I look at my wrist, where I have a sun-tattooed strap from a GPS watch – just a nostalgic memory of the last days. I rub my feet from the thorns and protruding roots of the Slovak mountains, ankles and knees with horse ointment in the hope that the pain will ease. I push vitamins into myself and I eat everything I have at home, as I am 3kg lighter. Yesterday, after 12 “running” days, I completed the 700 km run of the SNP heroes from Dukla to Bratislava.
The decision to run the 700 km ultra trail was more or less spontaneous. Since I had more than one unused vacation and my distant dream to run sometimes E1 needs preparation, so within local possibilities I decided to run 700 km from the SNP Heroes’ Road (which is part of E8 ) from Dukla to Bratislava with minor modifications due to “runability”. I ran for 12 days and the whole trip lasted 14 (I rested for two days). After three running days from Dukla to Gelnica I had a break for 1 day and after the next three running days (Gelnica – Donovaly) I took a break for another day. Then I went to Bratislava for 6 days of taste. I ran 9-10 hours a day, I was on my feet for about 12 hours with breaks and I finished at six in the evening.I had a baby for 6.5 days out of 12, my fiancée accompanied me for 6 days and my brother ran with me on the last day.
The training largely consisted of honest planning and a bit of training. I had no physical support and I carried everything on my own back. Every detail required attention, special accommodation, creating an itinerary, planning a daily destination with a reasonable elevation, distribution of water supplies, getting acquainted with the distribution of springs all the way from Dukla to Bratislava, finding out about the possibilities of proper hot food and distribution of shops, very important technical equipment such as mainly GPS maps, GPS watches, GoPro, mp3 player, the right clothes and last but not least the packaging system.
Retrospectively, when I remember the whole run from Dukla to Bratislava, I don’t care. The well-known Slovak and at the same time ultra trail proverb “who is afraid not to go to the forest” still sounds in my head, but at the same time I remember very well how I felt during this 700 km run. It was a challenge. I didn’t know if I could do it. You can’t know that in advance. I was determined to give it my all. But when the body quits obedience, I sprain my ankle, I get tendonitis, my knee goes away, I slip and I break something by accident, or I wouldn’t agree with a bear or a deer that has rut… there are a lot of variables when running the SNP Heroes’ Path and the result was uncertain.
Those who are not interested in the story and are rather looking for the facts can skip the next section and go to the end of this article, where I discuss technical information. I hope everyone else enjoys what will follow. After studying the map and calling the accommodation facilities, I decided that my running route of the SNP heroes will be divided into the following running days:
day 1: Dukla – Bardejov (69.1km / 2273m);
day 2: Bardejov – Prešov (50.4km / 1550m);
day 3: Prešov – Gelnica (56.7km / 2230m);
day 4: Gelnica – Dedinky (57.6km / 2426m)
day 5: Villages – Ramža (58.4km / 3230m)
day 6: Ramža – Donovaly (61.7km / 3006m)
day 7: Donovaly – Krahule (50.9km / 2607m)
day 8: Krahule – Fačkovské sedlo (57.4km / 2139m)
day 9: Fačkovské sedlo – Trenč. Teplice (54.2km / 2434m)
day 10: Trenč. Teplice – Veľká Javorina (59.7km / 2217m)
day 11: Veľká Javorina – Smolenice (62.8km / 1702m)
day 12: Smolenice – Bratislava Rača (58.3km / 1906m)
The paper can withstand a lot, as they say…
Daily routine of the journey of SNP heroes – running
I had the day divided into a morning routine, a daily routine, an evening routine and a lot of beautiful moments in between. Almost every day I was in a different mountain range; different forests, different mountains, different accents, different local beers, different weather, different heights, different challenges. If you want to try to run from Dukla to Bratislava, you must have the main determination to reach the set goal every day and to solve all difficulties operatively along the way. Starting with injuries, food, water, navigation, rain, unregenerated body, temperature or actually cold, daily wet sneakers in the morning and evening, clothing, etc.
