By 21:30 on Thursday, 23/2, we were on the road, going from Nicosia to Cape Greco. A bit more than 1 hour driving, and I wanted to be at the start around 23:00.
We went the closest we could get to the Lighthouse of Cape Greco - the fence - and started to get ready. Not windy and not too cold. Was perfect weather to run in the night.
The time turned 00:00 and me and Yiannis (who was planned to accompany me for the first 29km) started running. In 2hr 58mins, we got to the first station in Panayia Picnic site in Xilofagou through rocky trails, the coastal promenade, on and off Ayia Napa sandy beaches, some dirt road and some asphalt.
We were both feeling pretty good, and Yiannis decided to carry on. And he was very welcome to do so, as time goes by much faster with good company. Tea, coke, baguette, and 14 minutes later we both left the station, heading to Salt Lake.
...From Xylofagou station, it was dirt road, asphalt road through the British Base in Dhekelia, Oroklini, and then the costal promenade and Finikoudes. Soooomewhere in this route, we did also see a Barn owl ...Just after the Medival Castle, we could see the sky changing into the magic morining colors. The clock showed 06:02, and we arrived at Salt Lake, the second station for the day, 57km in the run.
The support crew became magicaly bigger, as Cyprus Trai Runners founders Chris and Bryan came to say hi, while Stephanos and Djiak , came to share some kilometers. The stop was about 18 minutes, chatting, drinking cokes, tea, noodle soup, and eating salt biscuits amongst the flamingos.
The longest flat section was now over, but it did manage to take quite a bit from my strength, as I'm not used to be running on flat thaaat much. The ascents and descents would start gradually to appear, and so were the green landscapes and trails.
Dromolaxia, Tersefanou, dirt roads, and in the fields, surrounded by wind turbines, now running alone, getting my first hill ascents as a warm-up to what was gonna follow. Just before Alethriko, I realised I didn't have my poles, and as I knew I was gonna need them, we met up with the support in the village.
Then it was under the highway, aaand off to my first steep ascent to Stavrovouni. Felt actually nice getting some other muscles working!
Just under the Monastery, Patinios and Louiza joined the run, while Djiak with his bike was at the station (80km) waiting with the crew.
By the time I arrived at the station, the sun was shining bright, so changed into tshirt, had some more coke, some protein shake, noodle soup aaand who knows what else to leave after 13minutes.. Next stop, Lefkara dam...
Legs became stiffer and stiffer at the stations. Left from Stavrovouni with a technical downhill, then some more downhill on dirt roads, under the highway once again, and some more downhill. Past Cyta's Makarios Teleport, then towards Dipotamos, in and out river crossings a few times, and the uphill to the Lefkara Dam that felt it took forever. Those kilometers before Lefkara dam were quite exhausting. Reached the 106km for the day, after 13 hours and 13 minutes. About 1 and a half hours later than what I was hoping for. Made a long stop at the station, changing, eating spaghetti with avocado, drinking, saying silly things, and generally moving slowly... 33 minutes later, we were off, this time with Nicolas , who would accompany me till Kionia station. We chatted a bit in the beginning, but then I went into silence. I had to refocus on my target. All this enthusiasm could easily become a boomerang and hit me...
...a few kilometers later we were back chatting, enjoying nature aand I think moving a bit faster...
Lefkara to Kionia was the section with the most ascent for the first day. Picked all the steep uphills, and soon Costis and Kouzis joined with their bicycles too, until we got to Kionia station, after 123km for the day. After the stop, we all 4 continued to Macheras Monastery, and then me and the cyclists to Lazania. Until we got to Lazania trail, it was time to take out the headtourch. Some kilometers later we got to the village, having 132km for the first day, with 3083m elevation in 18:26.
So into the car it was, and to Gouri we went, where we stayed for the night.
A shower, rice and veggies for dinner and at 21:30:00 I was laying in bed.
21:30:01 I was sleeping.
The second day started with me struggling to open my eyes around 02:00am... Got ready, ate 1 or 2 bananas, had my vegan protein shake, and left from Gouri just before 03:00 to get to Lazania. By 03:07, I was running, heading to Palechori, passing from Fikardou and Gouri. Just before the main road crossing, Stephanos and Petros joined the run. I was feeling quite good and could run most uphills. We saw the sun rise from Appis Trail, and then we arrived in Palechori. More and more people joined the run. Markellos, Mashias and Pavlos were waiting in Palechori, ready for their morning run. Had a 15-minute stop at the station, and then we left. It was pretty cold, and the second day had just begun... I did feel good, and running with experienced runners made it even better, but we still had a long way to go...
