Oksana Akhmedova: “The 46 km trail is my favourite one. It does not bring you that kind of exhaustion that surpasses all joy”

13.06.2017

Several winners of previous adidas Elbrus World Race 2017 competitions are going to participate in it again. Oksana Akhmedova is one of them. She won Elbrus Mountain Marathon in 2015, and now she’s applied for running the same trail. Oksana told us about what she’s planning to do this season and also explained why she prefers this particular trail.

After all this time you’ve been participating in the adidas Elbrus World Race competitions, what has it become for you?

– It’s a special race for me, because my journey to the world of trailrunning started with it. Back in 2015 Alexander Baranov and I took part in the “Run High” project held by adidas. Its climax was the adidas Elbrus World Race, the 46 km trail with the total elevation of 3060 m. Trails remained terra incognita for me, though I had already participated in cross country races that were held in Nikola-Lenivets in 2014.

Running the Elbrus Mountain Marathon 2015. The photo is provided by the participant.

 I managed to win in 2015, which was a surprise for me and the guys from adidas with whom we were working on the project. Having spent 9 hours on the trail, I experienced another kind of running, it brought the emotions I had never felt before. Since then trailrunning competitions have become a set part of my competition season.

In 2016, I decided to participate in the adidas Elbrus World Race again to run the 59 km trail and train this way to prepare for my first 100 km race that I was going to run several weeks after aEWR. I wanted to be among the winners again, but I came fourth.

This year, I’m going to run TDS within the framework of Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie, a 119 km trail with the elevation of 7200 m) and participate in aEWR to run the marathon. It seems to be the most interesting one, as it’s challenging and technically difficult; it enables you to feel how serious it is, yet it’s both competitive and not as exhausting as the Ultra race. Of course, I’ll try to win, but the key aim is the preparation for TDS.

The Syltrankel lake. It is here where the first ascent of the trail ends and where the Elbrus11 participants finish. Photo by Danil Kolodin / Fun’Da’Mental Agency

The number of people participating in aEWR is growing. What was it like to compete in the previous years and is it going to be more difficult this time?

– In 2015, the competition was low: only 8 ladies participated in the 46 km race. My result was 9 hours 28 seconds, and the gap between the first and second places made up almost 1.5 hours. In 2016, it all changed. The organizing team added two more trails, namely Elbrus11 and Elbrus Mountain Ultra (59 km), and it helped attract a record amount of participants. Not only did the amount of participants rise: their performance level also grew, the race winner’s result was 7 hours 15 minutes. It got more difficult to compete.

I ran the Ultra trail and fell behind three ladies almost right after the beginning and didn’t manage to see them until I got to the finishing line. The winner was Ira Safronova, her result was 10 hours 49 minutes, it’s very fast for such a difficult trail. I made it within almost 14 hours and lost, but I lost to the strongest.

The Courmayeur Champex Chamonix race (CCC, 101 km).The photo is provided by the participant

I think that this year the competition will be even tougher. Elbrus attracts you. Many people return here to try running other trails or improve their results, others just want to have a good time. Prielbrusye is a wonderful place, and it’s no accident that the competitions are getting more and more popular.

How are you preparing for adidas Elbrus World Race?

– In the last two months, I have run two marathons. I start preparing for trailrunning competitions in June. I live in Moscow, and to prepare for running in the mountains I have to train at the middle altitude. The base of the training program will be long muscle-building workouts, strength interval training and improving my overall physical condition. During the mountain running season, I always go in for crossfit. Frankly speaking, I relax when I’m preparing for trailrunning, whereas road running focuses more on speed and pace.

How do you choose trails and do you have favourite ones?

– As to aEWR races, I ran only the 46 km one and the 59 km one. They have the same route except for an additional loop in the case of Ultra. There you get to a ridge where the view of the eastern peak of Elbrus is magnificent. It’s not seen from the places that are featured in common touristic routes.

Running Elbrus Mountain Marathon in 2015. The photo is provided by the participant

I think that the 46 km trail remains my favourite one. I’m lazy and do not like short races: they are more difficult for me. Perhaps, that is why I never apply for participation in Elbrus11, where you have to struggle ascending. I always need time to get in the zone. The 46 km trail is perfect for it, as it does not bring that kind of exhaustion that surpasses all joy, and you can reach the finishing line being happy. When I ran the 59 km race, I got very tired and it definitely brought negative emotions along with the losing.

 One day I will run the 112 km trail, but it’s the technical difficulty of the route that scares me: it cannot be compared with the trails available in Europe. Perhaps, I’ll venture to apply for this trail next year.

At the highest pass of Elbrus Mountain Ultra, 2016. The photo is provided by the participant

What was most difficult for you in the competitions held in previous years? Were there things that were truly challenging?

– For me, the main difficulty of aEWR is the trail terrain. There are few places where you can actually run, you can do it only as you’re covering the last 15 km. All other sections of the trail imply climbing mountains or doing down stepping on loose rocks and being afraid of breaking a trekking pole, leg or arm. It takes great technique and skills that I don’t have. Sometimes I really feel scared when descending.  

Yet a truly challenging thing happened last year, when several hours after the start I realized I was going to lose. It was difficult to find a reason to keep on moving. I ran with a friend for whom it was the first mountain race, and it helped, because I felt I had some kind of responsibility to support him while running.  

Last year, the weather favoured the race participants: it was sunny, but not too hot. Photo by Sergey Simov

What advice would you give to the participants who want to run adidas Elbrus World Race and achieve the best result?

– I’d advise to be scrupulous about choosing a trail. If you don’t have experience in trailrunning, it’s better to choose Elbrus11 or Elbrus Trail. You’ll enjoy the race much more if you are ready for it from the physical and, which is especially important, psychological point of view.

It’s important to prepare properly, to work on your techniques to be used when descending, to improve your stamina: these are more important than speed. Determine what your weak points are, do squats and lunges, build your back muscles – prepare your entire body for the work.

At the Elbrus Mountain Marathon 2015 finishing line. The photo is provided by the participant

You should also pay attention to your equipment. Think in advance what you may need besides the obligatory equipment. Think about when exactly you will eat, take enough water and isotonic drinks. Your backpack size must fit you. Even an insignificant thing such as a water pack straw that keeps on touching your cheek can irritate you after several hours of running and even spoil the race.  

Well, the key is the right attitude. If you consider adidas Elbrus World Race to be an adventure, you’ll enjoy the competition, and it’s the best result you can achieve.

 

The ADIDAS ELBRUS WORLD RACE competitions are annually held in the first week of August and include 5 races: Elbrus Mountain Race, Elbrus Mountain Ultra, Elbrus Mountain Marathon, Elbrus Trail, Elbrus11.

ADIDAS ELBRUS WORLD RACE 2017 partners

 The general partner: adidas Outdoor

The competition organizer: Alpindustria company

The competitions are held under the auspices of the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic Ministry of Sports, the regional Emergencies Ministry department, and the local authorities.  

Official website of the Race: ADIDAS ELBRUS WORLD RACE

The official Youtube channel  

The official Facebook page

The official Vkontakte page

The official Instagram page

The author of the article: Andrey Permyakov. Photos by: Sergey Simov, Danil Kolodin /Fun’Da’Mental Agency; several photos are provided by the participant.