nedeľa 22. mája 2016

X-berg Challenge /EN/

After the last few tough days spent in the African wilderness, I meet the other competing guys, pain and tiredness lovers, in the starting point for the X-berg contest, in Olivershoepass (or something like that). There are eighteen of us plus support for some of them.
I’m kind of shy and bashful, ‘cause all of the other guys know each other, they’ve been enjoying this drudgery for several years (until now there were 3 years of X-berg contest), they all know the shifty nature of the track, as well. It’s quite a pretty melting pot… for instance Mbulelo, leggy, skinny African, ultra-runner and when I tell him that I’m from Slovakia and add, in very frustrated manner, that no one knows my tiny little, though curious and lovely country… he replies “Ako sa maaash” (How are you – in Slovak)… I’m stunned. It’s incredible, travelling half way round the world and a guy here speak Slovak, just like that?! How’s that even possible? I’m asking… well, he had a girlfriend from Bratislava, she was a skiing instructor… pretty girls we have, he adds… indeed, he’s absolutely right!

The athletes here, I tell you, tough guys… for example Andrew Porter, tiny bloke, who has been running his whole life, climbed the Nose in one day, won and created records at Mweni Marathon, Skyrun and X-berg, made Drakensberg Grand Travers solo in 61.5 hour and then he cut it even to 45 hours, the track is 240km long, not to mention the elevation, but it’s around 2500-3000m AMSL :D a solid master. Not to mention Pierre and a bunch of other ultra-various-pain-and-exhaustion seeking creatures, whose names I just can’t remember. When I’m introducing myself, I say that I come from a country no one knows and I’m scared of everything here and I’m lost because the sun at my place goes the other way round. All of them laugh and straight away we are fiends. I feel like with my best buddies.

Than we have various briefings ‘bout the track, previous years, supplies and the country itself. What I found particularly interesting … and I didn’t know, was that the Drakensberg are one of the few places, specifically one of 3.8% of the planet’s surface, that haven’t been touched by man… and I was roaming around this place (but I already wrote about this in the previous article). You can find here every possible and impossible kind of protected animals and beasts. After the dinner (finally I was able to stuff myself, sorry to say it like this, we had smorgasbord and loads of vegetables… well my stomach felt that a period of starving is about to come) and I can go to sleep.
I’m awake already at half past five because the evening before I didn’t know how to divide the little supply I have into carts that will be placed on selected turning points (i.e. 2, 3, 4, 6, 9). It’s a tough decision as I have no idea how to divide it, where I’ll be able to come on the individual days (as the weather looks shitty). The more I take the more safe I will be, but on the other hand, slower, and vice versa. Less food, no tent and so on… I can be lighter and reach it farther and faster. Well, it’s difficult to reckon. The individual turning points are approx. 40km from each other, what is quite a decent amount of kilometres, when you have to walk. What’s more, there are two carts, and are placed on different turning points, so when I have my tent brought to let’s day 2nd turning point and I will be able to fly farther, I can pick it up in the 4th or 6th earliest. Hm… pretty chaotic as it is very easy to miss it. Well, never mind, as this makes the X-berg contest interesting and adventurous as hell. Self-support and nice and wild places between the turning points, which are mostly some kind of hotels.
So I divide it into lighter and heavier (overnight) equipment. Whether this decision was right and I will make it to those points, only Dragons know.
At seven we get down to business! I’m running for the start picture, also the ultra-runners and bikers are launching. PG guys with their bags on their backs start lightly at walking pace, without any rush. So I wait for them. I have decided… that tactics is too strong word, but I say to myself that I haven’t the foggiest idea about the weather, trails, turning points or shortcuts. I will stick, tooth and nail, with Pierre (if my tea-like body allows me to do so) and when I find my feet in this place, let’s say the second, third day I scram! :D

Andrew geared up and all we can see behind him is dust…. He runs really swiftly, and I think to myself that I won’t overtake him even in my wildest dream.
To keep with the group made sense, soon enough we turn it to the ridge through a very nice trail and we stick with the runners, all of them, but Andrew, spare their energy for later. He has more than enough energy, as he is already somewhere in the distance. On the ridge it’s blowing from not a bad direction, maybe it would be possible to soar a bit, now at 9 in the morning. So I unpack my Avaxiáš in the grass and rocks, pull the A lines a bit and it joyfully jumps over my head. And I’m there, in the kingdom of heaven, a place where I try to challenge the gravitation.

It’s OK next to the hill, but I can’t make more than 1km as there is a valley in my way and a not well oriented slope. The others fly behind be and land at almost the same spot. I pack the wing like a greased lightning, and march again at full steam up the hill that allows me to break away again. Indeed, it started to blow like from hell, I reckon 10ms a bit along the ridge. Maybe that’s the reason why the others from the PG group give up and walk. But not me! When I untwist the lines, start up and fly, indeed slowly, yet I manage to catch up with others and spare my legs for later, however not the nerves, since there are pretty many kilometres ahead of me.
I fly over the other PGs sticking together as a group, I’m probably half a kilometre ahead, and by the time they reach me I pack my things and join them. The runners have already fled in all directions ahead of us, we meet some bikers after ten on the first turning point, they’re carrying the bikes on their shoulders and making the track shorter. This is what makes this contest interesting, which route you choose, which way you go. Is it better to do fewer kilometres but higher elevation? Or some kind of shortcut through the bushes, river or high grass? And eventually, will you make the way to the finish?

