Wild. Free. Muddy.
I don’t write race reports. I write down my emotions. I don’t create content. I create feelings. I don’t race for time. I run for the love of freedom.
Got back only last night and just like after crossing the finish line, I’m still hungry for more. What it is that made Lemkowyna so special? Why travel all the way to Poland? To Beskid Niskid, to the wild land of Lemkos. Well known for the severe weather condition and ankle/knee/(waist?) deep mud, it attract so many people that it sells out pretty much on the first day of registration. Considering the race will be part of Ultra-Trail World Tour as of next year, you better be quick. Slightly off-season, middle of October, in the golden Polish autumn woods (and all the mud) it offers distances between 30 to 150k. Something for everyone. Add the picturesque landscape of Beskid Niski. And the people. Because Lemkowyna is not yet-another-big-impersonal event. The people in the race and those behind the race make it really special and heart-warming experience. They make you want to come back year after year.
From all the things I loved about Lemkowyna – the personal touch beats it all. Krzys (the race director) came up with the idea four years ago – because there was no other race in the region. He is the person who is there all the time. From the first runners to the last man standing. Which is usually him. All the volunteers. People waiting and cheering alongside the course. The handmade medal – cow bell – with string which was sew together by hand. That home-made meal after the race. Which was not only super tasty but even vegan. The hot showers. The power hose to clean my muddy shoes. The hot tub! The local live band playing before the award ceremony. The glass trophy made in Krosno and the “piece of Lemkos land” in a jar for the winners. I almost hoped I was faster to get my hands on it.
But I was not. As per usual I ran my own race. Not against anyone. Not to compare. Not to beat time records. Not that I could. Not to race. Not to be better than anyone, not even to be better than myself. Yet I still raced the first half. And hell I loved it. But then the mud came and I met way too many amazing people to chat with. 3:40 something was my finishing time and maybe I’m not top 10, nor top 20 ( 27th – does top 30 exist?) but I loved it to bits. Those hills covered in autumnal leaves, all the colours, that sticky mud, the views, nothing too steeps, nothing too easy. Downgraded to 30k – and I’m not going to bore you with my stress fracture yet again – but I wish I didn’t!
And as the echo of cow bells is still ringing in my ears, those rolling hills are opening in front of my eyes, those friendly people around me chatting their way through… and even if I’m no longer covered in mud, I’m still smiling. This was a beautiful beautiful race. The one that warmed up my soul and made me fall in love with running all over again. And it seems like this is exactly what my fractured heart needed.
Thank you for this beautiful experience! To everyone involved, to Krzysztof Gajdzinski for inviting me and especially for putting together such a great event, to the whole crew behind the scenes (Piotr, Robert, Izabela… to name just the few) and to Gabrysia who started talking to me the first time I met her, Krzys and Winter in Bergamo. If it won’t be for that little chat two years ago, I would not know what I’m missing out on!
For more (all the) information go to http://www.ultralemkowyna.pl/en/ where you can find all the info about route, history, team, results, pictures.
See you next year!