Nation Race: Hardcore racers gather in Odesa to run through mud and fire (photo, video)
Sport12:57 Aug. 24, 2016

Hardcore racers gather in Odesa to run through mud and fire (photo, video)

Chornobyl might become next location for obstacles race

Last weekend more than a thousand athletes landed on the peaceful beach of Tiligul in Odesa region. They came here from all around Ukraine to participate in the Nation Race - the run with obstacles. This new type of challenging competitions is becoming more and more popular across the globe. 

Yuriy Podlesniy, Nation Race organizer: "If they are popular all around the world, why shouldn't they be popular here, in Ukraine? It's all very simple – they conquered the world, they came to Ukraine and they won over the hearts of the Ukrainians."

Watch also UT Special Report: New type of challenging competition takes place in Kyiv

Yuriy organized first Nation Race in the spring of 2015 in Kyiv.

Ever since the race has grown into an entire culture – with several locations across Ukraine, with open training sessions prior to the race and with participants following the race from one location to another. And Yuriy has more surprises coming up soon:

Yuriy Podlesniy, Nation Race organizer: "There's a very challenging location – Chornobyl. And right now we're discussing the possibility for 2017. But we clearly understand that if we have a green light for this, we will need to involve other organizers for this race."

So what is Nation Race? It's a trail run, where the participants need not only to run a certain distance, but also overcome obstacles, which sometimes require going through mud, dirt, water and even fire. So what motivates people to do that?

Maksym Omelchuk, racer from Kyiv: "First of all to show my daughter the correct lifestyle, to fulfill my life, to check myself, my capabilities and for fun of course."

Kiril Honcharenko, racer from Kyiv: "I'm doing this for first time, I think it's an amazing challenge when you can run on the beach."

The popularity of the obstacle races is gaining momentum. Right now there are around 4,000 races around the world. And today on the outskirts of Odesa more than a thousand people gathered to test their will and strength.

UT's Volodymyr Solohub decided to test his will and strength as well by joining the 13-kilometrs race, which has more than 20 obstacles. The first challenge was to run in the knee-deep water some 600 meters. Then.. came the sandbags.

The participants were given a 25-kilogram sandbag, which they had to haul up and then down the hill. Then the tire flip, carrying the cinder blocks, climbing the walls and rope ladder, swimming across the lake, and running, running, running under the blazing sun.

Volodymyr Solohub, UT correspondent: "I think that by the end of this race my body will totally hate me. But my soul and my spirit will love it."

During this event, participants can choose between three difficulty levels – beginners, who run 3 kilometers with 10 obstacles, 5+ kilometers with 15+ obstacles and 13 kilometers with 20+obstacles. If you fail an obstacle you are fined with 30 burpees – an exhausting exercise especially if you are so close to the finish line, which also means that you are close to dying.

Volodymyr Solohub, UT correspondent:  "This is the very last obstacle. In my 13-kilometer run having already been fined  3 times for failing 3 obstacles and by the looks of it I'm not gonna do this one either."

And yes you guessed it. Another 30 burpees – this time in a puddle. Finally I'm at the finish line, but then so are many other participants, including those, who started later than me. But my main goal wasn't to be first at the finish line, my goal was just to get to the finish line, period. I also decided to ask other participants, what drove them:    

Yuliya Pogorelova, racer from Donetsk: "You know, I wanted to break the stereotype about girls that says 'we are weaker'. Look at me – I have 43 kilograms, I left behind most of the men, men who are bigger and stronger than me. Isn't it great?"

Gilevich Vitaliy, racer from Odesa: "It's a personal challenge. It's a challenge to one's strength and one's will. We should all have a healthy lifestyle – it's attractive and deserves respect. And together we will be able to build a healthy and strong nation."

Vitalina, racer from Kharkiv: "Very exhausting. I was fined 3 times and had to do burpees. I don't know how to wear a dress right now with all the scratches, but I have no regrets. I'm very happy."

And this guy, who is 36 years old, took up sports only a year ago and raced 5 kilometers with 15 obstacles. We asked him what motivates people at his age to take up sports:

Serhiy Protsenko, racer from Odesa: "You see, people in our country instead of drinking vodka and feeling depressed, should get their guts together and lift their spirits and their power."

For most this will remain a mystery – why do the people pay money, travel to other parts of the country, run through sand and dirt, crawl in mud, climb the hills with 25-kilogram sandbags on their backs and experience pain and exhaustion. But for this happy bunch the answer is obvious – to test yourself, to push yourself beyond your limits. And looks like they're ready to do it again and again.

Volodymyr Solohub and Serhiy Galanyuk from Odessa region for Ukraine Today.  

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