We want you to come to our race! Yes, you!
This will be a really unique event. It’s being done on a TOTALLY NON-PROFIT BASIS and n fact is being subsidised by various partners and sponsors, so you’ll get a lot more than you personally pay for. If you’re brave enough to make the trip, you will be rewarded with an incredible running and cultural experience. However, you probably have some questions and concerns. We’ve put together the list below to try to convince you to take that leap of faith. If your questions aren’t answered below, please contact us – you can even find the UK phone number of a race director in the ‘contact us’ page above.
Travel and Lodging
Ukraine? Wow. Lviv? Never heard of it. Convince me!
Our race is located in the city of Lviv (“Luh-VEEV”), Ukraine. A bit exotic, to be sure. But well worth the effort.
Lviv is a safe and charming city in the extreme west of Ukraine – closer to Venice Italy than to ‘current events’ in Ukraine’s east. It’s an absolutely superb place for a weekend city break – doubly so if you can get a great trail race in, too! If you haven’t already, google “Lviv” – the buzz is universally positive and the time to visit is now, while it’s still relatively cheap and undiscovered.
Getting to Lviv
Lviv is reasonably easy to get to from most of Europe.
A good “minimal duration” itinerary would be to fly in on Thursday or Friday befor ethe Race,, Run the race of your choice on the Saturday, and then Recover and fly home on Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday. Of course, you can also stay longer to rest up better and enjoy the city a bit more.
Lviv’s has a modern airport (code: LWO). You might see the city still spelled “Lwow” or “Lviv” in places. In German, it’s called “Lemberg.” The many names hint at the rich history of the city!
You can find cheap air tickets to LWO from most cities in Europe including flights on budget carriers WizzAir and RyanAir and traditional carriers like Lufthansa, Austrian, Turkish, and LOT. We encourage you to fly directly to LWO if you can. For example, from Paris there are flights via Warsaw that are inexpensive and have short transfers.
If you can’t find a good connection to Lviv, you might be able to find ways to get to KRAKOW (Poland), WARSAW (Poland), or KYIV/KIEV (Ukraine) instead. If you can get to any of these cities, there are land connections to Lviv, but you should plan ahead but it’s definitely doable.
From Krakow or Warsaw, there are cheap day or overnight buses. However, these take upwards of 8 hours or so including a typical lengthy stop at the border. Good for the budget conscious.
From Krakow there are both day and overnight trains. The overnight trains are a unique experience in that you get to be in a real sleeper train – a rarity these days. Again, you are woken up at the border for passport checks, but it’s an interesting experience nevertheless.
From Kyiv/Kiev, there are numerous trains to Lviv. Ukrainian Railways has a convenient timetable and booking site that works in English. The distance is about 500 kilomters – it’s quite far! But, there are both overnight trains and fast express trains available. Your writer here prefers the fast (700-series numbered trains) day trains while others like the overnight trains.
If you need help with any of the above options, contact us via the ‘contact us’ link at top and leave your phone number and we’ll give you a call and help you out.
Where should I stay?
Lviv is a city of about one million people. Most of the touristy stuff is situated more or less around the city centre / old city. Correspondingly, most of the hotels and hostels are there, too. You’ll find accommodation options from one star hostels to true 5 star luxury palaces and everything in between. Prices are considerably cheaper than in of most of the rest of Europe. Race start and registration is at PLOSCHA RYNOK (aka RYNOK SQUARE aka MARKET SQUARE aka TOWN HALL) at the very centre of town. It would be convenient if you could sort accommodation withing walking distance of Ploscha Rynok – in all likelihood you will. However, if you’re a bit further out, trams (UAH 5 – that’s 18 US cents!) are available or you can use UBER with most rides in the city centre area costing no more than $2-$4.
Will my phone / mobile internet work in Ukraine?