Alarm clock at 05:00. Quick breakfast (if there was something to eat – ie if I didn’t want to eat Corny / Mila or something like that, I had to buy breakfast at the shop / restaurant the night before and eat it cold in the morning. Still better than nothing). To brush my teeth, fill a camelbag and 2x 0.5 bottles (min. 1 of them jonťák + chia, 60 ml bottles from RedBull served me well for jonťák and chiu), get dressed (t-shirt, three-quarter running gate from Lidlo for 6 éčky) – ), a neckband from Štefánik ultra, Salomon cap, pack properly all gear and remaining clothes, turn on GPS on Suunto watch and mobile and start at dawn at 06:00.
Break planning, especially lunch around 12:00 to 13:00, daily route, distribution of forces. Every day was different in this. Mostly I knew where I would have lunch, but in some places (villages / farmsteads) I just hoped there would be a cottage / restaurant / shop. At least one good meal a day I needed to eat otherwise my performance was noticeably declining. I kept in mind that good hydration increases performance, so everywhere I could, I had at least 1 beer / kofola, according to taste. If possible, soup as well.
I had a GPS map (Android phone with the Maps Hiking SK application and Locus Free ) right at my fingertips, and as soon as I wasn’t sure, I pulled it out. I didn’t have time to play the hero and look for a way, those kilometers every day are relentless and so I needed to minimize the extension of the route as much as possible. Every 10-15km I ate something (if I didn’t forget), banana if I had, chocolate, Corny, Mila or in the end I really liked Snickers. When I had a craving for something salty, I had dried meat or peanuts (light, salty and the body is saturated a little of it).
It consisted of finding a pre-arranged accommodation (pension / hostel / cozy), finding dinner and at the same time providing breakfast, whether buying something in a shop, agreeing with a cottage that he would bring me a plate with some nutella / jam / butter to take to the room, or food packaging in a restaurant / guesthouse. Every night I had to charge my mobile phone, watch, GoPro, mp3 player if I used it that day. Wash t-shirt, socks and underwear. The best part of the day, apart from dinner, was a really warm shower and a good night’s sleep.
Day after day on a 700 km long run
(Day 1) I am pleasantly surprised by the quality of the marked and mainly built SNP Heroes’ Trail near the Dukliansky Pass in the Eastern Carpathians. The hills here are not very high, but the forests are old and you can feel the wilderness. There is actually a direct line for wildlife from Polonín. At any moment I’m expecting a bear or a stray bison… We run through Death Valley, where there are tanks, trenches, cannons and other weapons from the period II. world war . Memories of 70 thousand. the dead of 1944 in these places evokes strong feelings in me.
It drips gently. In Svidník (26.5km) we are looking for a restaurant. The stomachs ask for something warm. We still have energy, so does motivation. We continue. In the nearest village about 14km we are looking for a pub. Surprisingly, we catch up before the pub opens. Luckily, the innkeeper miraculously came and gave us a local beer, some shocola and salty chips. Salt needs to be added continuously to avoid cramps. We reach Bardejov after dark. In Kaufland we buy breakfast and look for our guesthouse. Quick dinner at a nearby restaurant, charging phones, washing things and going to bed.
(Day 2) Bardejov looks like a very nice town… maybe next time, we are in a hurry in the morning. The ascent to Žobrák in the Čergov mountains was very unpleasant. Swarms of flies attacked us for at least 2 hours. I killed four in one clap. We are all the more motivated to run. At the cottage in the Čergov saddle, we happily “passed” a rapid storm and then we run through the wet forest along the ridge to the fair in the village of Terňa. The organizers surprisingly asked us to be impartial judges of the local sourdough cake competition. ” Yeah, but they were good. “Then just over the hill to Prešov.
(Day 3) The road from Prešov to Gelnice took us through smaller hills and villages. The asphalt did not escape us this day. For lunch we had croissants with ham at a bus stop in a small village. Then around the Ružín dam to Kojšov (where the Východniarska 100 also goes ) , where for several hours we went through the hills directly in the opposite direction to the motorcyclists competing on ISDE . It wasn’t pleasant. I had a mandatory break in Gelnice one day and then on.
