Racing on Elbrus - The Participants and Spectators View
For the first time this year we were unlucky and the weather today was bad. It was snowing all night on Elbrus and low clouds hung over the mountain since the very early morning. There was a thick fog from the “Barrels” to the top of Elbrus and it was in this fog the athletes had to run. The track on the lower part of the route wasn’t easy, but all these issues didn’t affect the positive mood of the people running skywards.
A very strong wind blew above the Pastukhov Rocks. And this is what broke the spirit of some participants who withdrew at this point.
Sergey, a spectator, commented: “To my mind, it wasn’t the weather for a competition. The wind blew with a speed of about 35 kilometers per hour above Pastukhov Rocks. The guys continued upwards were really desperate!”
And what do the desperate guys say?
Stanislav Nokhrin: “I just got into the racing regime. I’m just going and not thinking about anything. Does anything help me to go? And what can help me? As far as you’re trained, so you go.”
There were even more difficult weather conditions around the top, so the high-altitude referees decided to make a turning point on the "saddle", and move the finish line to the "Barrels". (There was a precedent for this in 2014. Then also, due to the thick fog and strong wind that blew from the top, the turning point was made at the beginning by the "oblique" shelf, near to 5200 meters, where the participants turned and ran back down to the "Barrels".)
This time the reversal point was on the "saddle" and some of the participants were upset by such a turn of events, since their goal was the top of Elbrus.
“I participated in the race today, but for me the race was not so important. The goal was to ascend to the top,” said one of the participants whom we met on the descent. “Unfortunately the weather didn’t allow me to make it. During acclimatization and training outings, when the weather was fine, I thought it was the normal weather and postponed my climb to the May, 7. But as it turned out, the sunny weather through last week is not a usual weather for Elbrus. But these are mountains, and you can’t oppose the weather”.
The problems with the weather, though, didn’t discourage him from the desire to return and climb the top of Elbrus: “Now I’ll come again next year! The festival itself is great, I really liked it!”
We hope he’ll really come again next year to the Red Fox Elbrus Race 2019 and will ascend to the top.
Most of the athletes, however, have already climbed the top of Elbrus in the previous days, while they were preparing for the start of a high-speed ascent, so the change in their distance did not upset them.
Alexander Chervyakov commented, “I’m in a very good mood. I have been many times on the top of Elbrus, so I didn’t worry about if I can reach the peak this time. I just liked that so many people are running upwards and I run with them.”
Ruslan Gomonov said, “I reached about 4300 meters and didn’t have enough motivation to climb higher. It’s really hard. I’ve already climbed to the top, we went before the race, while the weather was excellent. The program is completed and everything is cool.”
Natalya Bosykh, from Riga, who played the role of a high-altitude journalist today, commented: “The weather is so… how to say… it could be better. But the participants are very positive. Some of them even enjoy the bad weather.”
Vladimir Zabolotnyi added, “I go and I think: why did I come here? I came to participate in the Vertical kilometer, so I didn’t acclimatized enough for the race to the top of Elbrus and didn’t intend to run. But the weather, it seems, is on my side, they do not let me on to the top and everyone is turned back on the “Saddle”.”
Vladimir ran the Vertical Kilometer and he was 23rd, just after the leader of the women’s set-off, Elena Kravtchenko. In the high-speed ascent, he started from the Azau Meadow, in the Sport class.
The question we asked him on the finish line was; ‘do you know, what did you come for?’ He answered: “For pleasure!”
“The most important moment is when you’re crossing the finish line and your adrenaline is pumping”, he added. He’s not upset about moving the turning point to the “Saddle”. “Considering that I was feeling bad, the day before yesterday I caught a cold, I think that the weather helped me. Although I felt good at the top, in the area of "oblique" I went faster, and in the “Saddle” area my well being completely stabilized”.
Vladimir ended our conversation on a positive note: “Its lunch time now, I hurried down to have dinner!”
Despite the weather conditions, many still continued to struggle with themselves and with the weather and decided to go to the end - that is, to reach the “Saddle” and then run to the finish on the "Barrels". It was immediately visible on the descent, who reached the reversal point, and who turned back before it. The former ones ran down, trying to improve their time on the descent, and those who turned earlier, weren’t in a hurry and descended quietly. Moreover, the weather improved by the middle of the day, the sun began to peer through, and Elbrus appeared among the clouds. Therefore, the descent, unlike the ascent, was pleasant.
Irina Morozova, editor-in-chief of the “Red Fox” magazine and high-altitude Red Fox Elbrus Race journalist for the last few years commented: “Today I went up with the participants and thought about how much powerful the group motivation is. When everyone is moving upwards, no matter how hard it is for a person, even if she is unwell or she is chopped down by altitude sickness, she continues to go upwards anyway. I think that many of those who participate in high-speed climbing to the top, and who get sick on the way from altitude sickness or from excessive physical exertion, if not for the race, would most likely have turned around without leaving their comfort zone. But because of the energy of the others around them, due to the fact that everyone around goes upwards, they also continue to move further – to a victorious finish”.
And to sum up today’s high-speed ascent to the summit of Elbrus, Alexei Ovchinnikov, former executive director of the Mountaineering Federation of Russia, now director of the "Higher Mountain School, said, "Excellent event. The weather disappointed us a bit, but it is a real adventure. The French would say - Adventure, adventure-rr” (imitates the accent).
You can find all the results and details of the Red Fox Elbrus Race at http://www.elbrus.redfox.ru/en/
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