It has been a few days, I could rest and reflect on the events of these long hours of effort. Before Stefanik Trail I was rather worried having never run anything close to such a distance. The clock started on time at 7 pm on Friday. I started out moderately and slowly overtaking other runners till 1st refreshment point in Dobra Voda village. After nightfall the route became more steep and rocky. Coupled with darkness it slowed my pace, yet I was still doing well compared to most runners keeping in top 25. Unfortunately around 30 km on a steep downhill section I hit a rock hard with my foot and fell – something that would come to haunt me later. As the night passed I continued in a fairly good shape. After 11 h of running I started to have stomach problems, could not eat at all and only drink very little. I reached Pezinska Baba in 11 h 59 min (79.3 km, 3350 m elevation gain at 27th place total) My condition started to rapidly deteriorate, longer break at refreshment station did little to help and I moved on gradually slowing down. I simply could not replenish my calories and water reserves. Morning brought cold winds and rain. I could not run or even walk fast enough to warm myself which further sapped what little strength I had. In the afternoon the weather cleared and brought scorching sun further exacerbating my dehydration. I was forced to a sluggish pace. Eventually exhausted I reached Kamzik in 20 h 40 min (107.6 km 4009 m elevation gain) At this point I knew if I do not recover I won’t be able to move at all.
My trail shoes were destroyed and my feet did not look much better. I had a spare ones ready for the more flat part left ahead. After examining my badly bruised toes medical personnel advised me to seek professional help and that was the end of the race for me. I spent evening in the hospital – luckily no broken bones this time.
I am disappointed that I failed to complete this great challenge though I set my new personal record for running. If it had not been for the health problems I am confident I would have done it. Out of 164 participants only 93 completed the 144 km race. It was my first attempt at an ultra run of such magnitude and I learned valuable lessons:
trekking poles are great on uphill section, especially later in the race – it was a good choice to take these
for such a distance shoes with more cushioning are a must or change shoes depending on the trail section
I should train night running – A LOT
even if it makes you sick try to eat, pack some special food for such situation
do not run as fast – I still had many hours left on Kamzik to complete the race
Many thanks for everyone who supported me (Marcin, Tomek, Gosia, Mateusz, Olga, Maciej) and all the dedicated volunteers who made this event an amazing experience.