Palechori, Askas, up to Alona road from off trail and down to Agros from dirt road with beautiful view of Papoutsa and Troodos mountains. From Agros, it was just uphill until we got to Madari lookout fire station. The group kept growing as Simos and Elena met us and followed along in that part. Up on Madari trail, we had some snow running.... just to warm up for Troodos... We got to the station by 09:39, - after 43km and 2000m elevation for day2 - where crew and friends were waiting... This was becoming a fest... Noodle soup, coke, refill, goodbye to the group, and left with Nicolas . The next section was gonna be tough!
So left from Madari station with Nicolas , running downhill the trail to Platania picnic site, by the mouflons. Then steep uphill. I knew this was gonna be the most difficult part... we were getting closer and closer to the snow. On the trail, we were fine, but the higher we went, the more snow there was... Our legs were disappearing in more than 30cm high snow for 4-5 kilometers. We were going slow. Somewhere in the white trails, Theodosia joined me and Nicolas with her positive energy for a few kms. We made a short stop when we got to the asphalt. I decided to keep going on the asphalt to the next station instead of getting in the snowy trails. It was risky and would slow us down even more. Not to talk about how much more energy I would waste.
Got to the station about 14:00. I knew the second day was gonna be long...
Changed clothes and shoes, had some spaghetti with avocado, some french fries, gherkins, protein shake, and left after about 30 minutes with Giannos and Costis with his bike... Next station, Tzelefos, in 24km...
The way to Tzelefos Bridge was a beautiful route, where you could see the scenery changing, as we got into Paphos forest... and of course we saw mouflons running free on the mountains. It was getting later and later, and I was way behind the schedule. But it was nothing I was thinking about... As far as Troodos part was over, I knew that sooner or later I would manage.
Arrived at the station just after the last sun light. The crew was now much bigger than it was when I started on Friday. I didn't feel tiered but I knew I was... 18:22 I was leaving the station with Giannos and Nicolas who happened to choose my lowest points to accompany me. We had about 23 kilometers to get to Pano Panayia, where we were staying for the night. Mostly uphill. Definitely dark and cold. Tried to run, but ended up hiking the whole way. As I planned the route and chose all the steep good uphills, I couldn't complain 😄 ...I named this section "the funeral" .
We got to Pano Panayia at midnight. It was silence. Could see some figures standing on the road. The only sound was the slow sound from my poles. Tok....tok....tok...tok...
Day 2 was over.
It was now time to go to bed
Day 3 started with me waking up earlier than my alarm. I had decided from last night, that my start would be delayed 1 hour. So took it super slow in getting ready. The weather seemed to be great, and my legs weren't feeling thaaaat bad... The support crew came to the traditional house we stayed for the night, and we had our breakfast with hazelnut-choco nut butter on bread and bananas.
By 07:00, we were running in the village, back and forth, guessing which of the small roads I was supposed to be on.
I felt fresh. I could run without the poles, and I had the best company.
The fields were all green, and sea with sky became one with all shades of blue. The almond trees blooming and the same were the flowers. The views were just awesome.
The last day had just begun.
23km to the first aid station.
57km to go till Akamas Lighthouse.
Here we go!
We got to the first station for the day, at Evretou dam by 10:30. Had my snacks sitting on a bench looking towards the dam. The scenery was beautiful.
The following 24 kilometers until Smigies, I wanted to run on my own. It was just before the end, and I needed this loneliness. Left the station after 25 minutes. The route was mostly dirt roads, in and out some old iconic villages, and I could see I was getting closer and closer. I ran out of water about 8kms from the last station. I kind of crawled in the beginning until I decided that if I wanted water, I had to get to the station. I started running, and despite the pain of 280km, I felt like I was flying.
Got to Smigies station just before 15:00.
Coming to the final station I was thirsty but still feeling good. I didn't want to stay at the station much. I had some cokes, french fries changed tshirt, refilled my flasks and then we all left. Our cars couldn't approach the finish, so we all left together, me, runners and crew. I could run. Kind of at least. The uphills were easy. It became tough though when rocky downhill. Soooo then it was pretty much walking. A lot. And chatting, a lot.
We were at the right place at the right time!
Late afternoon. In Akamas. End of February.
We kept going and going.
After a short uphill, we could see the Lighthouse.
Started running again.
I was getting closer and closer.
We were getting closer and closer.
I dropped my poles.
Leaned to the Lighthouse.
Closed my eyes.
Lighthouse 2 Lighthouse