DYPLOM

Return to Heidiland

It passed the time required for the Earth to come full circle around the sun since…

Heidi ran to the far edge of the slope and continued to wave her hand to Clara until the last glimpse of horse and rider had disappeared. /Johanna Spyri, Heidi/

I returned to Grisons, to take part again in the mountain race Swiss Irontrail, organized by my beloved Mammut. However, using the principle of “continuous improvement”, which was burned in my brain, but most of all in my heart during 17 years of working in some company (“Thank You for Smoking”), this time I chose distance of 91 kilometers, means more than twice long as last year, when as you remember, I ran 41 kilometres.

To the starting point in Bergün I reached by train. This time, there were no questionable “attractions” with the participation of bandits, which I described in previous article. On the route there were real attractions. Rhaetian Railway connecting two historic railway lines Albula and Bernina is the UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered one of the most spectacular rail routes in the world. The surrounding landscape with its quaint villages and romantic Alpine views is also the part of the World Heritage. The route was opened in 1904, it has almost 130 kilometres and runs through 55 tunnels and 196 bridges, of which the most famous is curved Landwasser viaduct.

In the sport hall I picked up the starting number with a chip to measure time and the GPS device allowing to locate me on the route. It was possible to eat bananas, chocolate bars, bouillon, Coca-Cola and water. For competitors running longer distances (121 km and 221 km) it was already another nutrition point.

Among people competing with me in T91 I saw Ildikó Wermescher and Csaba Nemeth, professional runners belonging to Mammut Pro Team Trail Running, who, as it turned out later, won in this category. We talked briefly about running, Mammut, last year’s impressions from the race (it turned out that together with Ildikó we ran T41), Nemeth highly praised competitions played in Poland in which he participated (Race of 7 Valleys). I made a picture with Ildikó but unfortunately the quality is not the best one, nevertheless, there is a souvenir from a nice meeting and conversations.

I must once again raise the matter which I have meditated and written about recently. With horror I have noticed that as well as I, Ildikó and Nemeth had no Mammut socks! We had everything “Mammut brand” but only this “sock’s crack” in the appearance…

The gun fired at 13:00. We moved initially on flat terrain (1373 m) and after a while started climbing to 2,831 m above sea level. As it is known, if for some time is uphill, then most likely later it is down. So it was this time.

After part of the run in the vicinity of 2800 – 2600 meters above sea level, I went down from Pass digls Orgels (2699) to Savognin (1173). There was another nutrition point and the first night’s lodging. I noticed that some runners had help from families or friends who were waiting for them in main food / accommodation points and delivering fresh clothes for disguise, embrocating warming / analgesic ointments and feeding with delicacies. I had not thought about it and did not involved my family in helping on the route. My fans have only to greet me at the finish, as last year but it turned out that T91 is much more demanding than the T41. Another tip for the future.

Anyway, in Savognin I did not decided yet to sleep. I have just eaten and drunk and moved forward…

Nocturnal part of the route I recall with great fondness because it was an experience other than that with which man meets on a daily basis. Night chill, mysterious noises, crackling, voices of animals and werewolves and continuous focusing not to lose the route. Ah, something wonderful!

I decided to spend the night in Lenzerheide, the town where a year ago I started T41. I fell as dead and after a second (ah, this time dilation) I already stood up when the alarm clock rang in the watch. In the glow of the morning I set off on already known last year’s route but very different by the accumulation of fatigue. From Lenzerheide (1473) a way led up again above 2500 meters.

This time at Weisshorn (2653) there was not a snowstorm, but everywhere enveloped moist, dense fog. What made me wonder were screech of gulls and the salty smell of the sea. Something was wrong here…

Suddenly from the fog emerged a guy with a strange convex forehead and a funny mustache. He had matted hair, haggard and dirty face and eyes expressionless. He wore a stained faded, old bombazine coat, pantaloons of a similar character, a pair of worn-out shoes run down at the heels, and an old straw hat. It looked like individual pieces of clothing that he was wearing did not belong to him. He mumbled something unintelligible. When he saw me, he walked unsteadily in my direction. I was a little scared and squeezed harder poles, ready to defend. Strange guy asked in English:

- Is this Baltimore?
Then, I was already sure.
- Dear Edgar – I said – This is definitely not Baltimore, and it seems to me that you will not come back there. I think seraphim in heaven listened to you in the end and you will be able to meet with your beloved Anabel.
- Who are you? How do you know me? How do you know about Anabel?
- It may sound strange, but I read your stories and poems, as well as a description of… your mysterious death almost 170 years ago.
- You are saying that I am dead for 170 years?
- Well, I think you do not belong neither to the world of living nor the world of dead. You are suspended between them. And the time passes differently for you (ah, this time dilation).
- So this is Dream-Land?
- Not yet, but close.
Screeching seagulls and the sound of the sea has intensified …
- You have to go in the direction of the sounds. Anabel is already waiting on the beach.

He silently raised his hand for farewell, he turned and disappeared into the swirling mist. Running down towards Arosa and to the next nutrition point I have heard behind me a long restless roar like the sound of thousands seas. I have not stopped, I ran incessantly.