The wind is blowing like hell, though, but nothing that cannot be managed, I think, but no, the others continue with the wings packed on their backs, so I follow. As my plan isn’t to go on my own, it wouldn’t make any sense to get separated that soon, not even in the first tenth of the track. We are toiling up on foot in the heat, wind and indeed, we are walking at a pretty fast pace. We even spot the ultra-runners ahead of us, even though they have only a tiny back pack with some food and a litre of water (unlike us, me for example 10kg) and we are reaching them. We passed maybe 20km now, from which I soared maybe 2. We, together with Pierre, with whom I’m sticking tooth and nail, are approaching the second turning point. As there’s a hotel nearby and I’ve had some experience with the service and food delivery around here, I start trotting to overrun the others and manage to order the food sooner than them. Pierre is wondering how it is even possible that I have so much energy left. Easy, it’s not even 30km that we have passed. I have a slight feeling that the winter training was worthwhile :D Indeed, my legs hurt, but it’s enough to sit down for half an hour, ease the aching joints and let’s move further, or?!

At the hotel we order things which will be ready the fastest, meanwhile I drink like a fish (water of course), I go and smear my quads and kneed with ICO-CO gel, what is actually an ordinary horse chestnut cream, cooling, the only difference is that it is purple instead of green and we got it in the package for competitors. So I’m as happy as a sandboy because I left that mine at home. At home I use it often as it’s really awesome, just don’t overdo it… like me now. I smeared myself so much that even though it’s 30 degrees outside I’m shivering like a leaf, and my teeth are chattering like jackhammer, BUT, I finish my meal, grab by backpack and I feel like running. It’s such a great feeling… there it goes, I have new legs!
It’s still more than 8km to the second turning point; fortunately it’s a pretty nice trail, along the contour line. A huge rock, called Sentinel, is towering above our heads. I would go faster, but I’m sticking with Pierre, there are still 150km ahead of us… and therefore again some ultra-runners are overtaking us.

The wind is getting weaker; at last, my moment has come. Although it’s getting stronger again and it starts to be 10ms, maybe even more, I’m prepared, no time for fear. I cut to the chase. I pull the As, Avaxiáš goes upwards and backwards in a second, I run underneath it, something like 8m backwards (with one eye I’m watching the barbed wire that is only 5 meters away, I can put it down now, otherwise the wing would be shredded), I jump into the harness and full speed bar. Maurer Harrier take off :D

A turn of around 30° and I fly along the ridge, in two minutes I pass all the runners and also some bikers, I feel their eyes on me… I’m focused only on my Avaxiáš as there are many ridges here that create lees, so it’s necessary to steer it a bit. I reach the turning point, I’m thinking how to land here in 10ms wind to take some supplies… well, impossible, I need to take the advantage of good timing and not to care about the needs…  it’s necessary to fly, somehow I’ll survive without food. I already see Pierre, who tore few lines at the take off :D

Kind of weaker thermal grasps me and after a while, I have a warm fuzzy that it isn’t a climb any more… but a wave. Never mind, time to upgrade the skills :D I climb to 3800m, height like hell, I´m almost 2km above the hills, above those beautifully shaped Dragons! On the right I can see rocks, cliffs that make the border with Lesotho. Like a Martian land, no trees or bushes, only rocks and a bit of grass, not a single human being. Indeed, truly utmost beautiful air cruise experience, intensified by the fact that during the last few days I was dreaming and hoping that the weather will get better and I can finally fly.

I’m waken up by a pretty strong lee, it blows from the cliffs 1000m high, and it’s SW J Pierre is behind me and I see that he has to deal with some collapses. I’m not bored either but it isn’t anything I couldn’t manage. Gradually the lee drowns me lower and lower, I’m forced to stick to the tiny hills but I’m able to climb.

I fly together with Pierre, and think that it carries us away from the turning point… wrong direction. The next hill disappoints me a bit, ‘cause as I said that I’m a bit confused by the directions here, and it’s a ridge where on both sides the wind blows along, I’ve chosen a wrong one so I have to land. Grr. Pitty, however nothing is lost.

I pack the things in a sec, and as I’m below 2000m, I really run and even climb a sort of crack, maybe a 3 :D I want to get to the rock, from where I can take off again. It’s possible since I see Pierre flying maybe 10km ahead of me.
I jump into the harness and fly. The slope is OK, it holds me, but no thermals, it’s inversion… gradually I soar as much as possible and join a wave. I’ve never thought that flying in Condor could be of any use, but now I’m glad. I climb to maybe 2300m, it won’t give more and fly against the wind straight to the third turning point. My supplies should be there, the better ones, tent, sleeping bag and dried food. It’s also quite late. The wing doesn’t let me down,the soar was kind of 10km and against the wind! My legs could rest as well, so they feel like brand new and I suppose that we are pretty ahead of the others.

(Each of us, I mean the means of transport, have their benefits, as well as drawbacks. The bikers are kings of the flat lands, hills are a problem for them. The runners are rulers in the hills, whatever the weather is like (wind, overcast, night), and me as a “winger”, wherever I’m on ground I’m supposed to fall behind… Until I reach the sky, then, guys, get scared! A valley, that takes hours to get over in blood and sweat, for the most earthlings, I can have it in 10-15 minutes. All I need is to climb a hill and have favourable weather!)

