Javakheti - The Course
RacingThePlanet: Georgia 2021, the twelfth edition of the RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon, takes place in the Caucasus of Georgia, the intersection of Europe and Asia. The host town is Tbilisi, the charming and colourful capital.
The course is located in the Javakheti Region of the southwestern part of Georgia, in the Southern Caucasus Mountain Range. The Javakheti Region is a unique area in Georgia which is very rarely visited by outsiders. The region itself, as well as the course, holds diverse geographical features including mountainous steppes, volcanic plateaus, rivers and beautiful mountain lakes. Javakheti covers an area of approximately 2590 sq km and borders Turkey to the southwest and Armenia to the East.
Georgia has 860 lakes, most of which are situated in Javakheti. During the race you will have the opportunity to pass by the most beautiful and biggest. Lake Paravani, on Stage 5, is the biggest lake in Georgia. Lake Paravani is situated at 2,073 meters / 6,800 feet above sea level. During ancient times, caravan routes for traders following the Silk Road would traverse alongside Lake Paravani.
Within Javakheti itself, there are several mountainous areas including the Abuli-Samsari Range – where the course will take place. The Abuli-Samsari Range holds 2 of the highest 4 peaks in Javakheti – Didi Abuli (Great Mountain) at 3,300 meters / 10,830 feet and Pa’tara Abuli (Small Mountain) at 2,300 meters / 7546 feet – you will be ascending Pa’tara Abuli and will have views of Didi Abuli during the race.
Stage 1 will take you through the beautiful forest within Algeti National Park and along the way you will pass several small chapels and the quaint village of Livadi.
Stage 2 will take you along the actual original cobblestoned path of the Silk Trading Road as you make your way up through Javakheti Pass, located at approximately 2,000 meters / 6,562 feet.
On Stage 3 you will pass by Lake Tabaskuri which is known for its spectacular blue colour. The name Tabaskuri is derived from Tbis Kuri – which means lake’s ear – because the lake is shaped like an ear! It is the deepest lake in Javahketi, with a depth of 40 meters at several locations, and is considered Georgia’s largest lake based on volume. The remains of an access path at the northern part of the Lake are evidence of a settlement dating back to The Stone Age – you will pass nearby by this historical section of the lake.
The country of Georgia is steeped in history and culture. Along the course, you will experience the many different cultures as you move through the different villages. Given the close proximity to Armenia and Turkey in the southwest corner of Georgia, you will pass through unique villages where the influences of the bordering countries, and even countries further afield such as Greece and Russia, have strongly influenced the local culture and language.
During the first part of Stage 4 you will pass through the Bezahano Ruins which are the remnants of an Armenian Basilica built in 1830. Partway through Stage 4 you will ascend to the mountainous Lake Levani which is located at approximately 2,600 meters / 8,530 feet and is the second highest point of the race.
On Stage 5 you will experience a sample of everything that Georgia has to offer including the unique history of the Dukhobor culture, which is where Camp 5 is situated. The Dukhobors (the word means “Spirit Wrestler”) were expelled from Russia in 1841 and settled into ten villages around Georgia including Tambova which is where we will stay for Camp 5. There are currently only 40 Dukhobor families remaining in Georgia as most have returned to Russia. The Dukhobors are known for their century old houses which have unique exterior patterns and very bright colours.
You will also climb to the highest point of the race in the first part of The Long March where you will pass the Abuli Fortress, estimated to date back to the 2nd millennium BC! There is little known about the origins of the fortress but all along Pa'tara Abuli (the mountain you are ascending on Stage 5) there are many different ruins, with the Abuli Fortress having held up with walls between 3 to 5 meters, still towering. The rest of the Long March will take you through abandoned mines and a few beautiful villages with a few surprises along the way.