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
/Edgar Allan Poe, Annabel Lee/

In Arosa, I made a break for a meal and a short rest in fantastically equipped anti-atomic bunker. It was the third and last place where one could sleep, but I did not use this opportunity anymore. The pillbox was equipped with bunks, toilets, showers and a kitchen. But there are some people (especially in Geneva) who complain about the tragic conditions in this type of premises. This is not a villa with a garden of course, but for sure the place is safer than a mud hut in Eritrea being strafed with mortars.

The climb from Arosa was moderately mild but the rain pouring from the sky made it far more difficult and to the last nutrition point in Jatz (1831) I arrived terribly exhausted. When tired and sleepy, I was scrambling to the last pass on the route, leaned on the poles, I thought why am I overstraining myself so much? And the next step up… Why, at my own request I am undergoing such a torture? And the next step toward the finish line… This is the last time, never again! And the next step…

At the Strelapass I exchanged a few words with the person who kept the checkpoint and “ticked” from the list, I ran down having the last five kilometers of the route in front of me.

When reached Davos, people on the streets, despite the night, were applauding and greeting me. HAPPY I crossed the finish line!

According to Datasport I was the last ranked participant in my category; some people did not complete the race. This time I beat 90.2 km horizontally and + 5420m / – 5240m vertically.

When relaxed, happy and proud I calmly ate grilled sausages and drank beer in the middle of the night, my painful doubts from climbing to the Strelapass… vanished like mist. I have already begun to plan when and on what race I will go next time – am I normal?

I have reached these lands but newly
From an ultimate dim Thule —
From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime,
Out of SPACE — Out of TIME
/E. A. Poe, Dream-Land/

You’ve gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?

My family went on vacation to Poland and I, as a representative of “the working people of towns and villages”, have remained on the position and throughout the whole week worked efficiently. However, the weekend came and I had to plan something for the lonely two days. In the previous corporation I would not have a problem because “deadly deadlines” would force me to work during the days theoretically free from it.

Work is a right, a duty and a matter of honor for every citizen. By his work, observance of labor discipline, competition and improving its methods the working people of towns and villages reinforces the strength and power of the Fatherland, increases the prosperity of the nation and accelerates the overall realization of the socialist system. Work leaders are surrounded by widely respect of the nation.
/Article 14 of the Constitution of the Polish Republic from 1952; so called The Stalinist constitution/

Present company has not provided me the weekend overtime, so I had to come up with something myself. I thought and I came up with…

Meanwhile, Tytus... I thought and I came up with a "thoughtless". It will be placed ahead of a sentence having no sense. /H. J. Chmielewski, Tytus, Romek i A’Tomek, vol. XII

Meanwhile, Tytus…
I thought and I came up with a “thoughtless”. It will be placed ahead of a sentence having no sense.
/H. J. Chmielewski, Tytus, Romek i A’Tomek, vol. XII/

…the idea of crossing the Alps from the Rhone Valley on Swiss side until St-Gingolph in France and get back to Lausanne by boat cruising on Lake Geneva. I prepared quickly necessary equipment and moved forward to the dance!

So this gentleman, dismal gentleman
Has upset himself awfully, my ladies and gentlemen.
He realized that he
Can sit all his life by the window.
Suddenly he stood up, walked dance,
Spanish waltz add him the courage.
/Jerzy Połomski, Whole audience is singing with us/

I boarded the train at the main station in Lausanne, where an adventure has happened to me, which I would like to describe as a warning. In the train, going through the compartment, I was looking for a place to sit. Most of the them were occupied, but I saw a favorable location, where only one man was sitting by the window, with the backpack next to him and the other three seats were vacant. Therefore, I sat opposite to him, but from the aisle to be able to stretch the legs. I put the backpack on the window’s side.

Suddenly, quite loud group of black men started to squeeze through the compartment. When passing next to me and my neighbor, a fistful of small coins fell from one’s hand and showered on us and on the floor. Mumbling “excusez-moi,” one of the black men bent down and has begun collecting coins.

Already I was bending down to help him, when my exuberant imagination reminded me the films about ninjas who turn away the attention by throwing coins into the crowd. When people were busy collecting the scattered money, ninja could kill, kidnap, perform other tasks or simply run away. In a split second, I realized that here the same method has been used! I straightened up and hug the backpack to my chest! My neighbor did not watch films about Japanese assassins because he eagerly began to collect coins from the floor, while the second of black men was already reaching for his backpack lying on the seat. I shouted in English: “Watch out your backpack!” (because in French I have not gathered thoughts so fast).

Firstly, the man understood what I said, secondly he reacted and in addition showed reflexes, because in the last moments grab his backpack and pulled it out from the Negro’s hand. The robbers quickly understood that this time they failed and ran out of the train. A side effect of the incident was that I earned 50 centimes (in 10 and 5 cents), which the bandits did not manage to gather together with the wallets of passengers. Grateful tourist, as it turned from Scotland, thanked me several times for saving his belongings and was surprised that such things happen in Switzerland, normally considered as the safe country.