(Day 4) I was expecting a long day without drinking water. I went as fast as I could, which was actually very slow due to the widespread calamity. The trees were attacked one over the other, the road thrown by a brothel, the sign did not exist. I prayed that I would not pierce my sneakers on sharp broken branches and that I would not slip, unfortunately. My legs were bleeding from thorns, I made my way through the bushes, the tall grass, the thorny vegetation, the sharp branches, but the horror. After 30 km I walked through the first village of the day and bought a dry lunch (rolls with ham, tuna and a can of radler). Also, the shops were open when the pubs were no longer. My legs were bitten by small wounds, which are not healed today (in 3 weeks).
(Day 5) I leave the villages at 06:00 in the direction of Telgárt. A pleasant ascent to Kráľova Hoľa (1946m) lasted a little under 1:20 am and then a relaxing run to Andrejc’s shelter where I finally had a warm cabbage for a “late lunch”, for which traditionally you do not pay. The weather on the ridge of the Low Tatras was not much: overcast, steady wind, drizzle to light rain, 3-4 degrees Celsius, views none but on the other hand at least enough water in sneakers. ” I love the Tatras and I don’t care what weather I’m in.”
I did not run to the Ramža shelter (1260m) until the early evening. I refilled my drinking water and found a place to sleep. Fortunately, there were already two games in the shelter, so the fire was started – I was very relieved. I quickly put all things dry around the oven. I warmed up, chose a “running sleeping bag” (see equipment section). Tonight was to be its premiere. I was a little cold, as this sleeping bag is about 10 degrees Celsius and it was around zero in the morning. I dined on “Oat king” and dried meat. I’m falling asleep.
(Day 6) I leave Ramže at 06:00. ” I apologize to all those who slept on Rama from September 10-11, 2015, as I definitely woke you up next to the morning pack. I really tried to be as quiet as possible. “It was still raining in the morning. “Oh the joy.” I reach Čertovice before the opening of the first rest stops. I have to go on without breakfast, so without hesitation I head towards Ďumbier to Chata MR Štefánik, where I catch up very exhausted. The sixth day on my feet and almost 1.5 days without proper cooked food left traces on me. I do not rule.
At the MR Štefánik pod Ďumbierom Cottage (1740m) they cook very well as always. I’m talking to a mature couple. They warn me of deer who are just roaring, which is quite obvious from the ubiquitous liability. I have bells, but sometimes I can’t hear them in strong winds. ” Well, what? ” It simply came to our notice then. There are 2 degrees Celsius, it rains, it blows, no visibility – such a normal autumn day in the Low Tatras. ” Hehe . “ After the ridge, I run to the cozy Ďurková(1750m). I’m very broken to wrap it up here. My fiancée is calling me that she is on the way from BA in the direction of Donovaly, so at 16:00 I will pick up from Ďurková and I will manage the last 27 km to Donovaly in 4:30 hours. At Donovaly I am ready to finish the whole run and go home. Finally, I will enjoy at least a day off for regeneration.
(Day 7) The fiancée decided to accompany me for the next 3 days and so at 06:00 in the morning we climb together to Zvolen (1403m). ” Yes, the hill is also chosen…” After the beautiful ridge of the Great Fatra, we run all the way to Krížna (1574m). The views are amazing. We have lunch with which we were not satisfied at all in an overpriced buffet at Kráľova studní (” that’s why I don’t even give a link here ” ). A few kilometers later we cross to Kremnické Vrchy, where I have been grinding my teeth for a long time. In the end, I’m glad they’re behind me. Don’t take me wrong. It is a beautiful piece of land, beautiful forests, steep mountains, sweet blueberries, no tourists, amazing Slovak nature. But running in them is very difficult.
For today, I had planned the second shortest distance of the entire 700 km ultra trail. In reality, we ran only 53 km this day, but the elevation gain above 2600 m was felt on our feet after so many days. Unfortunately, nothing is open on Skalka in Kremnické vrchy outside the tourist season. There was still a “school in nature” at the Limba mountain hut. Even though we obviously didn’t fit in with the children and they didn’t give us dinner, because they ate everything small branches, so at least we rested and ate from the dried meat, which was one of my basic equipment. Then only 5 km run and search for tourist accommodation in Krahuly.
