SkyRunning is an adrenalin-packed mixture of running and hiking which allows the runner to test their physical abilities, while enjoying the scenes of divine beauty. Naturally, this is a sporting adventure for those who sometimes feel stifled by the comforts of the modern world.
Man was not built to run on rubber tracks. Our build adapted to wild terrains, rock, earth and grass for centuries. Nature gives us so many options for extraordinary recreational experiences, that the very idea of staring at a digital timer of a treadmill in a stuffy gym in the centre of a city seems like a rookie mistake to make. At the beginning of September, a team of skyrunners will gather in the vicinity of Niška Banja and run the Sokolov Put (Hawk’s Path), a mountain trail 30 km long, on limestone and pebbles. In certain parts of the race, they will literally be running through clouds. With a little luck, even through rain. That’s what you’d call a workout!
photo: Milan Kopčok
Skyrunning is a daring mixture of running and hiking, a form of ultramarathon taking place at high altitudes. Of course, it is ideal for those who don’t want to give in to the overly indulgent trends of the modern age.
Up until a few years ago, the aficionados of this extreme sport in Serbia had to travel abroad to rise to the challenge and test their stamina. But, ever since the Serbian Skyrunning Association was given support from the International Skyrunning Federation – licensed races regularly take place on Serbian mountain trails. As Serbia is abundant with mountain peaks, which characterize its more than impressive scenery, this type of extreme sport has been gaining popularity from season to season.
“In skyrunning races, by following the trail and conquering mountain peaks, runners do sometimes run through clouds, or even above them”, explains Damir Ljubojević, the athlete who took part in all Serbian Skyraces so far. “That is the true beauty of this sport. It awakens your adrenalin, which you can feel even after you have conquered a mountain top and your body becomes tired and refuses obedience, but you have to keep going towards the finish line. Only going past your own limits brings you additional adrenalin. Of course, the best feeling comes after you cross the finish line. All pain disappears. The race is over, and you have won a battle with yourself.” This sport allows for a complete contact with the wild outdoors, as well as our own abilities. Therefore, the physical efforts at great altitudes also require serious preparations.
Prior to running mountains, you should train in the conditions that most closely mimic those that you can encounter on the trail. For a while, you should be running on ups, downs and different surfaces, such as rock, earth, grass and sand, avoiding asphalt whenever possible. The key is in joint stamina. You need to train not only your legs, but also your entire body.
“Strong back and shoulders make it easier for you to carry your backpack during long races, while strong hands make it easier to use the canes,” explains Damir, adding that the most important thing in this sport is your psychological strength. “Only a strong head can make a runner keep running even after the cramps and fatigue have set in, stay positive and enjoy the gorgeous nature surrounding them”.
As the experienced skyrunners will tell you, the beauty of skyrunning is in the fact that every sky race is a challenge unto itself. The weather is never the same and meteorology has quite a large impact on the course and conditions of the race. “The man is the a child of nature, from which we have alienated ourselves”, emphasizes Ljubojević. “We go to the mountains to correct this imbalance and beat our own limitations. We all compete against ourselves, not against other racers. Assistance to other racers is a constituent part of this sport.”
autor: Miljana Nešković