Oh, yes, it is not the same Switzerland as at the time of “Goldfinger” and “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. Even James Bond sees the difference and choose Austria as a place of his new adventures in the movie “Spectre”. Therefore, remember dear readers, if the rain of small coins start to fall on you, it is not a miracle – it’s an attack and not always inspector Harry Callahan can be close to you .

I know what you’re thinking. “Did he fire six shots or only five?” Well to tell you the truth in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off, you’ve gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?
/Dirty Harry/

***

I got off at the Aigle station at 12:20, being warmly farewell by the Scotchman, who was going to Chamonix. At once I moved on by tourist route along the railway, backing up initially in the direction of Lausanne. After a while (as we know from the comic books about Tytus, one while = three moments) I reached the lane of trees among which flowed Grande Eau (it appeared not too big). I turned left on the floodbank, ran under the highway and along the stream I reached the Rhone (Le Rhône).

I turned left again, into an asphalt road, which is also a bicycle and roller route. Through the bridge I crossed the Rhone and just after it I ran down the shaft to the left to the asphalt road, being again bicycle and roller route, parallel to the route from the opposite shore.

Following a flat path I ran into the village of Vouvry, over which, 450 meters above dominates Chavalon powerhouse.

The plant was commissioned in 1965 and was burning heavy fuel oil (mazut), which was created as a by-product of fuel production in a nearby oil refinery in Collombey. For ecological reasons was closed in 1999. However, in connection with the proposed exclusion of all nuclear power plants in Switzerland to 2034, will be re-launched, this time using natural gas to produce electricity.

I started to climb up the tourist trail, repeatedly cutting the serpentine roads for cars.

The heat was unmerciful… but with backpack Mammut Lithium Z 20 I was secured. I was drinking both from a tank in a backpack (about the advantages of this method I wrote in the articles Mammut in the Heidiland and Aim for the moon), as well as from water bottle placed in the holder attached by the Velcro straps to the backpack’s braces. It is a new piece of equipment that I decided to test.

With water, or rather with the lack of it, is no laughing matter on long journeys. After several hours of slow-run in the mountains in hot weather, every sip is at a premium, so the additional supply is very useful. I harnessed stock to the bottom and therefore I can confirm that Add-on bottle holder has proven itself. Additionally, it is lightweight (60 grams) and adjustable, depending on the diameter of the bottle. A small thing, but a nice one.

To see how much happiness,
Hides every little thing.
Let’s rejoice in small things, because
formula for happiness is written in them!
/Sylwia Grzeszczak, Little things/

Truly I say to you, taste of H20 varies depending on the fatigue of the organism and the greater the fatigue, the better the taste.

A rose in red, a lilac in white is blooming,
None of us is cracking though badly it is.
We will cross the hills, we will sip the water,
Where are the field kitchens only God knows.
Who would have worried that dust covers the roads
And snow, and rain – this we know already .
We will cross the hills, we will sip the water,
The water left after the battle has the flavor like wine.
/How I Unleashed World War II/

I reached the Max village and for a while I was running again on the asphalt road leading cars to Lac de Taney (for motorists, let me add that the last section is allowed only for cars with four-wheel drive and the lock of differential, so the cars with so-called intelligent drive 4×4 switchable by computer can not drive there). Behind the chapel at the end of the village I turned right, went back to the wild trail and continue up my tour also towards Lac de Taney but in a much longer version.

The heat was unmerciful… but with Mammut MTR 141 Shorts Long Men I was running at these conditions quite well. Because I will describe the short pants, the matter of what in those short pants is hidden I just clearly describe with below joke:

A guy comes to the doctor and exhibits his penis on doctor’s desk.
The doctor looks up and asks:
- Too short?
- No!
- Too thin?
- No!
- What’s it like?
- It’s great! Isn’t it?!

Shorts are so short that there is not too much to describe. The fabric is a blend of polyamide and elastane. From inside the shorts features mesh. They are sooooo lightweight, they weigh 150 grams (on kitchen weight of my wife does not weight at all) and therefore running is very comfortable. They are breathable, dries quickly and in general very good for me for running. Own feelings in the end are the best adviser when choosing clothes and sports equipment.

I arrived finally to the Lac de Taney from the north east. This charming little lake is located at an altitude of 1408 m above sea level. Close to the lake there is a camping site, a small hamlet of cottages and a restaurant. I ran through the hamlet, by the fountain complemented the supply of water and headed up to the left, traversing the slope. The trail led straight west initially, and after a while, turned slightly to the north and through the Pas de Lovenex reached the Col de la Croix.

Being so high in the mountains, man mutes himself, ponders, wonders about the most important things in life, looking for the absolute… I was bothered only by one thought – why Mammut does not produce socks!? This negligence has repeatedly been spotted and expostulated by my friends, as it was creating a rift in my perfect Mammut image. I have to write to the marketing department in Seon, when this reprehensible situation will change. It would be a great complement to the collection of shoes (trail, alpine and trekking).