I want to land in bushland that is not very dense, or on some kind of field. I don’t want to land on a road, it’s red and dusty, and that won’t be good. I pick out something so beautiful and green, it looks like a meadow from 100m, quite dense but the grass doesn’t seem very high. I realise that I was wrong only when I come closer and I land in 2m high, not very dense thing… but it’s not grass! Helluva thistles are sticking into my jacket, hood, face… moments like this make my blood boil and my mouth is shouting and swearing, damn it! Bloody thistles and bushes!
I continue cursing and it increases gradually; it’s a response of a sharp mind taking inspiration from simple life, like a Rom, with his bare and dirty hand, taking bread rolls and meat spread from a shelf for a lower price because they are after their “best-before date”, unwanted and rejected by the society which is disgusted by the food of the working class.

I run, swearing in my language, through the vegetation, taller than me, carrying the wing above my head to spare it, at least… finally I reach the road (yes, the dusty with red soil) and put my poor little Avaxiáš on it, still continuing to curse in one breath.
I pack everything in less than no time, cleaning my stuff of and spitting out the seeds and curses. The locals are by me in a minute and at first, they ask for money (I left my whole budget in the hands of Germany) then some sweets (I overflew the turning point, I myself don’t have almost anything to eat) so they will remember me… well, I tell them, you will remember me for sure, anyway, I fell from the sky! (at the briefing we were told not to give them anything as they are lazy)
I check the map, it’s 4km to the next turning point, it’s stashed somewhere behind the hill. I haven’t eaten for a pretty long time, so the time has come… for a nuclear bomb (energivit tablets with grape sugar). I take one and I’m like an arrow, run all the time as my mosquito-like legs took some rest during the flight and the gel worked as it should. Wow, what a feeling… it’s getting darker. As I’m approaching the turning point I lose the track of Pierre’s one way trails (maybe he’s not come back yet), so first I end up in a stream then in some blackberry bushes, where I literary crawl on the ground under the twigs and finally in high grass and steep hill. I reach the exact middle of the turning point… and nothing, a meadow without bushes, dark as pitch, no road, no trail, no supplies. It’s not the last time that I ease my soul with juicy and pure swearwords. Otherwise I’m not so vicious but as I’m without food in a strange country, it’s dark… sometimes you have to unwind.

I take out my notes from the briefing, finding out that the supplies are at some kind of cultural centre Mweni, where the hell is that? My map is not that detailed… so I turn back and have two options – one is to go back where I landed, try to find someone normal and ask where it is, maybe I will be lucky enough to find Pierre, who flew a nice hour ahead of me or if I don’t meet anyone I will continue to the next turning point, I have some more sugar tablets, I can sleep in the wing and, anyway a single day during a march without food in the wilderness… it can’t stop me now.

I’m running back and whistling for the case Pierre is somewhere around here. It’s night, strange noises, jackals howling, monkeys screaming and God-knows-what-other-beasts doing… once it seemed that I heard a whistle, too… sure I lost the original trail, I’m on another one but in the same direction… I want to run to a ford and there to blow it across the river… the whistling seems to be like an animal but when I hear it for the third time… I turn to the ford earlier and run down from the trail… in the dark I see no eyes only a kind of reflex stripe … and, crap… It’s Pierre! What a gathering?! He overflew the supply point, too, so he has no headlight, his phone is dead (I took my headlight, as if I knew, but have a heavier bag, my phone works but has no signal like almost everywhere) and he got lost in the dark, as well, but we found each other… ha-ha! We shake hands and walk together… I have light, Pierre knows where the supplies are… awesome! We make those evening 8km and happy in the camp I cook the dried food, unpacking my tent and sleeping back looking forward to get some sleep. Full stomach and fluffy bed… wonderful! In the evening the first bikers and Andrew reach the camp, but all of them miss the third bloody turning point. So we are ahead 8km, not bad. Tomorrow I will stick with Pierre while walking, too, the forecasts says it will be blowing like hell, so probably we won’t be able to fly.


The rules say that every day from 7pm to 7am we can have 6 hours of rest. At 10 we went to sleep, so we wake up at half past three, dark as pitch but I can’t wait for the next adventure!
Until I pack my things and eat something half an hour is gone, we can rush. It can’t be hardly described by words how the wind is blowing, so I will use numbers, at ground I reckon gusts something like 13-15ms… no thermals, two hours before the sunrise in a wide valley. Good Lord!
We walk up the first planes and the feeling from the view my eyes are feasting on is quite complex. Just imagine monumental walls of stone and rock illuminated by the redness of the rising sun, above that is the sky covered in cold and warm colours, and on the west like a silver disc hangs the moon while the east side is reigned by the other disc, warming and beautiful.  This breath-taking scenery and my pleasant feelings are overwhelming, but I feel also a bit tired.

Far-reaching grassy planes, and in the hazy distance towering lonesome table mountains… Holy cow… this is unbelievable.
We can be at probably 2000m; together we pass the saddleback and walk and walk across never ending valleys. We saw the local lynx running roguishly away. 
20km are over and here we have the first take off we were relying on… it’s in a perfect lee of those Drakensberg… maybe that’s the reason why it doesn’t blow here, however I know that real winds are lurking somewhere very close.

Until we unpack the stuff, it starts blowing from zero to 13ms, then again nothing and in three minutes again, like from the Dragon’s ass, or cloaca!
Wretched, we go back downwards, what we have carried up the hill has to be carried down the hill… we will find a better lee, where it will be OK for the take off at least… and then… damn it, I will fight. We find such a place half a kilometre farther along the track. The view of the clouds flying like a true traveller’s shit into the toilet, with lenticulars and one or two meters of wind on the meadow… that will be hell of a flight.

