RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon Blogs 2021
View All Posts 2021 From : Brian Lang
20 August 2021 06:00 pm (GMT+04:00) Baku, Tbilisi, Yerevan
Alright, alright, alright- best day of the trek for me. After leaving our Russian turned Armenian village by the lake we started marching up through beautiful green and gold hills which we kept on until we hit stage 3 and looked straight up. About 10 mins in Pat was back in the co-pilot seat with me and I enjoyed his company until we hit the much anticipated “most difficult” stage.
This is the toughest and most rewarding stage I think I’ve ever experienced. We climb over 5000 feet in 6K and dropped about the same amount on the other side. Waiting near the top of the ascent, over boulders and huge tuffs of grassy dirt was the frame of a historic fort from the Ottoman Empire and a view from the top of Georgia. And as we crossed the mountain range we were met by farmers cutting the hay which smelled so sweet and watching them wield a scythe motivated us downhill for the next few kms.
We then headed into more rocky terrain and across swathes of farmland with sections of muck that required thoughtful navigation.
The 4th checkpoint sat on the rim of canyon that seemingly sprung out of the ground recently with a surging river below and very young and lush green riverbanks. Just before arriving at the checkpoint I had my most enjoyable altercation with a herd of sheep which attempted to navigate on a very narrow street leading to a 12th Century bridge in a historically quant village- needless to say I received a couple of Georgian expletives from the herder.
By the 5th checkpoint I was ready for a bowl of noodles and we were surprisingly offered a coke that could be in the top 5 coke quenches of all-time. Rolling farmlands, running alongside train tracks and a little more roadway (where I was offered lifts by the locals twice- completely bewildered expressions met my refusal and thanks) was all that was left to get me to amble with pace to the finish before dark and way ahead of my expected time closer to midnight. I’ve left out the rain, thunder and lightning that we enjoyed the last 4 hours as it was all part of the course and once you climb into your tent you put the wetness and muck in the rear view mirror.
Although the night brought little sleep the view that we woke up to was spectacular. We are in a village on the edge of a significant canyon- our site is called Plateau above Vardzia. The sun has burned off the early fog and we’ve checked out a 12th century church and spent time at the edge of the canyon where we can see our trek ahead of us tomorrow. So much fun laughing and hanging out with a really unique group of individuals that have shared a very compelling life event, together. I look forward to sharing my adventures with family, have loved all the words of support from my life partner AR, and friends, special call out to Mr Dipede who couldn’t join but kept a good eye on me from afar, and anyone else interested in infected, blistered toes (yes I’m on antibiotics), nose-holding freeze-dried meals and life-changing moments. PS Auntie Gwynne, will have great feet pictures to share ;-)