Some European roaming plans include Ukraine, others don’t. You can buy a sim card for use in Ukraine REALLY cheaply – either at the airport or once you get to the city centre you should be able to get set up with a local ‘start packet’ from an operator like LIFECELL or KYIVSTAR that for around 100-150 UAH (US $4-7) that will have more phone + fast internet allowance than you would likely consume in a short trip. Lviv is a connected city – It’s highly recommended that you get online using either your personal data plan or a Ukrainian one as soon as you can – a mobile phone required for our longer distance races, and you’ll be able to use services like UBER easily. If you want to buy a Ukrainian sim card, we recommend that you go to LIFECELL which is on PROSPECT SVOBODY (Independence Avenue) and more or less right behind and to the right of the very prominent statue of Ukrainian national hero, the poet Taras Shevchenko. Here’s a map. Just walk in with your existing mobile phone and they should speak enough English to help you out in 5 minutes or less. Another good option is to go to the LVIV FORUM shopping center (a very modern mall) where there is a LIFECELL store on the Ground Floor near the SILPO supermarket (which is also useful).
The airport and railway station are close to the city centre.
Lviv airport (airport code: LWO) is not far from the city center – maybe 10-15 minutes in typical traffic. Taxi touts may vie for your business – you can negotiate with them or ignore them – it should cost no more than around UAH 200 (US $7.50) for a ride to any central location. If you get online, UBER will be able to take you to the city centre for about half that, except during rush hour. There’s also a tram a short walk from the airport that will take you the city centre for UAH 5 (about 15 us cents!) and local buses also ply the same routes for pennies as well. Pretty much the same story applies for the railway station. If you’re travelling light you can even walk to the city centre (about 25 minutes from the railway station or 1 hour from the airport) just to ‘soak in the town’ a bit.
Foreign exchange services and ATMs are ubiquitous.
The local currency is UAH “Hryvnia”. Money changers / cambios are everywhere. Additionally, most foreign ATM cards work (we suggest you use ATMs at bank branches – there are many). Once you arrive at the airport, change a little bit of money (40 euro will go quite a ways) and then you can always get more in the city center as you need it.
Lviv is a very 'walkable' town.
Once you’re in town, you can get around on foot or via taxis or local transport. There is absolutely no reason to get a rental car.
Lviv is a superb town for restaurants and pubs.
You shouldn’t have any problems finding a restaurant you like in Lviv. If all out of ideas, go to PLOSCHA RYNOK (market square) and walk around. All cuisines and dietary requirements can be catered for. Another idea is to go to the third floor of the LVIV FORUM shopping mall (a 10 minute walk from the city centre or a short taxi ride) where there are plenty of upmarket food market options (healthy stuff) in addition to the usual McDonalds type crap.
Lviv Ultra Trail will (hopefully) have brilliant Spring weather.
Spring will be in full bloom in May. This will typically mean quite pleasant shirtsleeve weather. It might also mean rain and of course there’s always the possibility of a late chill. In general, you will experience pleasant conditions, but bring a sweatshirt/jacket to Lviv just to be sure. For the race itself, make sure you follow the obligatory kit list. If it rains before or during the race the trails might be quite (very!) muddy in places.
Race Registration and Start
When / where is race check-in?
For all distances, Race check in will be at PLOSCHA RYNOK on Friday evening. For those with exceptional travel schedules (such as arriving in Lviv late Friday or early Saturday), we may be able to check you in EARLY Saturday morning. You MUST contact us IN ADVANCE if you want to request Saturday check-in and expect any Saturday check-in to be very early (0600 or so).
At check-in, all runners must bring their mandatory kit for us to look over. At check-in, you will receive your bib, a goodie bag, and other typical race stuff. Please bring whatever food/gels that you plan on carrying to the race with you. It would really help us out if you checked in as early as possible and didn’t wait until the last moment.
What time does the race start?
Race briefings will be in English and Ukrainian (and perhaps Russian) and will be at the start gate on Rynok Square. For the safety and security of all involved, please be on time for the race briefing. If you are late to the start of the briefing, we reserve the right to delay your start so that we can give you a personal race briefing.
At the race briefing, all participants will be asked to make a pledge of good sportsmanship and no cheating.
Remember to set your watch correctly to Ukraine time! Ukraine time is one hour ahead of most of Europe and two hours ahead of UK time.
What if i can only get to Lviv Airport/Railway station on Saturday morning close to race time?