Pierre takes off, then me and it starts in 10 seconds. I’m turned to the South, however fly almost eastwards, like a crab. Mostly I’m falling to the ground, more than I wish, I’m flying towards the turning point and then it comes, a decent 5m blast, so called Obelix’s kick to a place where the back loses its good name (in other words ass), I climb and climb… great. Against a strong wind in something like 2500m I’m heading to the turning point… huh, how easy and, what’s more, energy saving is to fly at a contest instead of walking, just fly! 

Pierre is landing, taking some supplies from the turning point 4, but I think that when I’m finally in the air, I won’t risk and try to land, I will fly as much as possible and enough! The moment, when I’ve found my feet, has come; it’s time to go on my own. I fly over to the next ridge or flat hill, climb to 2500 and there it comes. I got to a lee or non-professionally said to falling winds from those Drakensberg. Imagine a waterfall, a place where water hits water, where the whirlpools are so strong that there’s no chance you will swim out of it… yes, exactly at that kind of point am I now but instead of water there’s air and I’m not swimming but falling. I haven’t experienced such a rock; really, I’ve been in storms, strong lees, flying bacwards… I’ve also been trapped in the clouds that were lower than the hills… but this… this was really strong. I fall 8ms on average, Avaxiáš is flying around me and I’m feasting my eyes on that piece of fabric from angles I had no idea of seeing them. But it doesn’t collapse, as I’m in the driving seat and I manage to prevent everything. The Earth is approaching, 200m, 100m and I’ve caught myself thinking of using the reserve… but why? I’m falling 8 now, plus 6, that will be 14… it looks like pretty broken shanks… I fight, try it…!

And it worked!
Finally, after ultra-tough correcting of Avax in really terrible lees, just for illustration, 100m above the ground at the level of the hill but in the lee, I have 75km/h groundspeed. I took the fourth and fifth turning point in the air, but I can’t make the sixths one, so called Monks Cowl, it’s too much against the wind. Happy as a clam I’m landing next to the herd of wildebeests J I pack my things and in 35°C I’m running, I’m ahead of the game, I know I’m first! But I have a huge problem, the cart isn’t at the turning point yet, they can’t catch up with me… 35km in the air are something like 80km on the roads around the hills. So I’m waiting for the car while studying the map, having bath and so on. When the car arrives, I change my things as tomorrow it’s supposed to be much colder, the forecast says it’s going to snow in the mountains, and I take more food for the night, too. I’m taking to my heels and the backpack on the shoulders. I’m dosed with adrenaline, for this I spared my energy, I managed to break so I have to use it properly. At full blast!

The seventh turning points is stashed in the valley, I have to wade through the river six times, just to know that if the conditions were flyable it would be like 5km in the air, well, never mind. The heat is immense, I have to water my hair in the streams… it’s nice and cooling. I run as much and fast as possible…on my way, however, there are some issues, for instance: a dead half-eaten cow next to the stream from where I took water, so I poured it away and since I couldn’t get some more from a higher place I was running the remaining two hours without water and thirsty. Then I lost the trail, had to wade for a kilometre through bushes, scratched like hell… I just laugh on the helplessness… I just need to endure. After that a steep hill, where even an ice axe could help; it continues into a canyon with a river, around rocks like hell… so I wade through the grass spitting out filthy words. After that, the same, but this time, up the hill. When I finally make it out of that canyon, I’m squeezed like an average Slovak freelancer from money.

Those rocks have robbed me of much energy. Never mind. Sun is setting and the tenth turning point is still about 20km far. I wanted to sleep there, will see how I will make it… I have to go on. I’m running, frightening the cows grazing all around… When I finally have phone signal, the organiser calls me that I don’t have to rush that I still have six hours to reach the turning point, since they haven’t managed to reach the point with the supplies (I’m three turning points ahead of the next competitor and they’re sending the car to catch up with me, they’ll find me with the live tracking, Awesome!). Though the jackals are howling all around, the fire is set and warm and cosy tent and sleeping bag comfort me… it’s nice to sleep like this and I even don’t mind getting up at half past four.


When my watch shows 5, I’m already on my way along the asphalt road across a village with my backpack on my shoulders, relaxed, stuffed and full of enthusiasm thinking of the fact that it ends today. Up to now the sky is full of stars and even though the forecast was shitty during the last days, regarding the weather, today it’s supposed to rain, but really rain, what’s more, it will be bloody cold, back in the mountains it will be also snowing… sorry, but snow, here, in Africa?! Are you kidding?!

Today I have to cross three ridges and something like 50km, I hope in one, maybe two leapfrogs, but will see. I’m on the hill before the dawn; the clouds are falling on and even below the hill, I soar the hill, pack the wing and it rains, from 8am. Fortunately, I’m lucky enough and have a rain poncho from Zajo, at least my tiny body will stay dry… there’s no chance for my feet, though, I have only webbed trainers. Before nine I’m stuffing myself with food in a hotel that I came across, and since it’s smorgasbord, I managed to eat as much as possible. With my stomach full it’s easy to walk, it’s even that easy that I forget to navigate and get lost… after a while I turn around and it’s come, it’s raining cats and dogs, blowing helluva wind, and it’s cold. Today it will be the test of my morale.
The last but one turning point is on a meadow. Since the grass is wet like hell, I decide to do more kilometres and traverse but I will stay a bit drier, since the shortest distance doesn’t feature any cow or other trail and the grass is completely soaked from the rain.

