In the footsteps of Ukrainian Cossacks - "Varna Marathon"

А в недiлю пораненьку
Зiбралися громадоньки
До козацької порадоньки.
Стали раду радувати,
Вiдкiль Варни добувати:
Ой чи з поля, ой чи з моря,
А чи з рiчки невелички?
Ой, в недiлю пораненьку
Бiжать, плинуть човенцями,
Поблискують весельцями,
Ударили iз гармати,
Була Варна здавна славна —
Славнiшiї козаки,
Що ту Варну дiстали
(Excerpt from the Ukrainian People's Duma about the Cossacks' march on Varna (1606) led by Peter Sagaidachny or Hryhoriy Izapovych (various sources indicate different leaders of the campaign)

In May, I decided to start getting acquainted with the next country, as there were not many countries to choose from, so I decided to stop my choice on Bulgaria and its running starts. He decided to take part in one of its marathons in May to get acquainted with the races of this Balkan country.


In May, four marathons are held in Bulgaria, namely two road marathons in cities such as Varna and Pleven and two trail marathons in the villages of Sinemorets and Ravnogor. I decided to stop at the "Varna Marathon", as it was the easiest for me to get there.


It was possible to register for the “Varna Marathon” through the official website of the running event, where participants could choose the main distance of 42 kilometers or one of the two satellite distances of 21 and 10.5 kilometers. The entry fee for the participants of the main distance started from $ 30. After payment, the participant received a letter to his email stating that he was registered. One nuance is the starting number of the participant is assigned on the day of receipt of the starter pack.


The trail route for the main distance, namely 42 kilometers, consisted of 4 laps of 10.5 kilometers each. But it passed mainly along the paths of the local park and the embankment of the city of Varna.


There were several ways to get to Varna, namely by plane or bus. The bus was dropped off immediately, as it was necessary to cross Romania, and in the current conditions, it was not very clear whether there would be any problems when crossing the border. So I decided to focus on the option with the plane. As for the plane, it was possible to fly through Vienna, Istanbul, Berlin, and Sofia. He also decided to reject the options with a change in Vienna, Istanbul, and Berlin, and stay in Sofia. As it made the crossing of the border more convenient and accordingly reduced surprises that could arise at the border crossing.


In the current conditions, a tourist can get to Bulgaria under one of the conditions, namely, if he was vaccinated, has antibodies or a negative PRL test is made no later than 72 hours before crossing the border. Since the vaccination has not been passed yet, and I did not really want to pass it before participating, I also do not have antibodies (I have not been affected yet), so once again I was waiting for the PRL test. The only nuance is to take the PRL test for a tourist returning from Bulgaria twice, namely before arrival in Bulgaria and after returning to Ukraine. Here I will be a little distracted and I will tell a little word about how the citizen of Ukraine get back to Ukraine.


Upon arrival from Bulgaria to Ukraine, a citizen of Ukraine must install the application "Home", it is desirable to install it in advance, which would be easier abroad. When crossing the border, you need to show the phone screen with the "Home" application open. And have a negative PCR test, which was conducted a maximum of 72 hours before entry. If there is no PCR test, you need to go through 14 days of self-isolation. If a citizen does not want to stay at home for 14 days, he can pass the PRL test and with a negative result, self-isolation ends prematurely. You can take the test both at the Boryspil airport and when you arrive at the place of self-isolation and call the doctor's home, or visit a clinic that does such tests. As for me, I decided to take the PRL test at the airport, after which I went to the place of my self-isolation. When I broke into the place of self-isolation, the application informed me that I was already in place and could go through a 14-day self-isolation. Then the countdown of days of self-isolation began, every day is given two hours that you could walk somewhere, go to the pharmacy and grocery store. And in the morning my self-isolation ended because the system received a negative PRL test.


Well, back to Bulgaria. Upon arrival at Sofia Airport, namely the old terminal and passed passport control, you must present a passport and a negative PRL test, after which you can enter the country. And this is where my first disappointments began. Because in this case, I got into a kind of slightly improved Egypt or Ukraine, when you just left the airport suddenly you see people who want to take you somewhere and offer you services that are completely unnecessary (at airports, this annoys me a lot). Since I flew to the old airport in Sofia, and the flight to Varna was from the new one, I needed to get there somehow. You can get there in 2 ways, either by bus (free), which runs every 30 minutes between these terminals or by taxi ($ 10).

Upon arrival in Varna and leaving the airport, people were waiting for me again, wanting to take me somewhere. Varna itself can also be reached from the airport in 2 ways by bus (1 lev), which goes to the city center, or by taxi (about 10 levs).


Arriving in Varna and settling in the hostel, I began my acquaintance with the city, which I had to flee in two days.

The next day in Varna for me began with a walk to the place of issuance of starter packs to participants, which took place at the hotel "Black Sea". In order to get his starting number, the participant had to present his passport and then he was handed his starter pack (number, T-shirt, and backpack). No exhibitions were held. So taking my starter pack, I went for a walk through the streets of Varna.


The most interesting part of my next trip was to take place at 9:30 on Sunday morning in Independence Square in front of the Stoyan Bachvarov Drama Theater. Which from the very morning began to fill with those wishing to take part in the "Varna Marathon".


The route of the "Varna Marathon" consisted of four laps of 10.5 kilometers each. In addition, several ascents and descents were expected for the participants on each lap, the largest descent for the participants was expected at the mark of 5 kilometers, and the largest ascent, about 1 mile before the end of the circle. The running route itself passed through the streets of the city, but most of the route passed through the park, where the treetops saved the participants from the sun and along the embankment of the city of Varna. As for the food points, three points were set up on each circle, where the participants could drink water or isotonic and eat different delicacies.


After pre-start instructions from the organizers for the race participants at 9:30 was the start of the "Varna Marathon". Participants of the marathon and half marathon started at the same time, and after them, the participants of the 10-kilometer race started separately.


That's why my first Bulgarian running adventures started after 9:30. The route itself seemed quite interesting to me, although it consisted of several laps. The first part of the circle was quite convenient for running, as it mostly ran along the paths of the park, and the treetops protected from the sun. After jogging through the park, a decent awaited me, followed by the promenade, where on one side there was a beautiful view of the Black Sea, and on the other, there was a rock. I can't say that I was comfortable enough to run along the embankment, as there were almost no trees on it that could protect me from the sun. The only thing that helped her was the wind, which sometimes blew from the sea.


After jogging along the waterfront, a small ascent awaited me, followed by the city streets and a new circle. And this operation had to be repeated four times, where the first 5 kilometers you admire the nature of the park, the next 4 kilometers you sunbathe and finally, how wonderful that one circle became less.


And in 4 hours and 52 minutes, my running adventures through the streets of Varna came to an end. And at the same time my first Bulgarian marathon, which left interesting impressions and positive emotions.


The marathon in Varna turned out to be quite good. It was a bit disappointing that no SportExpo was held during it, where you could get acquainted with local running events in more detail. As for the route, it seemed interesting to me, the nature of the park and the rapid descent, and then the promenade and a small climb. Although, in my opinion, the crew of firefighters with a water spray did not interfere with the section that passed along the embankment. The route itself was completely fenced off from foreign vehicles, which were monitored by local police and sailors, in addition, there were doctors and volunteers on the route, who provided assistance to participants if necessary.

!!!Photos with Ukrainian runner Bohdan Semenovych, the winner of the 21-kilometer distance (1:06:41), were used to design the article.

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Andrii Androshchuk
Andrii Androshchuk

I like running. My blog about running and digital marketing:

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