Shoes, by the way. The heat was unmerciful… but described some time ago MTR 201 Mammut Pro Low cooperated with me very well. Feet were breathing freely, had no abrasions and adhesion to the substrate was fantastic what turned out particularly useful on the next stage of the expedition.

From the mountain pass, the route led steeply down on the loose stones, towards French border. I ran down to the bottom of the valley and along the cross-border creek of La Morge I reached St-Gingolph.

And the problem appeared here. None bus nor ship were shuttling to Evian at that hour. I did not have strength, nor time to run on the asphalt road together with cars. What could I do? I haven’t had a long gray rain-coat, like Rotger Hauer, only a magnificent orange Mammut t-shirt, so I assumed that I should not raise too much fear as “The Hitcher”. I was right. After about 10 minutes of waving a hand at the oncoming traffic, a car stopped beside me.

Inside a young girl was sitting, dressed…, I would say, boldly. It turned out that she was going to Casino Evian to… work. So, I got into the car. First, politely and briefly I explained whence I appeared on the road, what route today I went through and why do I need transportation. Then, the rest of the way she was speaking. It turned out that she is… a doctor of psychology and along with other graduate students from both psychology and sociology describe the phenomenon of addiction to gambling. Currently, they are visiting different casinos and conducting researches. Her dress turned out to be… a camouflage needed for studies.

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
/Luke 6:37/

We arrived to Evian. The doctor dropped me off at the port, while she went to her “laboratorium” to conduct researches. I entered the ship at 20:45. Sitting during the cruise on the bench at the stern I could quietly enjoy the views. On the larboard side, face of the Sun slowly but inexorably was falling down towards the dark Jura foothills, to hide behind the black peaks exactly at the moment when the ship berthed in the port of Ouchy in Lausanne.

The mist that came from the Mediterranean sea blotted out the city that Pilate so detested.  The suspension bridges connecting the temple with the grim fortress of Antonia vanished, the murk descended from the sky and drowned the winged gods above the hippodrome, the crenellated Hasmonaean palace, the bazaars, the caravanserai, the alleyways, the pools…  Jerusalem, the great city, vanished as though it had never been. The mist devoured everything, frightening every living creature in Jerusalem and its surroundings. The city was engulfed by a strange cloud which had crept over it from the sea towards the end of that day, the fourteenth of the month of Nisan.
/Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita/

 

Mammut Lithium Z 20

Already in a couple of days, a few days
You will take your backpack and the guitar
Few words goodbye
Pythagoras, farewell
Goodbye to you canto, cantare
/Halina Kunicka, Summer, summer is waiting; Polish song/

Basic protection and support of my foot driving force, I described vividly in the first test of sport equipment, means in the article entitled Mammut MTR Pro Low, where the heroes were shoes for running in the terrain.

Since the drive transmission is protected, I can take a closer look at a warehouse facility, in other words at the backpack Mammut Lithium Z 20 (mentioned loosely at the occasion of my aiming for the Moon).

I start with the most important matter, namely the color. The backpack is green-gray (code named dark spring-iron). I like very much these sophisticated color names that are used by Mammut. Just like in the American movie about commandos rescueing the world from the overwhelming forces of the communists, terrorists or aliens (Alpha Romeo Mike Yankee Alpha Lima Papa Hotel Alpha Bravo Echo Tango). On a green fabric red Mammut logo looks fantastic! Backpack Lithium Z 20 can be aquired in two more colors (dark orange-iron and smoke-iron). I like the most version with the green. Over!

All theory, dear friend, is gray,
But the golden tree of life springs ever green.
Grau, teurer Freund, ist al­le Theorie
Und grün des Le­bens gol­dner Baum.
/Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Faust/

It is a backpack designed primarily for trail running but fits to all outdoor activities. It weighs only 630 grams according to the manufacturer. Me, on the kitchen scale (which my wife uses to prepare delicious cakes), came out a little more, because about 670 grams. Its dimensions are 48x26x19 centimeters. Name Lithium in the designers concept comes probably from lithium, which is the lightest metal known, with the atomic number 3. This element is highly reactive and flammable, so must be kept it in mineral oils or in an inert atmosphere. I remember from chemistry class, like a piece of lithium pulled out from the kerosene and thrown into the water was going round on the surface and was dissolving, fuming a huge amount of bubbles (hydrogen).

The zipper of the main compartment unzips below the half the height of the backpack, thanks to that can be easily pack from the front, which certainly would be appreciated by Jason Bourne looking for his identity:

He opened the knapsack and took out a pair of boots and heavy socks along with rolledup trousers and a coarse denim shirt. Somewhere in his past he had learned to pack with an economy of space; the knapsack contained far more than an observer might think. Where had he learned that? Why? The questions never stopped.
/Robert Ludlum, The Bourne Identity/

Backpack is compatible with a hydration system – a water tank with a pipe transferring water to the mouth. From the main backpack chamber, tube can be lead out through the holes on shoulder straps, on the left or on the right side and attached under rubber grips.

