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Rodopi AdvEndurun (ROUT)

19-Oct-2018 Forestland, Rodopi Mountains National Park, East Macedonia and Thrace, Greece

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Mountains Race Race Terrain
164KM / 102Miles
2 Days - 120 Runners

DIFFICULTY Race Difficulty Brutal  

Rodopi Advendurun 100 miles (ROUT), is a tough adventure footrace for experienced runners who compete in semi-autonomy conditions.

There are only 6 aid stations along a distance of 100 miles, running along abandoned paths and trails through the tremendous scenery of  the Rodopi Mountains National Park in Northern Greece.

Held every 3rd week of October.

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Beginner

Elevation: Very little change < 500 metres. Benign running terrain, not technical.

Suitable for: First ultra runners completing a marathon or doing regular long distance running in the last six months.

Intermediate

Elevation: Increase of up to 1000 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed at least one ultra distance race (or similar event) or are doing long distance running (>26 miles) regularly, with elevation shown.

Advanced

Elevation: Increase of up to 1500 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed several ultra distances or similar events, or are doing long distance running regularly, with elevation shown.

Expert

Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with some challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity or heat) and or technical terrain

Suitable for: Experienced runners who have completed at least regular ultra distances in last 12 months, or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races may be subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements.

Brutal

Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with very challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity, heat or at high altitude) and or technical terrain.

Suitable for: Very experienced long distance ultra runners (min 3 years’ experience) or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races is often subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Purchase of specialist kit is often recommended for these races.

Endurance - Multi-activity

Type: An ultra distance race including at least two of the following activities such as running, swimming, cycling, kayaking, skiing and climbing. It may also include different climatic conditions (eg ice, snow, humidity, cold water, mud or heat).

Suitable for: Experienced multi-skilled athletes who have trained for the different activities included in this event. Admission to these races may be subject to receipt of a recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements and any specialist equipment required such as a wetsuit, skis or a mountain bike.

Global - Virtual

Type: A virtual race which can be run at any time shown on the dates shown, on any type of terrain in any country.

Suitable for: For runners from beginners to experienced as you choose your own course and challenge based on the guidelines and options set by the virtual race organiser.

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ROUT

05:46 25-02-15

ROUT 100 miles advendure run.
My experiences from 2014 (and 2013)


Ágúst Kvaran, November, 2014

The weather forecast kept changing day by day between predictions for heavy rain and sunny sky making my temper to fluctuate accordingly! That briefly described my feeling in Crete, where I was staying the first weeks of October 2014 just before the 5th 100 mile Rodopi Ultra Trail advendure run which was scheduled 17-18th of October. I had participated in the 4th race also during my stay in Crete last year and the plan was to repeat it again.
Having participated in number of shorter distance ultramarathons in previous years as well as in the Marathon des Sables in 2009 I felt like trying a 100 mile race last year. It was, however, a questionable decision to make.

The year before (2012) had been a disaster year for me in terms of activities. I had broken my right ankle in a bicycle accident and had had operations on both knees to fix torn meniscus. Were further participation in ultras perhaps over or not advisable? I felt, however, comfortable with short to medium distance running early in 2013 and therefore decided to take the risk. Since I was planning to stay in Crete because of my work in the autumn 2013 I looked for a 100 mile race close to Crete on the internet and found ROUT to be held in the Rodopi mountains north of Greece close to the Bulgarian boarder in October.
From my point of view the description of the race, its philosophy and conditions sounded like the perfect event to try: A 164 km race along a steep and rough mountain trail in a dense forest, involving minimal external assistance in an uninhabited area.


One might even be confronted by wild animals, such as bears and wolves on the way!

If I was going to finish this I would have a lot of stories to tell my grandchildren in the future!

I decided to go for it. I tackled the event last year with a bit of hesitation and without taking much risk, emphasizing to finish within the time limit which was 42 hours. In short I finished and made it in about 38 and half hours. I felt great throughout and enjoying the whole event tremendously and my legs accepted this!
Ágúst and Ólöf at the finishing line of ROUT in the evening of 19th October 2013.(https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=542715775809074&set=t.1202654873&type=3&theater )

The weeks and the months after the race memories from ROUT 2013 kept haunting me. The track surrounding and the landscape is unforgettable. To run hours and hours, in total wilderness with no symbols of modern inhabiting and with only sounds of “pure natural origin” in the ears is indescribable. In the night, lack of artificial man made illuminations made the stars on the sky feel brighter and closer to you than I had ever experienced before.

Helpfulness, kindness and humorous attitude of large number of volunteers at aid stations and check points was memorable. I had made number of local friends who kept stirring up these and many more memories by relevant entries on facebook.

When I looked back, I realized that I had made number of tactical mistakes in the race, 2013, which I felt that could be improved.

Firstly, I had got lost several times, mostly in the last quarter of the race where we were running back the same way as we started, simply because of a lack of attention in the beginning.

Secondly, I had been too disorganized at the aid stations and in the arrangement of drop bags.

Thirdly, there were sections of the track were I felt that I could improve my passage speed.

Ergo, I had to try this again! Furthermore, it so happened that I was planning to go to Crete again early in autumn 2014 due to my work, so, eventually, it became an obvious decision to make to combine “business and pleasure” and to participate in the 5th ROUT in October 2014.
Training in the hills near Heraklion, Crete, in September 2014

From the beginning of the year (2014) I gradually increased the running mileage per week. In the summer I emphasized off-road running out in the countryside in Iceland. I participated in a 50 mile mountain race, Hengill ULTRA, south of Iceland in July and ran the city Reykjavik marathon in August. In the weeks just before ROUT-2014 I emphasized cross country and mountain running in Crete. During my tapering period, the days just before the race, when I was following the weather forecast for Rodopi, I therefore felt ready for the event and was hoping that conditions would be favorable.

