Interview: Kazbegi Trail Marathon

17 Apr 2015 13:35
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Focus on a race Interview
Credit : Kazbegi Marathon

Hello, on September 5th 2015, you’ll be organizing the “Kazbegi Trail Marathon”. Can you tell us where it is located?

Hello, “Kazbegi Trail Marathon” takes place in the Great Caucasus Mountains, the highest Mountain Range in Europe, in a remote region of the republic of Georgia.

How old is the race and why was it created in the first place?

The first “Kazbegi Trail Marathon” was held on September 4th in 2010. The idea came from Mr. Golan Lubanov from Israel, while he visited Georgia and fell in love with the breathtaking landscapes of the Great Caucasus.

No marathon had ever been held in Georgia before. The Kazbegi area with its landscapes, crystal-clear air and ancient sights seemed to be the right place to hold a high-level trail marathon. It could attract foreign runners as well as become some kind of stimulus for Georgians to join sport activities more actively.

The number of the participants coming from abroad has been growing steadily during the past five years, and more and more Georgians join the event. Our goals when we started the "Kazbegi Trail Marathon” were to introduce Great Caucasus to foreigners, to popularize sport and running events among Georgians and to settle healthy lifestyle.

Since 2013, the “Kazbegi Trail Marathon” is a charity event. We help children with leukemia and sponsor the Parents’ House at the hospital where they are treated.

Credit : Kazbegi Marathon

What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it? What distances do you offer?

“Kazbegi Trail Marathon” has 4 distances: Full Marathon (42 km), Half Marathon (21 km), Road Race (8 km) and Relay Race (on 42 km).

The 8 km race is run on an asphalt road linking two beautiful cliffs, where runners can also enjoy the views of Dariali Gorge. It is perfect for amateur runners who can’t run yet longer distances.

The routes of the 21 & 42 km races have been designed in such way that runners will experience all kind of environments: uphills, downhills (altitude difference 500m.), asphalt and priming roads. Dramatic scenery, crystal-clear air and the indescribable grandeur of the Great Caucasus Mountains, alpine slopes, ancient towers and enchanting churches will accompany you throughout the race. These distances can be as a challenge for the runners as an interesting experience because they will feel different expressions along the distance. They will run through local villages and be introduced to the local lifestyle.

As for the Relay Race, it was created to attract more participants. The race soon became very popular among Georgians.

Credit : Kazbegi Marathon

How many runners do you expect on Saturday morning? What type of runners do you plan to attract?

We expect about 300-400 runners this year. We should attract experienced trail runners as well as amateurs on the 8 km road race. Also for the 42 km Relay Race we expect groups of people and organizations.

Generally, the number of participants is not very high, but in fact, if we had thousands of participants it would be impossible to run the event in this case.

At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?

As I’ve already mentioned, the race takes place in the heart of the Great Caucasus Mountains, between 1700 and 2200m above sea level. There the weather is unpredictable. Generally, at the beginning of September, the weather is dry; days are warm, night and morning chilly.

Credit : Kazbegi Marathon

Have you planned festivities around the marathon?

On the Marathon day there is planned Kazbegi town festival. People will come from other regions of Georgia and present handicrafts as well as traditional souvenirs. The day before the marathon, after the registration at 4 star “Rooms hotel” in Kazbegi, we organize Pasta Party for runners. We invite all of them, so they can meet each other, talk and share their experience in running.

The race finished what advice would you give a runner who has never been to Kazbegi before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing?

We advise foreign participants of “Kazbegi Trail Marathon” to book several day trips in Kazbegi and around. Of course it’s possible to stay in Kazbegi one more day but Tbilisi – the capital of Georgia is very interesting with its multinational population. You should also visit Kakheti Region, which is famous for its wines, and discover Qvevri, the traditional Georgian wine making technique that has entered the UNESCO Intangible World Heritage List.

Very close to Tbilisi there is ancient cave town Uplistsikhe (1st millennium BC) where Great Silk Road used to pass. On the way, visit ancient capital of Georgia, Mtskheta (3000 years old) and the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral where the Robe of Christ is buried.

Our advice is to taste traditional Georgian food whenever you can. Each region has its own unique dishes. There are also many museums and bars open at night in Georgia. So once again we advise all of you visit Georgia and the “Kazbegi Trail Marathon” organizer, tourist agency “Visit Georgia” will help you to make this trip unforgettable!

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the Kazbegi Marathon?

If you love running, exotic adventures, tasty food and wine, ancient historical sights, giant mountains, then “Kazbegi Trail Marathon” is your race!

Credit : Kazbegi Marathon

Interview with Khatuna Gabitashvili.