The hydration system is a fantastic assistance during long runs when at any time it is possible to drink without stopping and taking off the backpack. It is also important that when you insert the mouthpiece into the mouth, hands are free. The first time I used the hydration system in a backpack Mammut Lithium Z 20 was on Trail du Dents du Midi and as I said, I was delighted.

This backpack has additionally at the top a small pocket with handle with a piton (eg. to attach the keys)…

… and larger one, occupying more or less the entire front wall of the backpack (eg. for documents, maps).

On both sides there are two flexible pockets (eg. for a spare water bottles, glove or cap), which can be further tighten and secured by means of straps.

The suspension system consists of elastic shoulder straps with a soft mesh on the side of the back that dries quickly and allows the body to breathe (3-D Air-Mesh). From the outside, shoulder straps are reinforced with nylon mesh. As I said, on shoulder straps there are elastics sewn to attach the hydration tube, as well as reflective elements. Chest strap with a clip and whistle can be adjusted up and down, and of course wide. It prevents the shoulder straps from sliding sideways and prevents repositioning of the backpack during the run.

Innovative hip belt (designed for direct body contact and good ventilation) has the same role and also relieves the shoulders (weight, thanks to it is based largely on the hips). It is also made from 3-D Air-Mesh and on its left side is another pocket. In my opinion, the pocket is too much on the back and during the race it is hard to reach (eg. the phone, which is a mandatory equipment part in long distance mountain running). It is the only minus I have found in this backpack and I believe that the company Mammut will take to heart my constructive criticism and will make a slight facelifting. I hope that in the next version of the backpack Lithium Z 20, pocket will be more accessible, which means shifted toward the front. Could also add, by the way, another one, for symmetry – the ideal storage for a little something at eleven o’clock in the morning…

On the back side of the backpack being in contact with the back, there are soft mesh padding supports (made from 3-D EVA foam) with ventilation channels and between them “a chimney” allowing air circulation.

This backpack for my own needs is perfect. It stick to the back ideally, it is very comfortable, does not cause abrasions and allows back to breathe. And, of course, it is green.

The Blue said: Waste of breath.
Everybode will discolor with time.
But the Green just added:
– I hope… I hope…
/Jan Brzechwa, The Colors/

It ran with me already some kilometers, therefore I know what I write. What is more, my previous trail backpack from another company was not so comfortable and slightly rubbed the skin (seams were made from something that looked like a fishing line and in places where this line jutted from the fabric, it made a fakir from me).

I highly recommend the use of poles during long mountain runs. They help to maintain balance, relieve the knees and can lean on them, when majority of the race is done and legs barely dragging one by one. But the poles are not needed all the time and then it would be nice to have a place for their transportation. In my green backpack…

Because I am liege lord, because I am king,
Among green fields and soil!
/Edmund Wasilewski, Krakowiak/

…it is resolved in a very interesting way. At the bottom part of the backpack there is a retractable metal cable which can be pull out and slip back. One end of a pole is to be insert into the cable and the other is fastened on top of the backpack with a strip closing.
Theoretically to this backpack can be still attached various items which are considered to be necessary during competition, training or trip (eg. cup). This is done with 4 very strong hooks on the front of the pack and 2 on shoulder straps.

In practice, the extra things dangling by a backpack during the competition only disturb the balance and cause unnecessary noise but on a calm trip with the family or friends it is possible to hang there all Needful Things.

MTR 201 Pro Low

Mammut MTR 201 Pro Low

Recently I was writing less and running more, what has resulted from the task I undertook – I can proudly say that I was running and… testing. Testing is a new matter for me and the challenge is even greater because I have chosen as the test object, running shoes of my beloved Mammut (sorry for that intimate statement). Love is a beautiful feeling but it becomes even more beautiful, when has been tested in extreme conditions.

Love is a very beautiful flower but you have to have the courage to go look for it at the edge of an abyss.
/Henri Stendhal/

znak

As it is usually happens with… the first time, I wanted to approach it in a special way. I was thinking long how to perform such a test in order to show in subjective and at the same time objective manner all the characteristics of mountain racing shoes Mammut MTR 201 Pro Low. I thought, and I came up with – the best to do it is my own way.

***

Shoes Mammut Pro Low MTR 201 appeared in my life in a black box with a red Mammut logo. They were additionally wrapped in original paper covered with the inscriptions MAMMUT. For running it does not have any meaning, of course, but it testifies to the quality of a product. Swiss watches have also couple of layers of packaging, through which you have to get through before the moment of putting the watch on the wrist. Out of the box and paper I quickly put shoes on my feet and went for a run… Oh, and I cut labels.

Alas, that love, whose view is muffled still,
Should, without eyes, see pathways to his will.
/William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet/

Just in case, I remind that the first run in new shoes should be short to avoid abrasions and blisters that often occur when changing running shoes to new ones. Is it due to the short 10 kilometers distance or maybe due to the resistance of my graceful feet or finally maybe thanks to the quality of shoes, nothing bad happened, and the first attempt was successfull.

It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.
/Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita/

But one after another. Tested model has rave green-red color with a technical name spring-inferno; other available colors are inferno-black, dark cyan-sunglow and light gray-imperial. Shoes weigh 742 grams (UK size 10.5) what probably fits in with the manufacturer’s data, who declares 676 grams in specifications for UK size 8.5.

