What is the goal? Is it winning the first place? Afflict your opponents with superiority over them?
Skyrunning is a fairly young sport, you could say – still in its infancy. For this reason, you can find all the necessary information on the Internet fairly easily. Numerous hiking and other outdoor clubs cover this topic on their websites, as well as some media articles. But this is not a generalized story of a beautiful and new sport, so I will not explain the rules, scoring, checkpoints and the like. You can find them yourselves. What is not so easy to find is the authentic, honest story of a participant of the Trekking League of Serbia and what he is going through during preparation and the race.
The author is Novak Ristanović, an active athlete and president of Starica Mountaineering Society.
What is skyrunning?
Skyrunning is a sport derived from mountaineering and it is still in its infancy in our country. The Trekking League of Serbia (TLS), of the Mountaineering Association of Serbia, and Skyrunning were founded in 2015. In TLS the trails are ten (small) to forty kilometres (big) with slopes up to 1700 meters. Skyrunning in its nine disciplines provides more space to participants on tracks from five to fifty kilometres with slopes, while in some disciplines slopes are greater than 33%.
Anyone who once climbed to a mountain top knows how much energy is needed to walk a designated trail of ten, fifteen or twenty kilometres. If the mileage is multiplied by two, three or four and instead of walking you apply other means of transport – running, you will get a whole new hiking experience. This is a climb in which every minute and every second on the chronograph push sky runners forward, to find their form and break their own boundaries. And limits are unknown until we meet them on the trail, sometimes inadequately marked.
Here comes the first test of mental and physical endurance. The most important thing is to return to the place where we last saw the trail markers and from there look for the right turn to continue the path, without lowering the spirit. At temperatures of forty Celsius it’s not pleasant at all. Especially if your water supplies in Bidon fall below the red line. The comfortable sofa, TV, beer and popcorn from which we escaped, at that moment seem like an oasis.
However, with the word “NO” coming from the left shoulder, we need to bring back a memory from the subconscious, why we are here and what we want to achieve. And then, with the help of a candy to raise sugar levels and spite, the Serbian number one morale boost, we move on. Since hiking trails are characterized by ups and downs, also in us occur ups and downs during the race. And the race is not only on the mountain, because the fighting experience we gain here is transferred to life. Life is nothing but one big fight, a big ultra-marathon race full of ups and downs.
Not sprint to live fast and die young. With every kilometre, we are closer to our goal, it is up to us to define it and bring it within reach. What is the goal? Is it winning the first place? Afflict your opponents with superiority over them? No! By analogue comparison, there will always be someone better than us and we will never be satisfied. So, we will always aspire for something higher and the whole race will pass, which is life itself.
Instead, the goal is to socialize and help another competitor on the track when we see the need. The goal is that within us there is not a drop of sweat or a step left to run – in football jargon we need to leave our “Heart on the field”. The goal is that days of preparation for the race, when you get tired from work, enter the sports equipment and “relax” at the top of your local hill, give result on the field. Although after the race all is pain, the feeling of satisfaction cannot be shown by any rank on the list or a diploma.
Participant of the Trekking League of Serbia and
President HK Starica