First of all, please remember that you have a quite serious running event ahead of you. Make sure you get the necessary rest! That said, in theory there is nothing stopping you from arriving on a train that arrives at say 6:12 into Lviv station and still be at the start on time. WE RESPECTFULLY MUST INSIST HOWEVER THAT YOU PLEASE LET US KNOW AHEAD OF TIME IF THIS IS LIKELY TO BE THE CASE as we will prepare your registration specifically for this eventuality. It is possible even to start the race slightly late if you let us know ahead of time and if we agree. For example, if you can really only arrive to start at 8am, that’s fine, but you need to ask us ahead of time if that’s ok. If you start late, you will still be responsible for staying on the track without short-cutting and your finish time will be based on the official race start time.
Drop bags? No. Finish bags? Yes.
We offer a limited facility for you to leave finish bags at the start/finish. We request that you keep these to a minimum. Competitor son the 123km race will be able to access these as a ‘drop bag’ as that race has a figure 8 shape and uses the start/finish also as an intermediate checkpoint.
About the Races
How hard are the races?
A good rule for any race is to go in expecting a very hard race and then being thankful if they end up being easier than that. You should be in good shape and run regularly if only at 10k distances, if you plan on trying for one of the longer distances (you don’t need to train 73k runs to do the 73k race!). This can be your first ultra, but if it is, make sure that you will have trained hard running on uneven terrain. But.. how hard are the races? Let’s talk about the longest, 73km or so race – that’s a bit over 73 real kilometers plus about 2500 meters of cumulative vertical climb. This is a serious ultra distance and the climb is comparable to that of some semi-mountainous races. You will earn your medal here in a challenging yet doable course. If unsure, start out slow (no matter what others around you are doing) and maintain a determined steady pace to the finish using a run-walk technique.
We promise that this statue of Lviv native Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, from whose name we get the term “Masochism’, has absolutely nothing to do with the difficulty of the race. Kind of.
What if you've only run on roads and in parks before but not trail.
Lviv Ultra trail is a relatively compact event and is suitable to be your first trail run race. Even if you’ve never run trail before, you are welcome to join. If you can comfortably run a standard road marathon in around 4 hours, you will probably be able to complete the 73k trail race before the cutoff time by using a ‘run/walk’ strategy (walk the uphills and perhaps a bit more). If you’re really concerned, try a shorter distance (though we think the most fun / satisfaction will come from the 73). If you really never have run on trail before, the most important thing you can do right now, besides making sure that you have the required kit for the race, is to buy and get comfortable with a pair of trail running shoes, as most ‘flat’ running shoes really aren’t suitable for trail running. Trail running shoes generally can be differentiated by the larger and more aggressive ‘lugs’ on the soles which better grip the mud. There are many excellent manufacturers of trail running shoes, though all else being equal Salomon is a very respected brand (though some of their models tend to be small in the toe box area and/or run a bit narrow). Again, the best thing you can do is to buy a pair and going on a few trial runs wherever you live.
What can I expect underfoot? What shoes should I use?
Much of the track is ultra-running heaven single track – semi-technical underfoot. If it rains or is muddy, you will really want to have ‘grippy’ shoes up to something like Salomon Speedcross. If it happens to be dry, a wider range of shoes will do. The underfoot is fairly varied – a lot of it is dirt or mud in various guises. Bits here and there are tarmac or cobblestone, but this is pretty minimal, especially at the longer distances. There’s a bit of sand and there are also some short bits of disused railway (which you can mostly avoid by running next to the tracks instead though if you’re brave you can really pick up some speed if you get some rhythm on the ties – watch out they can be slippery if wet). If it rains, expect mud. Much of the race is in forests or on forest paths, so there might be some roots and ruts. At some points for most races you will probably need to use your hands as well as your feet to help you up mild scrambles or to get over a fallen log or perhaps a few sharp hilly sections. None of the scrambling is particularly difficult or scary.
For those of you who are running to win, you will want to think strategically about where you make your ‘passes.’ The course has plenty of single-track where passing might not be the smartest option. But, we’ve interspersed into this a few wider-but-still-trail bits that we think will be the scenes for some really compelling competition.
What about road crossings?
The paths cross roads at a few places. We will have marshals in place to help you safely navigate road crossings. FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS OF OUR MARSHALS, PLEASE. THEY ARE THERE FOR YOUR SAFETY. If the marshal tells you to stop and wait, please do so, even if this adds a few seconds to your race time. Drivers in Ukraine are not particularly used to seeing runners / races. It is best to be careful and conservative. Our ability to hold events in future years hinges to some extent on our community and traffic friendliness. There is the possibility that you may get ‘unlucky’ with traffic and so may find yourself waiting for the marshal’s “ok” to cross the road thus negating your hard work in the race – it may happen. Use that as an opportunity to take a quick breather to pull ahead in the next section if you are so inclined!