DSC_5493

MTR 201 Pro Low are not waterproof, which can be a disadvantage when running in the rain, but thanks to that are lighter than models with GORE-TEX (they have an additional three letters GTX in the name) with more than 100 grams, which in turn can be important in long-distance races, when at the end of the route, each additional gram is felt in the legs. Instead of heavier waterproof membrane in this model was used lightweight mesh that dries quickly when soaked and allows feet to breathe.

Mokry-Mammut

I was running a lot on wet, muddy roads, in the rain, and after the rain, near rivers and streams. The mesh get drenched quickly, but… as soon as the contact with water ends, it begins to dry quickly and if I am lucky enough that eventually the sun comes out, I return home with dry shoes. In addition, the lightweight mesh construction has good permeability and draws heat away from the feet. Why this happens is seen sharply when looking “through the shoe” against the light.

There should be laughter after pain There should be sunshine after rain /Mark Knopfler, Why Worry/

There should be laughter after pain
There should be sunshine after rain
/Mark Knopfler, Why Worry/

Fabrics used inside the shoe are soft to the touch and cause the foot feels comfortable. Outside, in contrast, in sensitive areas rubber reinforcements were used (Rubber toe cap) and heel support system (360 Heel Support). As described by Viktor Suvorov, the former soldier of Specnaz (Soviet special forces), in the book “Aquarium”, materials used in commando’s clothing should be from the lining side soft like woman’s skin, and from the outside rough as leather of rhinoceros. Mammut MTR 201 Pro Low shoes meet these requirements.

Mokry-Mammut-2

Now disputable case of laces or rather MTR Speed Lace System, which may but not have to please. As the name suggests, thanks to this system shoes can be quicker laced. With that point, I totally agree – this is done instantly. But then, the remaining “excess” of laces needs to be hidden somewhere. To do so, a special pocket in the shoe tongue is prepared but because it is already located under tied laces, it’s hard to pack the endings. But when it’s done, they seat there and not fall out. If needed, the laces can also be… just laced.

Aggressive bi-directional tread pattern holds up well (I would even say perfectly) on almost all types of surface. Mammut gave it the code name Sonar, because his form was modeled on the shape of sonar waves, spreading in all directions; in other words… “The hunt for Red October”. I tested it on a muddy forest trails, sharp mountain boulders, gravel paths, and even in the snow.

DSC_5126

In bounce, as well as in acceleration and uphill running, shoes stick to the pavement as if they were glued. They behave the same way during the rapid run downwards combined even with jumps and provide excellent friction when braking in case slowing down is needed. There is almost no slip when landing on loose gravel and can quickly run further.

poslizg

The only one dangerous adventure associated with shoes Mammut Pro Low MTR 201 I experienced on the banks of the river La Venoge. It was a one-off case, but it is my duty to inform about it. It is like with the side effects of medication – one patient out of a hundred will report pimples on… but it is necessary to write in the information leaflet that the medicine can cause a rash. Thus, I was running a beautiful route along the river La Venoge, to the north of its confluence to Lake Geneva in Preverenges. I was running and admiring the wild countryside, additionally wilder due to high water level in the river.

2015-04-01-15.15.23

Was drizzling lightly. Suddenly, when I was looking to the side of the impressive waterfall, I ran on flat wet stones lying just off the coast and started dancing like mad cartoon characters who step on a banana peel. And, like cartoon characters, I was able to regain balance at the last moment. I was so surprised by the complete lack of grip, that I turned back and looked at the stones. They were, as I said, flat and covered with a green coating (moss?). I touched them with the shoe a few times and it was like on the ice rink. I went back to the same place some time later during fine weather and with some kind of shyness I ran on the rocks. This time they were dry and my feet have not moved even a millimeter. From this adventure I extrapolated such a request, that a wet moss on the stones is not a good ground for Mammut MTR 201 Pro Low shoes (for each shoes, I suppose).

To sum up, shoes Mammut Pro Low MTR 201 perform the job very well. The legs do not tire in them, adhesion to the substrate (except wet moss) is sensational, dry quickly, allow the foot to breathe and… they are pretty. It seems that we will run together for a very loooong time, especially that Swiss Irontrail (91 km) is approaching.

Love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction.
/Antoine de Saint-Exupéry/

P.S. On the back of the shoe, on the handle helping to put them on the leg, there is a mysterious latitude and longitude… My natural curiosity forced me to check which point on the surface of the Earth represent the coordinates of 47 36° N and 08 16° E. I had to first understand in what format latitude and longitude is given:

  • degrees, minutes, seconds (DMS),
  • degrees and minutes (DM),
  • decimal degrees (DD).

After attempts in the converter of geographic coordinates, I came at last to the result, which indicated a point in Switzerland, in the canton of Aargau, in the district of Lenzburg in city of Seon, at Birren street, where exists… the factory and headquarter of Mammut. A real fantastic bull’s eye!