I arrived with my wife, Ólöf, at the starting point, the Forest Village, the day before the race. We were both greeted by number of participants and organizers, many of which we had met the year before.
It made me feel like part of the “adventure gang”, “the ROUT family”.
Energy loading at a pasta dinner the day before the race 2014.

The maximum number of participants which were allowed to enter, a total of 120, were registered. I could feel an atmosphere of excitement mixed with an anxiety in the village when I picked up my bib number and had my final energy loading before the race at the pasta dinner.
After a moderate sleeping, the night before, in a nearby village, I started my second ROUT-race among total of 115 participants 6:00 o´clock in the morning, 17th of October. Ahead was a cruel 164 km running along a track of rough surface, rocky and steep to a large extend to be finished within 40 hours this year. The first quarter of the track (41 km) was largely downhill in the direction to west to a place called Zarkadia. After that the route made an 82 km anticlockwise circle followed by the 41 km, largely uphill, path back from Zarkadia to the finishing line at the Forest Village (see Figure). The first half of the circle rout was largely uphill whereas the latter half was mostly downhill. The highest point, half way through (82 km), about 1600 m above the sea-level, was close to the Greece-Bulgarian boarder. The total altitude gain was about 8000 m. A total of 26 checkpoints were on the way, of which only 6 were aid stations. Runners, therefore, needed to carry with them water and energy supplies as well as clothes to some extent.
The ROUT -100 mile / 164 km track: the route map (top) and profile (bottom)

Gradually the group of runners got spread out along the track as time passed from the beginning of the race. I found myself largely running on my own after about 20 km and only rarely passed or were passed by other runners during the race after that. Throughout the race I made sure to drink water and energy drinks frequently from squeeze bottles as well as to eat gels or energy bars regularly.to minimize energy loss. At the aid stations I refilled used supplies and added on as much food and drinks as I felt that I could tolerate. Furthermore, at those aid stations where I had drop-bags waiting (at 41, 69 and 123 km), I changes socks after cleaning and lubricating my feet. In contrast to large number of the participants I did not use poles throughout. Instead I left poles in my last drop-bag for to use in the steepest, uphill, last quarter of the race.
The track involved a rough mountain trail in a dense forest (picture from http://explorerssociety.gr/games_news_d/51/mixalis-stullas-giati-kathe-fora-pou-teleiwnei-enas-rout-skeftomai-amesws-ton-epomeno.html )

The track consisted of all types of surfaces from asphalt to muddy roads, soft grass to rocky surfaces, wet and dry. One needed to climb steep hills and cliffs, jump over rivers and logs and slide down slippery slopes both in daylight and dark. The passage, therefore, varied a lot in speed and technique between a slow uphill walking to a fast downhill running. Only rarely was there an opportunity to run at a constant pace for long. The markings along the track were very good and I got the impression that these had been improved from last year. It was easy to find the way in the dark due to large number of clearly visible reflectors on the way. This year I never got lost.

The limited number of aid stations (six in total) made one longing particularly much for each of them and their appearance felt like seeing an oasis in the desert!!!

Generally I felt good throughout the race. In long term the energy decreased, as to be expected, but I never felt close to exhaustion. In the last quarter of the race, however, my feet started hurting of blisters. It gradually worsened and felt particularly bad when I was running downhill on rocky surfaces, which made me crave for softer surfaces or even uphill walking! At the last aid station (137 km) I received an interim treatment by the medical team which softened the pain somewhat. It was relieve to reach the last checkpoint. After that there was almost a flat, relatively soft road track of about 7 km until the finishing line. It felt, however, like a never ending road with pain in my feet for every step.
When I had the impression that I was about to finish these 7 km a sign indicating “5 km left” appeared! I felt weird!


The day before the race I and my wife, Ólöf, had walked the last km of the track. Then we had noticed a clear sign indicating “1000 m left”. Now, I was searching desperately for the sign! Eventually I saw it(?). I speed-ed up, determined, with head down. I looked up again, but the sign had gone! Could it be that I had seen a false illusion triggered by wish-thoughts after almost 34 hours of continuous running?
… and now a woman appeared just ahead! …but this time it was real(!); it was my wife. What a moment!!!


I was getting close to finishing. Shortly afterwards we passed the real “1000m” sign together. I could hear voices ahead and a sound of bells. The open field of the Forest Village appeared, the finishing sign was in sight, bells were louder and people shouting. I “jumped” forward and crossed the finishing line with a smile on my face and tears in the eyes. WHAT A MOMENT….
Approaching the finishing line

I had finished the race in about 34 hours and 7 minutes, which was almost a 4 and a half hour improvement from last year when I finished in about 38 and a half hours. Looking back and searching into the results of the two races (See Figure) convinced me that the improvement was a combination of number of factors:

First of all I approached the event with less hesitation this year, which meant that my average running speed was higher.

Furthermore, I was better organized this year and spend less time at the aid stations. Finally I did not get lost this year as I did last year.
At the finishing line in the afternoon,18th October 2014
Elapsed time from the start of race to checkpoints and aid stations in 2013 and 2014 (top); time difference (2013–2014; bottom): Á. Kvaran

Another advendure run is now over. I have been left with memories of an incredible and unforgettable event, an event which has made me understand myself better and to find out what are my limitations and what can possibly be improved.
These memories will stay with me for the rest of my live and now I have a lot of stories to tell my grandchildren about the wonder-world of “the ROUT family” in Rodopi!


Ágúst Kvaran is an advendurunner and a Professor in physical chemistry, Science Institute,University of Iceland,Dunhagi 3, 107 Reykjavík,Iceland http://www.hi.is/~agust/ . Since 2013 is a member of ROUT Family
Maurice Politis and Ruck Stuff recommended

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