I make it and go ahead, it’s cold. But at least the wind is blowing from behind me. I’m crossing the fields and meadows… and a wall like darkness from Mordor is after me, after 10 minutes it reaches me and after another 10 minutes everything is soaked. There’s a tough decision to make, I’ll either go along the trail, where the water is pouring and my shoes will be soaked or I’ll walk a bit away from it and my feet will be a bit drier but I will trample on cow, horse and whoever else digestive system end products (shits). I’m confused, what will be better?
At 10, I’m soaked completely from my knees downwards, what’s more, it’s not just water… yes, you’re right, shit, as I’ve chosen the drier but shittier trail. It’s more than clear, today – no flying.
The first ridge is ahead of me, as well as never ending meadows, wind blowing in my face and soaked feet… I’m traversing, and after one hour, I’d really like to put my backpack down, but there’s no place to do that and I have only one thermo shirt and Gore jacket, and if I stopped I would freeze in five minutes… the first person who ever froze in African bushland :D Even if I’m walking I’m quite cold, but I can handle that, my knees hurt. I’ve been on foot for 6 hours. I’m hungry, can’t stop, have no spare clothing, I couldn’t fit it in the backpack. I’m enjoying the drudgery. At least I will train my psyche, just walk and don’t stop, no way.
The village is down the hill, I see one of the support vehicles, and since it is the only vehicle far and near, it’s clear that some bikers are catching up with me! To be honest, I’m quite scared that they will be faster than me. I’m speeding up and it’s raining.
I cross the never ending village and at once the car I mentioned overtakes me; it’s covered with distinct orange stickers, and it’s clear, it’s THEM! They are after me!
But as soon as they jump out of the car they tell me that they’re following me because they’ve given up, it’s cold and raining, mud and no one is faster than me. Oh my Lord, that’s a load off my mind! They give me some food, warm tea to drink and I can sit down… gee, sit down… what a relief! I’ve already gone through crisis and thought that I wouldn’t make it today. But I start running as reborn. I’m enjoying the aches and pains, it’s boiling inside me and there comes the moment when I have to start working with my head, with my thoughts. To get into so called run(ber)serkr. When it sends shivers down my spine and I feel indestructible and unbeatable. YES! That’s it! I’m running up the last ridge like a surface-to-surface missile, chasing some wild horses.
One hour is gone before I reach the last turning point. Wet as a drowned rat, my shoes are squelching. It would be nice to fly down the hill, but what can I do when I’m in a cloud? It’s last 11 km to the finish, I thought it would be as easy as a pie...ha-ha, I was wrong. A true Ragnarok.
You know, it’s such barren soil here that as soon as it rains, at first nothing, but then it gets so drenched that it’s like a shit. The dusty, now shitty, road is worse than a German trench at Verdun. Every step is half a slip backwards, half a kilo of mud on both feet… great. I thought I couldn’t any more, but now I can’t twice that much… but as Zátopek said: when you can’t any more, SPEED UP! The finish is approaching, Ďuro! GO, GO, GO! When it’s the last 3km to the finish I’m running. I can’t feel my legs, shoulders are aching because of the backpack, I’m hungry and thirsty, but I love it… little by little I’m falling into trance that I look for in all long-lasting trips and runs… and again, I quote Zátopek (even though it’s said that it wasn’t him who said it) “If you want to win, do 100m run, if you want to experience something, run a marathon!”
I ford the stream, run through the forest, it’s slippery… finally I have to run between two fences… barbed one, like a blade on the right and on the left electric one. Awesome… I’m on my last legs, I’m tired after 13 hours of marching, it’s muddy and I can choose, when I slump I can choose whether I get a shock or will be cut in pieces… Hell, yes!
The last kilometre has come, I’m running and feel explosion of energy like never before. Woo-hoo I want to scream and shout… Pierre joins me (he gave up) in a car and is following me. I’m rushing into the camp and my heartbeat is somewhere, I can’t even say where… aaand the home straight, absolute sprint with a Huron roar!!
I notice a shadow flashing by behind a bush, but as my field of vision is narrowed due to high heartbeats I don’t see it. When I recall it, the finish was the most emotional experience in the whole contest. After all the suffering, hunger, cold and exhaustion… it’s like Valhalla and the reward is even sweeter I can imagine.

A bunch of people are applauding, straight away they congratulate me, enjoying it with me and pouring alcohol into me, asking about everything… I’m lying peacefully, soaked on even more soaked grass. A cocktail of endorphins and being aware that I made it, me, long-haired but skinny Ďurifuk from a country on the other side of the world, who was almost refused to enter this country, I wiped the floor with all the big names because luck is with those who are prepared and courageous. I still can’t believe that… I hardly know it here, I was scared like hell, I didn’t have enough supplies, nothing… and anyway!!


I won a nickname KJ the Machine because as I learn later, that shadow I noticed was Andrew Porter (who gave up the day before, too because of the heat and, I hear, my lead) ‘cause they wanted to put my back up that he overtook me in the home straight. But I oversprinted him even with my backpack and after 55 kilometres… in my run(ber)serkr. I hear, he had no chance :D
A warm bath makes me feel a bit better, at the same time I’m counting my body damage; the only thing is that my feet are swollen like hell, they were 10 hours in complete wetness; they burn and are one size larger, I can’t even put my shoes on afterwards.
In the evening we have a real booze party… I don’t know where I found the strength for that but I feel good. Of course, not too much drinking, but I’m having fun with this bunch of guys, pain and tiredness lovers… they ask a lot about Slovakia and Europe… almost all night long.
The day after I’m recovering and we’re waiting for the guys who could make it before the deadline, which is at 4pm, the two bikers.