In some places you may need to run on minor roads that are not marshalled. You are solely responsible for your own safety. Be sensible and conservative.
What are some good race strategies?
The information to follow is general advice and a very brief introduction to trail running race strategy – please consult dedicated internet forums for both differing views and more in-depth advice. It’s important to remember that even at the shortest distance, these are NOT road races. Instead, these are trail races which go up and down the countryside and over some uneven terrain. Therefore, you can expect your overall finish times to be slower – considerably slower even – than a standard (boring!) road race. As in road running, inexperienced trail racers often make the mistake of starting out too fast. An error specific to trail and ultra-running is being too aggressive on uphill sections. Many experienced trail runners who are not superhuman elite athletes adopt a run-walk strategy. Specifically, they walk the uphills while running the flat and downhill sections. This is certainly a good strategy for many for our events. For the longer distances, it is absolutely vital to maintain both hydration and energy levels throughout the race. This means drinking plenty of fluids but it also means eating during the race for longer distances. Critically, you need to eat BEFORE you feel hungry. For many trail runners, this means taking small quantities of energizing foods at regular planned intervals. It is highly recommended that you experiment with food and gels before the event so that you will know what works for you and your body during the event. If all else fails, bananas are an all-natural source of both long term and short term energy that also have anti-cramp positives and many find them to be a great all purpose race food. During the race, you may find yourself feeling quite tired – by all means rest at checkpoints, but to finish well, it is important to keep going. Note that many people can ‘fast walk’ nearly as fast or even faster than their ‘dead tired attempt at running.’ You may wish to utilize a fast walk strategy for parts of the race. In fact, it might just be possible for dedicated fast walkers to complete the course within the time limits as long as they keep their pace up and do not linger at aid stations. Most of our races include some short ‘technical’ downhill sections which are difficult to run for those without specific technical downhill running experience – this is normal as the ability to run technical downhills effectively eludes even many experienced trail runners. Don’t be discouraged by this – you and many others can quite happily walk down the occasional muddy or sleep slope – just take your time. You can help yourself both in technical downhills and in tough uphills by utilizing running or trekking poles during the race. We highly suggest that you bring some.
Please be a good neighbour
Don’t litter, don’t run too close to pedestrians, don’t play in traffic, don’t bang your poles on hard tarmac early in the morning while we’re near residential areas for a few minutes. Let’s be good to each other, to the environment, and to our host city.
Please be a good fellow competitor.
The course does narrow into single track to some places. Please behave in such places. Let people pass and/or wait for people. What we “win” most of all in ultrarunning is our humanity. Let’s keep it that way. If a fellow competitor is in serious distress, ultrarunning ethics suggests that it is your responsibility to stop and help him/her.
What distance should I choose?
73km is the most interesting race and distance. If you’re reading this in English, the 73km race is probably for you. That said, the others are good too. The 42km is relatively flat.
What if I need to abandon the race?
If you can’t finish the race and need to abandon, please do so at a checkpoint by handing in your bib and clearly stating your intentions to a marshal. It would also be helpful if you could make your way to the finish area in market square (by taxi, if necessary). You will be given race director and other emergency phone numbers prior to the start of the race. If you have to abandon at a checkpoint, limited vehicular transport may be available to take you to the start, though you may have to wait a while for this. In case of true medical emergencies, we will have first aid and medical staff on call and at some waypoints. We want you to be safe, but at the same token we don’t want to be sending search teams into the woods looking for you because you’ve abandoned without telling anybody. Please ensure that if you abandon that we are fully informed and register your abandonment at race HQ.
What happens if I need medical attention?
We will provide basic, trained medical (first aid) personnel for the race who will be based at race HQ and/or certain checkpoints to help runners in need. Should something happen that you need to go to the ER or hospital (for example, if you seriously twist your ankle), we will help you as best as we can within reason. However, you will be responsible for all costs associated with this. By European standards, hospitals in Ukraine are quite inexpensive. As a practical matter, most take cash. You can expect reasonable treatment in such cases.