(Day 8)It was getting dark. Tired after more than 450 km, we catch the last few kilometers in the dense forest to Fačkovské sedlo in Mala Fatra when I suddenly see a bear trail here. One clue doesn’t mean anything yet, I’m a little happy and I feel “closer to nature”. We run on and suddenly the tracks are everywhere: big, medium, small, one over the other, they overlap, that is,… suddenly the branches crack about 5m to the left in the forest. I turn my head with lightning speed and see the outlines of a bear, which walks along the quadrupeds along the path in a dense stand. We scared him as much as he scared us. The bear immediately disappears in the dense growth and gloom of the untouched forest of Mala Fatra. We blow the whistles, hit the running sticks at each other, talk aloud, step back 10m and wait. After a few minutes, we continue with a pounding heart and an increased level of adrenaline, which lasted for half of the next day. “Will the fun never end?“
(Day 9) A recipe for how to manage 11km in 3 hours: set off from Fačkovské sedlo ( Malofatranska 100 ) to the village of Čičmany after a rainy night, with thick fog, without knowledge of routes and constantly looking for stray bears. I didn’t want to believe my own eyes when I saw that time on my Suunto watch. We bought a late breakfast in Čičmany and continued along the red mark. You will not like Strážov (1213m), then through Vápeč (956m) to Trenčianske Teplice. The last few kilometers of today’s stage were accompanied by the strengthening of our girlfriend’s leg, which then became really swollen. Running 6 days without proper training (Dukla – Gelnica, and then Donovaly – Tren. Teplice – half of Slovakia) is still a superhuman performance. “You are great!”
(Day 10) The next few days I continued on my own. There is a relaxing journey through Trenčín to the border with the Czech Republic; that is, in addition to concrete in Trenčín and a huge urge to jump on the train to Bratislava. In the White Carpathians, I have always liked the Slovak / Czech border. It is such a “straight” at a height of about 700m, where it runs very well (similar to Javorník). In addition to the red sign towards Veľká Javorina ( Lazova 100 ), there are many cottages that offer refreshments. At least here I didn’t have to worry about where I would eat and drink. My body was slowly fading.
(Day 11) From Veľká Javorina (970m) there is an 18km run to Myjava, which you will quickly pass. In Myjava I had a huge desire to jump on the train again… I finally ended up in Bill and bought some bananas and a radler and started climbing the MR Štefnánik Mound ( Štefánik Ultra trail 140 ). There was another beer, a run to Brezová pod Bradlom and lunch at a local soup kitchen aka “restaurant”. Then only through the village of Dobrá voda, where I remembered the legendary Trnavská 100 , to Smolenice. Sleeping in the cheapest hostel was a mistake: dirty, dusty, unhygienic. The closer to Bratislava, the lower the quality of services. When accommodation at least over 8 euros or then below the width. Just as if that wasn’t enough, I made my first blister today dva and two. “A hill of fun… “ I felt my body fall apart more and more.
(Day 12) Last day. Pain. Just hold on. I try to focus on the journey, to distract the mind, to enjoy the last moments (hours) of this 700km ultra trail from Dukla to Bratislava. It’s hard for me, even harder to run – the hardest in the last 12 “running days”. Fortunately, my brother came to wait for Pezinská Baba. After lunch, we set off on the last 20 kilometers of this ultra trail. In pairs, I run incomparably better, ordinary human communication works wonders.
On the way from Pezinská Baby to Bratislava, I know maybe every meter and suddenly we are at the White Cross where I have my last trail beer. I run to Rača in Bratislava with a smile from ear to ear. Happy, tired, full of experiences, feelings, experiences. I’m glad I’m home.