In the evening we sit at the bonfire, discuss what suffering we survived. The winners are declared, and please do not think I’m boasting… I’m the overall winner; it means that I can heft really superb Dragon-defeater floating trophy, on which there will be a tag with my name and time (I’m the first PG pilot ever who has achieved overall victory in four years) and one trophy of my own with a gold Dragon, which I take home with me. Wow, that was something! The Drakensberg defeated! I can go home!! VENI VICI VOLANTIS (I came, I saw, I flew)

P.S. I wrote really much, but I experienced much more than that, so, please forgive me. I know, it’s like pancakes with cream, we all know that plain pancakes are not attractive for anyone… but I’m really glad if you finished the reading till the end, it was really quite a job to write all the notes into my notepad in Africa, as well as here at home, decent two days.
Thanks to Zajo for the material, to Gradient for the wing and to Skybeam for the GPS!!
Altogether I walked maybe 130-150km during the contest and flew probably 60… I don’t feel like counting it in more detail J
For more info about the concept and whole race, visit

back home...

Thanks for translation, Zuzana!

sobota 21. mája 2016

Bornes to Fly ´16 3/3

Posledný pretekový deň začína. Pár najväčších borcov je v cieli od včerajšieho obeda, podarilo sa im uletieť cca 50-60km. Ako to dokázali, stále ešte neviem pochopiť, mám to tu málo nalietané. Vykračujem si ráno hore brehom strmým, na štart a zároveň otočný bod.
Celý krásny výšľap nerozmýšľam nad ničím iným, ako nad tým čo zrobím, to sa dalo čakať. Som bezradný, alebo skôr nerozhodný, bojím sa že sa urobím zle. Kopček s otočákom je pomerne malý smerom na JV, zato zo S je slušne strmý. V predpovedi kreslilo SZ vetrík o sile 3-5ms. Ale to bolo včera, potom sme už nemali signál :( bodaj ho!

Rozhodnem sa po ťuknutí kružnice vyškriabať na iný hrebeň, ktorý je neďaleko, príde mi, že preskok vzduchom naň z otočáku by mohol byť trošku problém a týmto štýlom tomu predídem.
 V noci mrzlo, všade na zatienených stráňach  je srieň. Vymocujem sa do sedla a rozhodujem sa či tam či kam. Severné steny sú kolmice, tak 300m vysoké, južné sú peknými svahmi ale čer to ber, fúka ale dole kopcom a krása južných svahov sa pominie pri bližšej obhliadke, je tu mnoho ostrých vápencových skál, takzvaných šnúrodrápov, sa tvária že nič a keď sa už ulakomím na štart, dzig a šmyk, tu sa šnúra zadrapne a je po paráde. Keď vystúpim na kopec Roche Parnal vyzerá to pre mňa hodne zaujímavo, štart na juh nemožný, na sever nemožný, ale ako sa poznám, budem to skúšať dovtedy dokým sa buď nezrichtujem alebo neodštartujem, prekierna situácia. Pešo proste nepôjdem!
Najprv skúsim do závetria, nepodarí sa. Potom skúsim zo snehového poľa končiaceho sa zrázom s vetrom úplne po kose, skoro som sa zdzigal dolu. Tadeto to nepôjde ale graduje to :)

Posledná možnosť je z vrcholu, neviem či sa mi podarí priblížiť Vám svoj pocit z toho štartu, ale skúsim: Miesto na padák má 2 metre šírku, ľavica je spomínané šmykľavé snehové pole, potom skaly kolmé. Pravica nie je o nič lepšia, Tam je rovno pár stometrový skalný útes...vietor mi síce fúka akurátne, teda asi 3ms  ale mám naozaj jeden pokus, ak to nedám na tutovku, môžem si vybrať pod ktorým svahom budem krásne rozotretý na skalách, ako paštéta na vatových rožkoch z TESCO natieraná členom robotníckej triedy v nepozornosti počas prestávky na lešení. Bojím sa riadne.
Klepúce sa kolienka môžu urobiť presne jeden krok, tak klepúcimi rúčkami zatiahnem áčka, Avax, ktorý ležal v 2m podkovičke, vystrelí nahor, v momente mám skontrolované šnúry bo adrenalín zrýchľuje riadne a míňam ten jediný krok. Do diabla! To bol okamih keď som sa odlepil od zeme...naozaj husťárna. (mrzí ma to, že som nemal kameru, zostala ráno v zhone vo vozataji, nuž musel som to vlastnými slovami popísať)

Hneď mám stupák, to je paráda, ale kalí ju viac ako akné násťročnú tvár, krucinálmotyka zamotaná sedačka. Ktorási šnúra sa mi prevliekla cez kokún a nemôžem do neho nastúpiť, visím ako Spartakovi gladiátori popri Via Appia. Mám ale pol metrový stupáčik a nedám si ho vziať, nazbieram 100m a rozmotávam sa, v kŕčoch nadávajúc, kľajúc na svoju hlúposť zvíjam sa ako pristúpená dážďovka. Stálo ma to všetkú výšku nad kopec a teraz popravde mierim rovno naň.

