FKT: Greg Olesiak, Helen Galerakis - Coast to Coast (Crete) - 2022-12-02

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Mixed-gender team
Start date
Finish date
Total time
16h 10m 9s
GPS track(s)

This is the classic coas-to-coast route. In the realities of western Crete, this also meant that the route had to cross the most unusual mountain range in Crete - the White Mountains. For logistical reasons, we started a few kilometers from the coast in the village of Agios Ioannis (the last town with an asphalt road). The beginning is a 6-kilometer run to the coast. The actual crossing of Creta starts from a place called Agios Pavlos - it is an old abandoned church and a taverna on the beach but open only during the tourist season (from May to the end of October).
There are many possible routes to cross western Creta from coast to coast. We chose the version through the Eligia Gorge, the Katsiveli Shelter (available only after collecting the key from the Alpine Club), the Spathi peak and the Komboi village, where the trail ends and the asphalt road begins. Unfortunately, if the route is to be coast to coast, the 20 km of asphalt at the end are a must. We finished the route in the city of Chania.
This route is not marked in any way on the ground, nor is it a path in the normal sense of the word. This is a route that we simply drew on the map to make it as straight as possible, passing through the most wonderful places in the White Mountains (we know them from training).
The Eligia gorge is one of the least known in Crete and is considered difficult. Apart from two places with artificial facilities in the form of ropes on very steep sections, we did not find any difficulties there. The gorge is narrow at the beginning, with steep slopes, then gently turns into an increasingly wider valley. Further on, our route led through the very heart of the White Mountains, a completely wild, almost completely unvisited by tourists area called Madara. The route is technically difficult, with a lot of stones, most of them have no path or trail markings (even though in the area of the Spathi peak it is a part of the international E-4 trail). The landscape is completely lunar, there are no trees, bushes or practically any vegetation, only more or less gray rocks!
We took food and drink with us for the entire day's run, although we found a water spring in the upper part of the Eligia gorge. Our friends surprised us in the village of Kamboi, where we ran out onto the asphalt road for the first time. They prepared a real food station for us with plenty of food and drinks.
The route can be completed at any time of the year, although in February or March there may be a lot of snow in the higher parts (the route rises to 2,000 meters above sea level). At the beginning of December 2022, the weather was excellent, over 20 degrees Celsius on the coast and about 12 degrees Celsius high in the mountains, with minimal snow. We ran all the time in running shoes, shorts and T-shirts.