The trail will be fully marked. However, competitors should study the course before the race to get a sense of what to expect. Having a GPS watch or the course on your phone as a backup can be helpful. In a few places where the different races converge/diverge, color coded signs will show you the way. There may be one or two places where, below an obvious hill or summit there will be a sign that says “TO THE TOP!” where you will have a small choice of routes – typically either a more direct but more scrambly ascent vs a more upright but slightly longer run. This will only be placed where the choices are judged to be roughly identical and where there is no large benefit to ‘local knowledge’ of the location.
A GPS IS REQUIRED FOR THE 123K RACE AND STUDY OF THE ROUTE
Do I need a head torch?
There is a very good chance that the 73k distance competitors will finish after dark. So, for the 73k race, a head torch IS required. You MUST carry the headtorch throughout the duration of the race. Failure to have this may result in immediate disqualification even if you are fast enough to finish in daylight.
How much water should I carry?
We require that you have the capability to carry (have reasonable containers to carry) at least one litre of water. How much you actually carry is totally up to you. Check the course maps for the location of checkpoints. Water will normally be available at every checkpoint. How much water you require depends on you and the weather. Dehydration is never fun. If you’re not particularly experienced, as a good rule of thumb you might want to plan on half a litre of water for every hour you’re on the course plus additional water taken at checkpoints.
Everybody is different, but if you would take trekking poles to a typical ultra, we recommend them here. There’s a lot of up and down hills plus maybe some slippery technical bits. While some people legitimately might prefer not to use poles, we think most people should bring them.
What food should I carry?
There will be some food at checkpoints. However, you should plan on supplementing this with your own gels, istonic pills, and other goodies. The last thing you want to be is hungry. A good race strategy that many trail runners endorse is to make sure that you eat BEFORE you are hungry and to be sure to eat a small amount of salt (such as one potato chip) at each checkpoint to help ward off cramping.
How much money should I carry during the race?
While there’s a good chance that you won’t need to spend any money during the race, we recommend the foreign visitors carry somewhere in the area of 500-1000 UAH on them ($15-$35) for eventualities such as taxis. More to the point, while we and our partners may provide some complimentary food and beverages after the race, you might want to have this money handy to buy yourself some additional food, drinks, and souvenirs as you celebrate into the night. The finish at market square lends itself to hanging out with other competitors and soaking in the atmosphere and celebrating your accomplishment!
What is the required equipment?
Toilets and Showers
There will be at most very limited toilet facilities at the start. We strongly recommend that you take advantage of facilities at your hotel / accommodation prior to the race to the maximal extent possible. Once the race starts, please wait until you are well and truly away from civilization and into the woods should nature call. Likewise, at the finish there will be at most limited toilet facilities that we can provide. There may at the start and finish be toilet facilities in a number of nearby cafes and restaurants. Local tradition dictates that you use these only if you are a paying customer. Please do not give us a bad reputation by storming in to such businesses and/or making a mess with muddy shoes and such. A good idea is to carry some money to make a token purchase at such places.
How can you fit in so much vertical climb in this race?
There’s around 2500 meters of total vertical climb in the 73km race. This includes a lot of up and down on a suprisingly varied series of hills. The image below is intended to give you a general idea of this amazing trail.
May I get a GPX/KML of the trail for use with my phone/GPS?
Go to the races page and find the race of your choice. You’ll find a map of the route there. Click the ‘play’ button on the online player to activate a menu at top right of the map display. Under there, select “download” to download the route in many formats including KML and GPS. Bear in mind however, that the courses may still be modified up to and including a few days before race day and that whenever the GPS and the course markings on the ground seem to disagree, you should always follow the course markings. “My GPS told me to go there” is not a valid excuse for cutting part of the course. As we have stated elsewhere, GPS is not necessary for this event – the routes will be fully waymarked.
It will be an awesome weekend
If you come from abroad, you will make plenty of friend during the race and there will be places to hang out at after the race. If you arrive before the race and want to meet other people, either communicate via our facebook group or just hang around the registration area. Even if you travel to Lviv alone, you’ll make friends here soon enough if you wish and we’ll help people connect.
May I volunteer?
Absolutely. If you’re not keen to run (perhaps you are the partner of a runner), please get in touch. There are plenty of volunteering opportunities, even if you’re a visitor to Lviv and don’t speak Ukrainian.