Pristávam radšej v sedle hneď vedľa, zase maturujem ako odštartovať. Po skalách sa nedá, po snehu mi padák šmýka nadol. Hrom do toho. Po hodine sa mi to podarí nakoniec so šťastím. Smažím po svahu a pritáčam slabšie stúpania zo severných stien. Driftujeme spolu s ďalšími dvoma po hrebeni smerom na Annecy. Normálne som predbehol chalanov v aute o cca 15minút do cieľa. Sláva, vyšlo to aj keď som sa nechal oviať asi 10timi ľudmi úplne zbytočne. Nuž...
Počil som so v mnohom, pochytil fígle a dostal poriadnu priúčku. Nohy ma síce nebolia ale kolená áno, pred odchodom som prechladol na tandeme. Kubo mal zlomenú nohu, nemali sme signál a net a mohlo to byť aj horšie..ale doviali sme to do cieľa na 16. mieste z 39 tímov.
 Na záver máme veľmi plodný diškurz s Maurerom, dokonca sa mi podpíše aj na Avaxiáša! :)

Ďakujem Zajovi, Gradientu a skybeanu za podporu...teraz idem znova ponocovať nad prácou...keď to odovzdám, vyfrčím ako prd z gatí a bude to niekam ďaleko!!! A dlho nič nenapíšem, lebo som duševne vydedený, nevládzem....

foto by Jakub Šipoš

štvrtok 19. mája 2016

Bornes to Fly´16 2/3

Keď sa ráno druhého dňa zobudím, začínam byť nervózny, hodinu pred rozbehom do ďalších kilometrov som viac nerozhodný, sťa by Zradoslav pred voľbami, že na ktorú stranu sa pridám, či čím skôr do hôr, alebo bežať dolinou za Chríglom a pochytiť nejaké fígle od neho.
 Naozaj neviem pretože vrcholy sú v mrakoch zo včerajšieho dažďa, to na priskoré lietanie z vysokých grúňov nebude. Anciáša.

Utekám teda dole briežkom, ťažko nabité metre zo včerajšieho večera strácam, naháňam sa s chlapíkom čo spal v karavane vedľa nás. Sledujeme hlavnú cestu a postupne sa zbiehame asi štyria. Koniec doliny umožnuje nejaký ten žabí skok aj takto ráno, po cca 12 kilometroch. Pätnásť minút pred nami vidíme ako štartuje Orol. Chytro-chytro rozbaľujeme inštrumenty aj my, aby nám príliš z dohľadu neuletel.

Štart vo vysokej a mokrej tráve nie je labúžo ale letím. Nohy oddychujú, kilometre ubúdajú, škoda len, že na riadičke mám uzlík, nechce mi to letieť normálne rovno. Pristávam na kruháči, pomedzi káble a stĺpy, bisťu. Keď tak rozmýšľam, mohol som radšej letieť viacej stredom doliny, možno by ma zobralo o málinko ďalej po vetre. Aj tá cesta ktorou idem, nie je úplne ideálna. Nuž ale učím sa na vlastných chybách. Slnka stále nikde, počasie zatiaľ nevyzerá, ale ono sa to časom popraví.

Hore kopcom šliapem, chalani ma naháňajú vo vozataji tak ako adventureri páčiky na fb.  Napijem sa, najem sa a idem zase ďalej. Ono, rád by som bol, keby tieto vety boli kvetnatejšie, ale na pretekoch mávam problém. Pracujem s hlavou a vypínam ju, najmä na chodenie, prípadné behanie a potom si nič z toho nepamätám....a práve žiadne veselé detaily, žiadne slovné hračky ani vtípky.

Sedím tu doma pred počítačom a rozmýšľam, dumám viac ako ruská Duma a nič z toho. Suchý, nezáživný text :/ Ani som žiadnu poriadnu knihu už dlhší čas nečítal, jednoducho nestíham (to Nepál, to Afrika, to hento, to tamto) Takže ma to, milí moji počítači (keďže čítate), veľmi mrzí ale jouky raz dôjdu a písať tak, aby z toho bola sranda, nie je žiadna sranda!

Napríklad mi vôbec neprišlo že som pred prvým letom prešiel 12km ale tak 5 :D proste sa mi to zlieva. Pravá, ľavá, pravá, ľavá a tak to ukračuje, ubieha.

Ako si tak vykračujem svižným krokom na otočný bod číslo 3, Plaine Juix, mraky sa postupne, nenápadne zdvíhajú, takže pôjde aspoň zletieť. Paráda. Akurát prichádzam a ktosi z prvej grupy už štartuje, preto neváham a chytro chcem skočiť do toho za nimi, nech mi zase neujdú.
Presvahujem nejakých osem kilometrov popod mraky, sledujem po zemi roztrúsených pretekárov ktorý ešte nedošli na štart. Pritáčam slabé stúpania, držím výšku a jastrím blyšťákmi po prvých. Nakoniec vyľondujem asi 50m od chlapíka, nejakého maurerovho kamoša, akurát sa zbalím a vidím ho na ceste, tak sa pridám a spolu debatujeme čo ďalej. Maurer nám uchodí asi o pol hodinu ale evidentne sa rozbehol. Vidíme ho štartovať keď sme pod kopcom.To je jeho taktika "v správny čas na správnom mieste"

Tentoraz potreboval byť na kopci pri TP4 o deviatej, preto sa hnal do kopca ako Tatár po Uhorsku. Fígľom bolo letieť cez najufúkanejšie miesto čím najskôr. Preto je to Fígler (Chrigel) Maurer!
Keď štartujem ja, už fučí údolka ako z mamutí prdele, nepustí ma to vpred viac ako 8km. Je síce neskutočne tematický, totiž oproti MT. Blancu si štartovať, to je frajerina.

