FKT: Natália Martínková - Zdarske vrchy (Czech Republic) - 2024-04-18

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
11h 30m 11s

The first 13 km in about two hours. Happy, energized, enjoying the views. The next 39 km took 10 hours.

Looking back, my analysis is that I froze. On the open sun, without wind, I was hot, but the gusts of wind were freezing cold. Bit by bit, the cold seeped more energy, and digesting normal food was too slow to compensate the energy expenditure. As my sugar levels decreased, my cognitive abilities disappeared, I accumulated more navigational mistakes, couldn't keep up with clothes changes, and choked on my solid food on the go. So I delayed eating by about 1 km to get to the top of Žákova hora, which I now know pushed me into an abyss.

My mind gave up after descending from the Devět skal peak, and I asked my WhatsApp tracking group for support. The descend was steep and technical and I had to slowly judge every step, because I had twisted both my ankles during training. The mental challenge was on par with the physical. But it only got worse from there.

When the first of three snowstorms hit at the Křoviná peak an hour before the forecast, I made the choice to change into a dry, long-sleeved shirt in the snow, but to continue eating my sandwich sitting down. More energy lost than gained, it felt like. As time went on the navigational mistakes accumulated, I noticed them later, correcting them got more challenging, and actually required experimentation, because I was not able to figure out where I was in relation to the then very cryptic lines on my watch. I didn't recognize how dangerous my situation got at the time. Once the grass dried after the second snowstorm (each lasted maybe 5-10 min), I decided to change into dry socks, and then found that I have problems to get back into my shoes. Moreover, my watch beeped that it had 20% battery remaining. 

Food started to run out. Water started to run out. I went to a well/spring close to the Bohdalec peak, but the access was poor, so I had to lie on an edge to reach the water. There was a puddle under vegetation behind me that I rolled into, as I tried to get away from the water edge safely. I didn't have spare leggings, so had to face the freezing wind in wet clothes. Still not understanding the gravity of the situation. The reality reached my consciousness only once I got out of the forest and the wind hit the wet clothes full on. I wrapped myself in isothermic tin foil, which did not help in heating me up, but prevented a lot of further heat loss.

I lost the ability to run anywhere but on a mild downhill with soft, but even surface. I used my linear map with colors of the tourist routes between landmarks, occasionally checking my position on my phone, not turning on navigation, weary that THAT battery may not run out. I was sipping on my last gel (90g of carbs), rationing it over the last 10 km, crying, slowly freezing, and just wishing for the pain to end. The third snowstorm about 2 km form the finish was just an icing on the cake.

The photos show me at each of the peaks along the route except Štarkov. The forest there was mostly dead with lots of fallen trees, and the sound of cracking branches on the ascend scared me. I tried to get out as fast as I could, but actually had to return due to another navigation error. I include also the linear map with villages on the left and major peaks and water sources in relation to them on the right. The last two images are the examples of the online support I received. Other than that, I had the forest all to myself in the crazy weather with the exception of two groups of tourists around Devět skal. 

All in all, my run was difficult in ways I did not anticipate, and I'm glad I'm safe. Much wiser now too.