A few things I learned
I stopped climbing full weight on fallen tree trunks. During drizzle, rain, morning and evening dew they are extremely slippery and I slipped unexpectedly a few times;
I can’t praise running sticks for such an ultra trail. Several times they saved me from a very ugly fall and are one of the reasons why I came to Bratislava in its entirety;
Running cap> goggles in case of long ultras. Since it runs from morning to evening for several days of taste in different weather, the cap is, in my opinion, more advantageous due to greater functionality: sun and rain visor, headgear in case of winter, inverted cap protects the neck against sunburn and the headlamp holds better at night ;
Give your body what it asks. Whether it’s beer, kofola, Montenegrin steak, or gummy bears. The path of SNP heroes cannot be crossed on salads or on purely chemical-energy products like a normal 100km ultra trail. At these distances, you need a real diet at least once a day, or your performance will go very low;
One GPS map in a mobile phone is not enough. I had at least two maps, one tourist, the other with a clicked GPS route, and in case of difficulties I used both. No map is perfect and you would be amazed at what small trails can be marked on some maps. Having at least 2 sources of trip information can solve some navigation problems quickly and conveniently;
I always have an Emergency whistle on hand. I think the team to know it at the time of use when needed. I don’t recommend having it tucked in somewhere. Hope you don’t need it, but if you happen to, you need it “now and not for a while.” Think about where you put it, open the backpack, and pull it away from I don’t know where… then it’s too late.
How does it really feel to run all over Slovakia? Strange. On the one hand very nice, on the other a little scary. I’m still watching the whole 700 km run with awe. This challenge has shown me how strong and fragile a person can be. One feels weaker and weaker every day, as the body slowly disintegrates, has fewer and fewer strengths, and needs a longer break, but on the other hand, one feels stronger than ever before. It’s a paradox. I have read the next chapter in the book of self-knowledge and I also recommend you to open your book and discover what the following ultra-trail chapters hide.
mobile (Android with uploaded itinerary);
3x GPS map in mobile (tourist Maps Hiking SK, Locus Free with recorded GPS route Cesty hrdinov SNP, Google offline maps for quick finding of guesthouses / cottages in cities);
headlamp (+ spare flashlights);
GPS watch Suunto Ambit 2 (tracking of the route, distance traveled, time, storm alarm, pressure, altitude, in extreme cases reverse navigation, battery life for GPS up to 50h);
GoPro + holder;
running backpack Salomon Advanced Skin S-LAB 12 (2013 model)
Salomon Sense Mantra running shoes (door-to-trail sole)
bunda ultra lightweight Mammut (windstopper/waterproof)
my special “running sleeping bag” = SOL Escape Bivvy (ultra lightweight sleeping bag replacement up to 10 degrees Celsius)
First Aid Kit Deuter (+ folder wrapped in emergency fire paper, lighter)
running sticks Black Diamond
jingle bells (bears, deer and other wildlife, it doesn’t work very well for people…)
2x t-shirt (with a seam in front of and behind the shoulder, not on the top of the shoulder),
1x ultra lightweight long sleeve t-shirt (evening change)
3/4 running gate from Lidl for 6 runs
2x Salomon running socks
2 running underwear
trail gaiters Salomon
Compressport compression sleeves (3/4 gate + sleeves formed 1 integral layer)
ultra lightweight gate Kalenji (disguise in the evening)
20/30 Quechua backpack raincoat (against drizzle and quasi kept the whole backpack dry)
poncho plastic raincoat (2 éčka, this cheap raincoat in combination with a quality jacket is an excellent solution against wet bushes / trees / tall grass (eg in the Low Tatras) associated with strong wind and rain. If it rains you will be “dry” from the knees above Only knee-to-knee wet, all other surface water from bushes / tall grass will be taken away by a raincoat and your jacket will retain at least the rest of your body heat. look “unprofessional”, or after 2 days in the rain wrap it up from high temperatures, or worse.)
2x 60ml bottle from Redbull shot for jonťák and chiu
Vaseline (in Kinder the egg was enough for me)
toilet paper, moisturized handkerchiefs
sweet food (Corny, Mila, Snickers, Horalka, etc.)
salty food (dried meat, peanuts)