If you run, but haven’t tried trails yet, then you will definitely come to this. Why do we think so? Because numbers can’t be fooled.
What’s with the numbers?
Ukrainian trail statistics show a rapid growth:
- 2018 – about 3000 participants
- 2019 – 7000 participants
- 2020 – 6,500 participants (including Covid, cancellations or restrictions on many starts)
- 2021 – a record is set, and you have time to participate! (there will be more trail runs this year)
The time has come when almost every weekend you can choose not only the road start, but also the trail. Most of them take place in the Carpathians, but exotic options appear in the center of the country and even in the east. And when there is supply, demand also grows. Therefore, getting a train ticket to the Carpathians is becoming more and more difficult.
The flagship of Ukrainian trails is Chornohora Sky Marathon, which is held annually on the third weekend of August. The race takes place along the most beautiful Montenegrin ridge, with an ascent of 6 peaks of more than 2000 meters along two already classic routes:
- 61 km with a climb of 3000 meters – For experienced runners or brave beginners: p. Lugi – Pop-Ivan Chernogorsky (2028 m) – Brebeneskul (2035 m) – Gutin Tomnatik (2016) – Rebra (2001 m) – Hoverla (2061 m) – Petros (2020 m.) – s. Yasinya
- 24 km with a climb of 1100 meters – for an almost painless acquaintance with trails: Kozmeshchik tract – Petros (2020 m.) – with. Yasinya
For 7 years, the number of participants in Chornohora has grown 5 times: from 250 people in 2015 to 1264 in 2021. The seventh trail broke all records, gathering twice as many people as a year ago.
Only a few road races in the country can boast of such a number of participants, so “the trail is the new asphalt”. The registration limit was introduced only due to the lack of transport in the region, which is needed to deliver athletes to the starting point.
And at all starts of the Ukrainian Trail League, the number of participants grows by a third every year: 1600 participants in 2018; 2,200 in 2019, 2,800 in 2020.
Chornohora Sky Marathon 2021: How It Was
For those who have visited Chornohora, such growth dynamics looks logical. The quality of the start is always at its best:
- perfect track markings (this is very important in the mountains)
- blackjack and watermelon food outlets
- rich starter pack with eco bag and cool water bottle
- the expo itself looks decent: you can buy trail equipment, sports watches and sports food. There is a recovery area with modern gadgets for electrical muscle stimulation and massage.
The race starts from the finish town at the stadium (there is no football, track and field in the Carpathians).
First, they check the mandatory equipment (membrane jacket, cap, whistle, isofolia, water tank, glass, flashlight and telephone), and only then will the starter pack be issued.
Usually, the weather in Chornohora is cool, so you don’t need to take thermal jackets, pants and hats with you to the start – this makes your backpack and life much easier.
On the day of the start (Saturday), all buses in the region take the participants to the start point, and it looks like the Great Migration of Nations. At the start, kipish reaches its maximum: you need to find a toilet, tie your shoelaces, count gels, drink water …
Nature is much stronger than people and can break many plans and roads.
At the beginning of the long distance, a surprise awaited everyone: the first 11 km were always very frisky (the leaders ran at a pace faster than 4 min / km), as they pass along an almost flat forest road, but now there is almost no second half of the road – it was destroyed by the Belaya Tisa River.
Therefore, from the very beginning, we had to overcome fords and forest debris. Such obstacles divided the participants into two categories: those who stood politely in line to climb the river on a log, and those who confidently ran into the water knee-deep, and sometimes waist-deep.
The first serious climb – Mount Pop-Ivan Chernogorskiy 2028 m – is experiencing “who is what garazd”: leaders check each other, and newcomers begin to wonder why they came here.
For most of the participants, the trail runs from checkpoint to checkpoint (control point, also known as feeding point). There we eat, get water, hear the news about the leaders of the race and look for companions for the next segment of the trail.
The first command post is located at the White Elephant Observatory, where mountain rescuers are on duty (not only during the race, but all year round).
The food at the KP is getting more and more varied every year. There is sausage for meat eaters, fruits for vegans, and sweets for everyone. Coca-Cola is a separate item, it goes into the heat on the mountain like never before.
The next top location on the route is the highest mountain lake in Ukraine, Brebeneskul. There is checkpoint number 2, to which a rapid technical descent leads.
And then the most delicious thing is the ascent to Gutin Tomnatik with a slope of 90 degrees. In fact, a little less, but on the rise it seems that it is exactly 90.
Further along the track, the highest point is Hoverla. This is the most exhausting part of the route, since there are almost 17 km between the checkpoints with an ascent to 2 peaks. Water must be economized and evenly distributed – only experience will help here.
But this time, nature heard the prayers of the runners, and the spring under Hoverla did not dry out. There was a volunteer who kindly poured water for everyone. It was a joyful moment of the race, when I was used to counting every sip of water, and here there was an unlimited source right under the mountain. During this period, at the top of Hoverla there is a “bazaar” of tourists, so there is no desire to stay there even for a minute.
Further, a technical rocky descent to the cofferdam between Hoverla and Petros.
KP No. 3 near Petros is an oasis of life. There is the most delicious watermelon in life, the sweetest biscuits and life-giving Coca-Cola.
The last exam remains – the climb to Petros. 2 km with a climb of 500 meters – an almost vertical stone wall up at the 45th kilometer of the race, which you climb with your last strength, dream of normal food instead of gels at the finish and how you fall on the soft lawn of the stadium and just lie there.
The final descent is 15 km, here you can accelerate well and have fun, if, of course, you trained the descents well, did strength exercises, guessed right with the food on the race and did not have to drink painkillers on the way.
The top location for the finish is a football stadium with a soft lawn, watermelons and beer from the organizers.
A little more statistics: during the race at the checkpoint and in the finish town, the participants ate 1.5 tons of watermelons. These are all the watermelons that were in the Ash area that weekend.
The competition for victory was frenzied and it was difficult to determine the favorites on the long list. In the men’s competition, the main intrigue was the question: can someone give a fight to the previous winners Yuri Klim and Sergey Popov?
The women did not have last year’s winner Polina Zakharova, so the intrigue was even greater.
The first to come to the finish line was Sergey Popov with an incredible time of 6:40, this is a pace of 6:28 min / km (last year’s result of the winner Yura Klim is 7:02)
Men 61 km:
- Sergey Popov – 6:40
- Alexander Chenikalo – 7:05
- Yuri Klim – 7:07
Women 61 km:
- Yulia Tarasova – 8:13
- Anna Gudelaitis – 8:31
- Asya Komissarova – 8:34
Men 24 km:
- Oleg Yakimchuk – 2:09
- Vadim Gech – 2:09
- Vadim Rogozovsky – 2:15
Women 24 km:
- Christina Bogomyakova – 2:36
- Sofia Porokhnavets – 2:37
- Victoria Gutnik – 2:44
PS I am very glad that some sponsors are already offering cooperation to the organizers and there is no need to persuade them to believe in the coolness of the trails.
Photo: Chornohora Sky Marathon