Back in his native Poland for this one, Szymon Chojnacki took trip to the Bieszczady Mountains for the X Bieszczady ultra-marathon event where he lined up for the 26km race. The route was a very demanding one, with ascents totalling 1,120m, so it was not to be taken lightly. Szymon is always up for the challenge though and like he does with any race he competes in, he threw himself into it with vigour.
The route for the 26km distance runs along the black Bieszczady Running Route, starting from Solinka. From there it’s about 3k along a gravel path towards Żubraczego, heading round the Hyrlata massif, where the climbing begins. First it heads up Berdo, which is 1,041m above sea level, then it’s over to Hyrlata at 1,103m, then onto Rosocha at 1,084m. Then it’s down Roztoki Górne and along the asphalt road to Toztokami pass at 801m above sea level. Then it’s along the ridge to Okrąglik at 1,101m above sea level. Then it’s off towards Cisna, heading up Jaslo at 1,153m, Szczawnik at 1,098m and Małe Jasło at 1,097m.
The first couple of miles were on a downhill trajectory, enabling Szymon to get off to a quick start, with 6:03 and 6:13 splits. Then next mile was uphill all the way, with 1,092ft of elevation to get up. The climbing continued into the fourth mile before levelling out a bit at the top. Then it was a big descent for a mile and a half before embarking upon the next climb. That took him on an upward curve for the next four miles. It was mostly heading back down the mountain for the remainder of the race.
It had been a gruelling route and certainly took a lot out of Szymon but he gave it his all and made it to the finish line in 2 hours 29 minutes and 6 seconds. That put him in 4th place out of 303 competitors and saw him take the prize for 1st M40. It was a really impressive display from Szymon, considering he doesn’t usually train on that sort of terrain.
The winner of the race, Karol Siola, got round in 2 hours 19 minutes and 35 seconds, giving him a lead of almost four minutes over his nearest rival Tomasz Zygmunt who completed the course in 2:23:23. Kamil Wrobel took 3rd place in 2 hours 25 minutes exactly.
Over the course of the 15.29 miles he covered he’d conquered over 3,900ft of elevation. It was a huge undertaking but Szymon had coped well with the tough terrain and still managed an average pace of 9:45 minutes per mile despite all the steep ascents and descents.
He loved running in the Bieszczady mountains though and seemed to thrive in the challenging environment he was facing. After the race he proudly took his place on top of the podium to receive his trophy for 1st M40, capping off a magnificent weekend in the most picturesque surroundings.