MUM - Moravian Ultramarathon: July 2017
Seven marathons in seven days. Impressive, isn’t it? At least that's how it has sounded to me for several years since the moment I first heard about this event. How can any human run almost three hundred kilometers in one week? I knew that it usually took me several days just to recover from one marathon. How can anyone run seven of them in a row? However unbelievable it may sound, the results have repeatedly demonstrated that indeed, at least a handful of people are capable of enduring such an ordeal. Thus I made up my mind to try it one day…
The Moravian Ultramarathon is a multi-stage race that annually takes place in Lomnice, a small town located in the Czech Republic no more than eight kilometers from my home town. In each stage, runners have to cover a marathon distance and at the same time overcome approximately one thousand meters of elevation. They do so from Sunday through Saturday, day after day without exception. Of course, one has the option to run just one or a few legs. And that’s just what I did two years ago. I ran two legs, on the fourth and seventh days respectively. It was not that bad, but it took me another two years before I gathered my courage and applied for the entire race. In fact, I applied only a few days before the event was supposed to start, because I was still hesitating.
I enjoyed the first-day marathon, but after I had finished, I felt very exhausted. My thighs and calves were burning and I even felt discomfort in my back, hence I could hardly imagine running again on the following day. That feeling was something I had already been prepared for. I knew that there was some chance that I might not be capable of finishing the entire race. Each year there were a considerable number of runners who, for various reasons, were not able to complete the competition. Even when I woke up the next morning, I was still feeling a significant amount of pain, but it was not quite as bad as the day before, so I decided I was going to give it a try: at 2 pm I was standing at the starting line again.
To my amazement, I felt much better during the day-two run. I set myself an appropriate pace from the beginning and the run seemed to be easier than the day before. Even when I finished, I felt less fatigued. And so it went on until the end of the fifth day. Even though I felt tension in my muscles, it was quite bearable and I could imagine running under such conditions indefinitely. Then on the fifth day I noticed blisters developing on the sole of my take-off leg. Despite using an adhesive plaster, the pain got worse and worse during the last two days.
I made it in the end, but the very last day was quite an ordeal. The pain had gotten very intense. Nonetheless, I had learned that my mind is somehow capable of overcoming the pain. It is hard to explain, but evidently the focus of my thinking was so narrow that the pain demanded my attention only occasionally. I noticed that with each additional day, my mind’s focus got sharper and sharper. I only concentrated on a very limited number of topics: how much time had elapsed, what my pace was, and what the remaining distance was. And, because I was shooting the runs with my camera, I was also thinking about the illumination, exposure, and perspective. But nothing else.
The entire week went by very fast. The days were all alike: getting up, preparing stuff for running, lubing body parts, preparing regenerative drinks to be used during and after the run, eating sufficiently, biking to Lomnice to catch the bus to the start of each respective stage, going home after the run, and in the evening processing the videos captured that day. It was almost impossible to focus on anything else. On the fifth or maybe sixth day, my wife tried to explain something to me, but I was completely unable to understand her, because I was not capable of shifting the focus of my mind. It was as if I inhabited a different reality that whole week.
I don't want to burden anyone with too many details, but I need to stress some key insights: I learned that I can rely on my body. I also learned that my body is capable of much more than I ever thought or believed. Now I understand how some people can run for weeks or even months. Of course, appropriate training is essential. I could never have undergone this event without extensive training. But now I know I can stretch my limits to a great degree. In addition, I am also grateful that I could meet people with a similar mindset. People with the same interests, with whom I could share my concerns and experiences. I am truly thankful that I experienced this race. It brought me an immeasurable boost in my self-confidence. Be sure to check out the videos I shot to get at least some impression of how it all was.
|stage||start - finish||distance||climb / descent||duration||difficulty||route.gpx||rating|
|1st stage: Lomnická||Lomnice - loop||42.18 km||1000m / 1000m||4:31||40%||download||★★☆☆☆|
|2nd stage: Boskovická||Boskovice - Lomnice||43.02 km||909m / 913m||4:46||40%||download||★★★☆☆|
|3rd stage: Blanenská||Blansko - Lomnice||42.75 km||973m / 877m||4:36||40%||download||★★★☆☆|
|4th stage: Tišnovská||Tišnov - Lomnice||42.04 km||971m / 850m||4:43||50%||download||★★☆☆☆|
|5th stage: Olešnická||Olešnice - Lomnice||41.79 km||837m / 975m||4:25||30%||download||★★☆☆☆|
|6th stage: Bystřická||Bystřice/P. - Lomnice||41.95 km||988m / 1114m||4:30||30%||download||★★☆☆☆|
|7th stage: Cimrmanova||Lomnice - 2 rounds||42.34 km||810m / 810m||4:35||40%||download||★★☆☆☆|