EUrunner - High Ash Mountains 2017
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High Ash Mountains: August 2017
Posted on September 18th, 2017

By now you are most probably familiar with my plan to eventually conquer the Alps. However, in order to attain the appropriate condition, I have to proceed gradually in both building my endurance and acquiring the skills needed for such a challenge. I have already mastered ultra-distance runs longer than 100K. I have also managed to run through the night, and lately, I even ran multiple days in a row. In undertaking this particular ultra-run in the High Ash Mountains, I wanted to try running a few days without any support or backup, having only limited resources and equipment that could be carried in a small backpack.

meadow with distant view of mountain ridge

Initially, I was even considering sleeping outdoors, under the wide-open sky, but then I decided that this adventure would be better left until next year. It might be wiser and safer to proceed one step at a time. Besides, I don’t have the appropriate gear anyway. At the very least I have to purchase a lightweight sleeping pad. Thus, I planned a figure-eight-shaped three-day course so as to sleep both nights at the same location. It seemed quite a sensible plan, because this way I could reduce the weight of my backpack even more by simply leaving some items from the pack in my room.

On the first day, I arrived at the town of Rýmařov. I left my car in a parking lot close to the central bus station because I assumed there would be a security camera installed, which I figured would increase the chances of finding the car upon my return. Prior to my run, I dined on a pizza in a restaurant situated in the town's main square and then once again checked on the car.

piece of rock

The distance on the first day was rather short, only 34 kilometers, so I did not have to hurry. It took me about four hours to get to the chalet. The trail was easy. I advanced towards my destination steadily but surely. Only one part of the trail was particularly demanding, and yet the most beautiful: it ran parallel to the bed of the Bílá Opava rivulet, providing multiple technical passages and excellent trail running terrain.

The first few kilometers of the second-day run were altogether pleasant. I was enjoying a scenic descent from the crest of the mountains, however, when I found myself faced with a harsh reality. I suddenly realized that I would have to run a significant portion of the track on an asphalt surface. At home, I had planned the course so as to follow the marked hiking paths. Naturally, I had expected that most of it would lead through footpaths and trails. But such was not the case. To my chagrin I ended up running more than ten kilometers on a busy road.

There were plenty of fresh streams and wells all along the way, so every now and then I could refill my water canteens. On the other hand, my eating options were quite limited. I passed a few snack bars and restaurants, but their fare was intended for hearty stomachs. Thus, I ended up eating fried potato pancakes, French fries, soup, and sausages along the way, washing it all down with beer and counting on the resilience of my stomach. Needless to say, by the end of the run I did not feel very well. Next time, when planning a multi-day event, I have to pay closer attention to the fueling.

sunset over the mountains

The last leg of that day’s run, after I had climbed back to the ridge again, was the most appealing part of the experience. It struck me yet again that running above an altitude of one thousand meters suits me best. The run from the top of Šerák mountain and through the ridge in the soft afternoon sunlight was simply exhilarating. I reached the chalet with the dusk, took a shower and got into bed. It turned out that I slept much better than the previous night. It was a pleasant surprise, because I usually don’t sleep soundly after a long run, and I had expected that things would get worse with each passing day. I realized that I need to closely study the links between running and sleeping in future.

The last day too got off to a promising start. I ran a few kilometers on the asphalt road with no traffic to dodge, and continued by following the path on the ridge. The weather was pleasant: partly cloudy, here and there sun beams provided a welcome touch of warmth. As I started descending, my stomach began to feel upset, so I slowed down the pace a little. Despite my caution the discomfort was gradually getting worse. A few kilometers later, I had to quickly dash behind the nearest bush… At least I didn’t poop my pants. I took that as my penalty for the previous day's fueling.

And the takeaway? I was used to carefully planning where to acquire my fluids for each run. Now I know that I will have to pay closer attention to where and what I eat. I've also learned that I need to make a detailed study of the layout of every route so as to avoid roads with heavy traffic in future. Admittedly, this was not one of my most fulfilling ventures. The bottom line? When I reflect on what I gained in experience and knowledge, the benefits outweighed the costs. All in all, I'm pleased to have done it.

start - finish distance climb / descent duration difficulty run / walk route.gpx rating
day #1 Rýmařov - Švýcárna 34.31 km 1173m / 490m 4:38 50% 98% / 2% download ★★★★
day #2 Švýcárna - okruh 65.60 km 2460m / 2460m 11:08 60% 90% / 10% download ★★★☆☆
day #3 Švýcárna - Rýmařov 25.93 km 311m / 1005m 3:53 30% 100% download ★★★☆☆

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