Wspolrzedne

Księżyc i limba

Aim for the moon

Aim for the moon, because even if you miss, you will be among the stars.
/Patrick Süskind, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer/

This quote is obviously not astronomically correct, because if you pass the moon, to the nearest star (not counting the Sun), will be still about 40 billion kilometers. However, it captures the spirit of adventure, exploration and constant trying…

Continuing my interest in mountain running, I took part in the Trail Dents du Midi, this time on a distance of 57 km. Before I will describe my adventures on the race, I have to mention that this time I was not in the “gray mass” of runners in the middle of the field, but I was the only one of its kind – I was the last one! Despite the fact that I rather missed the Moon, the joy of the completion of the race within the time limit was like landing among the stars.

Start was located in Champéry at 1050 meters above sea level. After receiving the start number, after the required control of equipment (torch, water supply, cup, thermal foil, hooded jacket, whistle) and briefing, I aligned on the starting line. It was still dark and the light was definitely needed. Starting time for amateur runners was set for 6:00 a.m. The gun fired and we moved on. Running through Rue Centrale due south we left the town.

And here is the interesting fact. The torch illuminated the darkness so that I remembered that I have been here a long time ago, when my younger daughter still rode in the pram. The route Le chemin des poussettes was quiet and safe idea for a nice family walk in the nature. Distance from Champéry to Grand-Paradis is about 2 km of gentle paths through the forest. On the spot there are great views to the majestic peaks of Dents du Midi and the possibility of dining in a covered place for a picnic. Return to Champéry by the same route.

A view to the massif of Dents du Midi from Grand-Paradis

A view to the massif of Dents du Midi from Grand-Paradis

This time I did not see the peaks and to the finish line in Champéry I still had about 55 kilometers through the mountains.

From Grand-Paradis I ran lightly up the valley, through the Forêt de la Lui, up to a height of 1200 meters. Here the climbing began by the slope of the Dent de Rossétan to a height of about 1600 meters. Then, there was more or less flat terrain, suitable for running and rippling peacefully in the range of 400 meters up and down.

“To the dawn, dears to the dawn! The sun is coming inexorably from above the Pacific” /fragment from Polish song by Jan Pietrzak/

“To the dawn, dears to the dawn! The sun is coming inexorably from above the Pacific” /fragment from Polish song by Jan Pietrzak/

It started to get light about 7:30 a.m. and soon the rising sun illuminated the mountain peaks.

Cool dawn in the mountains

Cool dawn in the mountains

Gilded sun peaks
Are already burning rosy overhead
And blue sky shines cheerful
Over bent rock crown.

In the bottom – forests hidden in the shadow
Drown yet in the frosted mist
Which in the morning light
Speeding up slowly by gorges.

Mist in the valley

Mist in the valley

But now the breeze dispel the mist,
And it tears into the cloud sherds…
Like a spider’s soft yarn
Settles on the rocks edges.

And form under this grey-blue veil
The world looks more widely,
From the night, peaceful dreams awakened,
Such bright, fragrant, fresh.
/Adam Asnyk, Morning in the mountains/

The first checkpoint was at the foot of the Haute Cime, which is the highest “tooth” (3,257 m asl) in the group of seven peaks of Dents du Midi. Then a long section of several kilometres around the height of 2,000 meters, up to Signal de Soi, which was the first nutrition point (stocked like a 5 star hotel – bread, cheese, chocolate, fruits, tea, Coca-Cola, water).

Energized, I moved forward and continued enjoying the path rising and falling gently, still on the north side of the “teeth”.

Grandma, why you have such big teeth?

Grandma, why you have such big teeth?

From Chindonne (1604 m asl) a steep downslope toVérossaz (811 m asl) began. In this village there was a change of runners in the relay race. Myself, not boasting about, also the second half ofthe route planned to overcome personally. First, however, I ate something and rested a bit.

Around 11:30 a.m. I departed for further journey and after five minutes overtookme the first of the professional athletes, who started the run at 9:00 am, means three hours after me!

For a long time I ran roughly at an altitude of 1100 – 1200 meters, encircling the massif of Dents du Midi and heading more and more to the south.

Break on Through (To the Other Side)

Break on Through (To the Other Side)

I ran across Mex and further by the dam (where was another checkpoint), I got across to the other side of the Torrent de St. Barthélemy creek. Here, at an altitude of 1182 meters above sea level, I began the arduous climb, which ended only over a kilometre above, on the Col du Jorat (2323 m asl).

In the Dark Spruce Forest’s rock goaf,
Where peacock colour ponds lie dormant,
The bush of wild rose its bloody crimson
Throws on spots of grey quarry.

At its foot lush grasses grow,
Aside the crag slippery rises,
Mountain pine tangled
Embroidered stone benches…

Lonely, sleepy, pensive,
Cuddles temple to the cold wall,
As though it afraid the breath of the storm.
Silence… The wind doesn’t jog the leaves,

And just rotting stone pine
Rests next to arosebush.
/Jan Kasprowicz, The bush of wild rose in the Dark Spruce Forest/

I must also mention that this timeI took with me the poles and it was a very good decision. Indeed, it is a big relief for the feet and on such a long route with so many hilly climbs, simply indispensable piece of equipment.

