all, it was an awesome event, with many funny moments, like sleeping in a carpark etc. Anyway, I believe we will attend this race next year as well and hopefully more friends of us will be interested in joining us too.
- Salomon SpeedCrross 3 CS
- Salomon XA 20 M backpack
- Salomon Com2 socks
- EMOS XG-8102 light
- 2 pcs banana flapjack
- 0.5l of coconut milk
- 1l of water
Text: Martin Kovál
Foto: Martin Kovál