RELAX …

Imagine yourself wandering in a dark forest at night …

The forest is really vast and dense  …

Within this mystic environment YOU are constantly moving …

Sometimes you walk … sometimes you run …

And everything is so quiet that the only things that you hear are your own breathing and the crackling sound of the rotten branches as you pass by them …

As the hours pass, you can feel their toll on your legs…

You have the feeling that – despite the effort – you are hardly proceeding in this never ending forest…

You are really tired… and sleep deprived….

Pain comes and goes… or stays …

And your mood alternates as well …

Sometimes it lifts … sometimes it reaches the barrels bottom…

Nevertheless, you keep going …

All of a sudden, you reach a luminous oasis with warm hearted people who welcome you with comforters and a warm soup…

How touching is their supportive presence here in the middle of nowhere…

You sit … but only for a while… If you want to experience more…

Once again  you disappear  into the dark….

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Photo @ Babis Giritziotis /Canon

 

Your eyes are hardly staying open…

You switch off your headlamp in a clearing and stare at the millions of stars…

Did you ever imagine that they could be so bright?

It’s really overwhelming !

Loneliness fades away as you start feeling the immediate connection with something way bigger …

But here as well – in the forest – you are not alone either…

A hundred more or less souls, largely spaced apart, are also wandering within this vastness …

Just like you do!

Who are these people?

A few of them are familiar to you, others not…

Does it matter?

No social, economical, ethnic or other difference can separate you here …

In fact something unites you all !

It’s this “so out of our modern lives experience” …

Once in a while the fauna’s sounds interrupt the silence …

You are well accustomed to them …

For others they sound weird, others are scared …

Some of you may already have had special experiences in the mountains, for others it’s the first time…

But all of you understand that right now you are experiencing something SPECIAL and you let yourselves live it to the full…

 

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Down comes…

Steadily, your grey world transforms into a full color one…

You feel your spirit rejuvenated …

Your surroundings seem like a fairytale land and their beauty touches your soul…

You feel blessed for living this …

As the hours pass by, you start believing that you may live it all the way till the end…

Maybe not…

Whatever happens you have already seen, heard, felt so many beautiful things…

And you got to know parts of yourself a little bit better….

 

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The play takes place every October, when the forest is dressed in its most colorful suit …

As the years pass a warm community forms by those who keep returning, attracted by the call of the experience in the magical forest whatever their role is …

You already consider some of them as part of your family …!

The  relationship with the forest evolves …

Your  exploits become way more frequent 

You feel really connected to it and understand the responsibility to protect it !

The forest no longer considers you as a visitor and starts unlocking its secrets to you …

 

The vast forest is Rodopi Mountains National Park in Greece and the Experience … “ ROUT 100 miles ” !

 

 


 

3 weeks ago I participated in the 7th edition of SALEWA Olympus Mythical Trail, known as the toughest Ultra Trail race in Greece !

Even though my explorations on the “Mountain of the Gods” are more than frequent, I thoroughly enjoy participating – as well as other fellow athletes – EVERY YEAR to this great event.

So, after another memorable participation, I thought I should write down a few reasons why perhaps YOU TOO should add it on your bucket list:

1) First and foremost, to run an Ultra on the mythical Mount Olympus, one of the great Symbols of the ancient world, where – according to the Ancient Greeks – the Gods lived ! To wander DAY and NIGHT through its extremely diverse landscapes (dense forests, gorges, alpine meadows, aerie ridges etc) that are spread out from nearly sea level all the way to its second highest summit (2911m) that the route passes through !

2) To challenge yourself in one of Europe’s toughest 100k Ultra Trails, according to all the international athletes that participated, including this year’s winner Antoine Guillon . To deal with the fatigue and psychological stress caused by 6500m D+ on mostly rough trails, when your world at times narrows for hours to the beam of your headlamp and at times widens immensely on the Mythical ridges !

3) To witness – tired and sleep deprived – from 2000m to 2900m the OTHERWORLDLY spectacle of SUNRISE, as the never ending horizon turns slowly blood red and the sun rises from the sea, and to observe how your own body and mind awakens as well !

4) To meet new interesting people from the Ultra-friendly Ultra Trail community and hangout with them during the event at the race “ headquarters”, the beautiful grove of Ai Giannis. This idyllic spot at the outskirts of Litochoro, where you could also camp, gains a vibrant touch with the help of the main sponsor, the top mountaineering brand SALEWA, and is certainly the “Place To Be” before and after the race !

5) To be part of a more than well organized event ! The race organizer – a veteran athlete himself – is an “artist” in his kind and you can be ABSOLUTELY CONFIDENT that not the slightest detail regarding the race has been left unattended ! Skilled volunteers and rescuers  are spread out at the Aid stations along the route, as the race is held under the varying conditions of a #PureMountain !

6) To combine the race with your vacations with friends or family, as the area has many attractions. Scenic beaches and archeological and cultural sites are less than 6 km away from Litochoro, the main hub in the area, with Mount Olympus itself being the crown jewel and an absolute MUST SEE ! 

The next edition of SALEWA Olympus Mythical Trail 100k will be held on 29-30/06/2019 and a wealth of practical information regarding  the race can be found on www.omt100.com

 

Photo credits: Babis Giritziotis/GO Experience, omt100.com

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