 Podarí sa mi ako ostatným predomnou, trafiť ten vetrisko a jednoducho zhniť ako hruška až dole. Vyberiem si pažiť ako svet, asi 700m má, prespeedujem čo to dá ale ako sa blížim k zemi, vidím mlátiť stromy ako keby boli z papiera, no, málo asi neduje. Klesám a stojím zároveň na mieste, potom už len klesám a cúvam, Skydrop píše svieže cifry, že 10km/h vzad a je to cítiť. Pristávačka mi ujde pod nohami, za mnou diaľnica, vysokánske napätie a rady stromov, fúha, to bude žúžo.

Ailos náš, čo komanduješ nebesiam, prestaň viať! Avax skočí vpred, vzad ale podarí sa mi ho ukočírovať, bordel robia vysoké stromy a násyp diaľnice. Zem sa blíži, ešte stále som vo výške, z ktorej sa môžem krásne zlámať. Ale keďže padák mi dáva vždy včas vedieť, mám šancu a tak pristávam len s poriadne vysokým tepom a mäkko. Fú!

Zbalím sa a utekám...musím sa predrať dolinou po vlastných čongáľoch (nohách) a prípadne ešte stihnúť odštartovať znovu. Z tejto časti si nič nepamätám, proste som iba utekal, koľko sa dalo, proti tomu vetrisku.
Keď obídem hlavný hrebeň Aravis, začnem sa mordovať nahor, treba mi nájsť štart. Až teraz si uvedomujem, že paličky som voľakde zapatrošil. S hátyžákom vytrepať sa 700m prevýšenia a ešte bez jedinej bakule (paličky) nie je žiadna sranda. Zaúraduje náhoda, nájdem jednu starú, lyžiarsku, zapichnutú v lístí, druhú si ulomím len tak, z nejakej kriačiny...výbava ako svet keď mám hlavu dubovú a strácam veci, tak mi treba.

V dedinke na kopci nie je žiadna vhodná lúčina, chlapci z podporného vozidla mi hovoria že ešte 300m nahor je lyžiarsky vlek a z tade to pôjde...hoplá, takže zo 700m je hneď tisíc prevýška. Nevadí, s hlavou v oblakoch ženiem sa, chytro, bleskovo do vzduchu, nech to všetko úplne nestratím.
Fúka po kose, v strede už aj tak nie veľmi širokej zjazdovky kraľuje vlek a drôty, zavadzajú stromy a kriaky. He, to zase bude.

Odpálim to ale celkom vo vhodnom, nie príliš silnom intervale a letím, stúpam nahor. Ach teraz to len vymyslieť nejako s rozumom a čo najďalej doletieť. Naberám do 2300m, potom si to namierim na predný hrebeň z ktorého mám väčšiu šancu sa prebojovať neskôr na otočák.
Vravím si jupí, zošľapnem speeda, letím 45-50km/h, jo krása! Len aby to na budíkoch vydržalo čo najdlhšie ale ako sa blížim k hrebeňu tam vpredu, dopredná rýchlosť padá a padám aj ja ako guľa k zemi. Sakra!

 Pretlačiť sa mi podarí, nalepím sa na svah a pokúšam...má tak 70-80°, samé skaly, to by mohlo krásne držať ale...nedrží. Fučí 8 metrov po kose, postávam, padám...včas sa stihnem otočiť a vrátiť sa na štart, budem musieť ísť inak, ale popravde nedávam tomu žiadnu nádej, že napríklad doletím na posledný otočák ešte dnes. Po pár kilometroch druhou verziou, musím preskočiť nazad na hrebeň, ktorý ma predtým nepustil, ako to spravím, netuším, fučí pekelne a dostupy sú mizerné. Pučím plný a prebijem sa na náveternú stranu ale dolina je úzka a zalesnená, postávam, padám dosť rýchlo k matičke zemi. Dole do doliny nedoletím, musím sadať na lúčine v lese po vetre, do protikopca a keď vidím, ako mláti stromkami ako zápalkami, nie je mi všetko jedno. To bude treba dobre premyslieť. Zem sa blíži, dostávam sa do slušného závetria za rebrom a Avaxiáš skáče kade-tade, ale kamarát, nesklamal ma! Parakotúľ, tuším dvojitý a je to. Fúúú.

Zbalím v návale adrenalínu a utekám dole, okolo krúži vrtuľník, tak píšem SMS do HQ že som OK. Zbehnem do doliny, stretnem sa s chalanmi a bežím...bežím po asfalte s batohom zase slušných pár kilometrov. Tesne pred večernou stopkou zastanem v cca 800m, v ihličnatom lese, za chrbtom mám vysoké a strmé vápencové obludy, toť hradiská nebotyčné, červeňou večerných zôr farbené.
Rozbalíme spanie a hneď som ako drevo...nehybný.
Prvý borci sú už v cieli, o Fíglerovi nehovoriac, mňa čaká na zajtra ešte 25km do cieľa, neviem čo urobím, či bude lepšie počkať na podmienky a doletieť, alebo utekať od rána a skákať z napíšem v poslednej tretine...teraz je čas na ponocovanie nad Bc.

TRACKLOG 60km nožmo, ostatok by očko letmo..14 a pol hodiny na nohách

foto by Jakub Šipoš