Apr 11

Our General Manager partipated in the 8th International Baikal Ice Running Marathon

Ignacio Prat, our General Manager recently completed the 8th annual Lake Baikal Marathon in Siberia. Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world, and at 25-30 million years old, it is one of the oldest in geological history. The conditions for a marathon there in March are pretty harsh. Ignacio did very well running 42 km in 4h 22min 2sec and classified in position 42 out of 125.

The International Lake Baikal Ice Marathon offers competitors the unique opportunity to race across the frozen ice surface of the world’s largest, oldest and deepest lake. This extraordinary event takes place in one of the most beautiful places of Lake Baikal, and is based in the small town of Listvyanka, 65 km south of Irkutsk (a major stop-over on the Trans-Siberian route).

The surface of the frozen lake Baikal is covered in fields of “hummocks”, small hills of ice rubble. Beneath the ice surface, geothermic springs and seismic activity cause localized melting that sometimes may weaken the ice to form holes (though the average ice on Lake Baikal in this part is over 1 meter and a half which allows trucks and vehicles up to 10 ton in weight to drive on the ice). The race “Ice Captain” and his team of volunteers and the Baikal Ice Marathon support team have the task of plotting a safe course.

To get well prepared for the laying of the ice course about a month and half before the Baikal Marathon the organizers of the Baikal Ice Marathon study satellite photos of the ice surface of Baikal to see how the lake freezes the current winter in order to locate possible stable ice cracks that sometimes can be up to 8 km long. A week before the Marathon we go on and lay preliminary Marathon course. The final course (42 km 195 m or 26 miles) is laid immediately preceding the race, otherwise movements in the ice can render the support team’s effort redundant.

On the Baikal Ice Marathon race day itself, competitors are ferried by vans from Listvyanka to Tanhoy train station, located on the opposite shore of Lake Baikal. Prior to the start of the race, competitors some years are required to partake in the precautionary ritual of “vodka sprinkling”, in order to pacify the spirits of the Great Baikal ( introducing the novel element of starting a marathon with a shot of vodka).

The course is predominantly flat, but the surface is hard at times and uneven. Although it’s mostly covered in a soft layer of snow, there’re areas of highly polished ice that create conditions similar to an ice-rink. Wind can add to the already bitingly cold temperature and provide serious resitance to progress across Lake Baikal.

The utterly featureless landscape gives little or no sense of perspective to competitors. The finish line at the port of Listvyanka can be seen almost from the start line. It is a long, cold, lonely ( if not to count the mobile 8 to 10 feed and drink stands) 42,2 km trail across the baren white landscape, where progress is marked only by checkpoints positioned at 5 km intervals (with hot drinks, food and, for the brave, some more vodka).

More info: http://blog.talusoutdoor.com/?tag=ignasi-prat-payeras

If you are interested in knowing more about this and further adventures, take a look at Gadgetsforrunning!


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