The mountain/ultra trail running club Arkalos, under the auspices of the Municipality of Sfakia, has organized two demanding races this weekend in Sfakia.
The following information is from the Arkalos website:
1st Sfakia Sky Run – Saturday October 26
The 1st Sfakia Sky Run – Sea to Summit – takes place on Saturday. It is a special race, unique for Greece, and, as its name implies, consists of a continuous uphill run that starts from sea level at Loutro and ends at the highest peak of the White Mountains, Pachnes, at an altitude of 2,454 meters. This will be a race of strength, endurance and persistence, as the path ascends 2,600 meters in just 20.3 km. [trekking poles are recommended]
Runners will assemble in Sfakia harbour at 6:30am to get their running numbers. At 7:30am they will board the ferry that will take them to Loutro, where the race will begin at 8:15 exactly. Along the marked route there will be stations with water, nuts, special energy gels, cola refreshments and fruit. For safety reasons and the smooth running of the event, a time limit of 5 hours has been set for the race. There will be two time-check points: one in the village of Anopoli (4.5 km, 680m+) which athletes will have to pass in 70 minutes, and one at Roussies (17.3 km, 2,100m+), which runners will have to pass in under 4 hours.
After the race, athletes will be transported back down from Roussies to Anopolis, where they will be given lunch, and then from Anopoli to Hora Sfakion.
For the safety of the athletes and the protection of the natural environment, the race is limited to 50 participants [now changed to 60].
6th Sfakia Vertical Run – Sunday October 27
The 6th Sfakia Vertical Run from Loutro to Anopolis takes place on Sunday. The race tests strength and endurance, as the path ascends 690 meters in just 4.5 km. For the race to run smoothly, it is limited to 250 participants.
Athletes will gather at the port of Sfakia from 8:30 am, where they will be given their running numbers. The boat for Loutro departs at 10:00. The race begins when the ship’s door opens in Loutro. Then the athletes run across Loutro beach front and ascend the rocky path to the church of Agia Ekaterini at an altitude of 687 meters, where they must ring the church bell before continuing downhill to the finish line in Anopolis square. There will be 2 water supply stations, one in the middle of the route and one just before Agia Ekaterini.
There will be prizes and a traditional meal in the village square. The athletes will then be transported back to Sfakia.
[in 2017 the fastest time was 37.35 minutes]
We have been told that both paths have been cleared of loose stones and other debris and are freshly marked. Friends who hiked to Pachnes a few days ago saw people training for the Sky Run up there. They also encountered a group of mountain bikers making their way to the summit – hopefully their bikes did not damage the path or run over any hikers.