During the run down on the other side of the pass, the weather suddenly broke down and to the shelter at the lake Lac de Salanfe (1942 m) I came in the heavy rain. Fortunately, there was another nutrition point. I was welcomed with bread, cheese,dried ham and hot tea. I also completed the supply of water in the tank in my backpack Mammut Lithium Z 20, from which I occasionally have been drinking, through a tube without interrupting the run. It also turned out to bea a fantastic solution. As you can see, I drew conclusions from the mistakes committed in the previous race in Davos. But I made new ones: I hadn’t watch with GPS, so I couldn’t monitor the distance travelled and I hadn’t cloth for glasses, which were flooded with a sweat every now and again.

– Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?
– I’ll warrant you’ll make plenty in it – said Marilla. – I never saw your beat for making mistakes, Anne.
– Yes, and well I know it – admitted Anne mournfully. – But have you ever noticed one encouraging thing about me, Marilla? I never make the same mistake twice.
– I don’t know as that’s much benefit when you’re always making new ones.
– Oh, don’t you see, Marilla? There must be a limit to the mistakes one person can make, and when I get to the end of them, then I’ll be through with them. That’s a very comforting thought.
/Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables/

The rain had stopped and from behind the clouds beautiful sun came out. I was now exactly on the south side of Dents du Midi, which from this perspective looked even more menacing and mysterious. Initially I ran off the shore of the lake and then bounced to the right and through the lunar landscape I have begun another climb.

This one was, however, a bit different from the previous ones, because at some point the route led over 200 meter high cliffs. Chains railings helped somewhat climbing higher, but previous efforts and respect for falling down few hundred meters, intensified tremors of legs muscle when stuck to the rock walls I was passing over the chasms.

High on the rocks frame
Stone pine her needle crown
Suspended above dark depths,
Where fliesthe foamed water.

Grows lonely on a rock,
Almostthe lastfrom the tribe…
And does not care that simmering waves
Undercut rock from the bottom.

With the mourning full of dignity
Declines over a cliff
And sees at the bottom
A crowd of low-growing spruce.

These easily emerging dwarfs,
Walking in compressed row,
Displaced her from ancient premises
Into the land of eternal snow.

Let a rampant newcomers
Continue crawling all over again!
She sways in the clouds -
And has free sky overhead!

She will never lower to them,
Will not struggle for life -
Still only rises above
On the sloping edges of rocks.

Looks contemptuously from summit
On the triumph of horizontal crowd…
She prefers alone from sky-blue
To plummet crashed by the thunders.
/Adam Asnyk, Stone pine/

Through the Colde Susanfe (2494) and another checkpoint, I get into an impressive Susanfe valley, leading down towards Champery.

Frazzled Mammut

Frazzled Mammut

It started to get dark, and to the target there was still far away, which is why the organizers have set more checkpoints on this section of the run. Well done, a fantastic organization. So, through Cabane de Susanfe (2102), Pas d’Encel (1808) and Bonavau (1550) I returned to the Grand-Paradis, where at dawn, also in the dark and with the torch turned on, I have been overcoming first kilometers of run. The circle has been closed, the serpent Ouroboros ate its own tail but I still had about 2 kilometers to the finish. I already knew that I will fit within the time limit, so there was no panic. Shuffling, I have been systematically approaching Champéry

I crossed the finish line as the last one, 17 ​​minutes before the designated time limit, beating 57 kilometers and 4733 meters of positive height difference.

Man is incapable not being capable of anything.
/Waldemar Lysiak, The Conquest/

Swiss Iron Trail Finisher

Mammut in the Heidiland

Consistency of behavior with the presented vision is one of the most important factors in business. It is not well perceived by the public and legislators, when a company says that it does not advertise its products among minors while sponsoring the concert, of which the audience is mostly teenagers. But that’s another story. I decided to show that in the real world I’m consistent with what I write on the blog and I took part in the mountain run aptly named “Swiss Irontrail”, and whose main sponsor was the company… Mammut.

This time I went to the east where, as Jerzy Stuhr stated in the movie “Sexmission”, “must be some kind of civilization”. He meant of course The Soviet Union. I landed on the eastern edge of Switzerland, in the Canton of Grisons, in Davos, which hosts the annual World Economic Forum. However, with reference to the aforementioned Soviet Union, I have to add, that a frequent visitor to this resort is a former member of the Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR) and minister in the socialist government, Aleksander Kwasniewski. This behavior did not have consistency at all – eulogist and activist of socialism fell in love with one of the most luxurious resorts in the world (the symbol of rotten capitalism).

Well, we are chit-chatting here but there is a time to start having fun.

From the old and pleasantly situated village of Mayenfeld, a footpath winds through green and shady meadows to the foot of the mountains, which on this side look down from their stern and lofty heights upon the valley below. The land grows gradually wilder as the path ascends, and the climber has not gone far before he begins to inhale the fragrance of the short grass and sturdy mountain-plants, for the way is steep and leads directly up to the summits above.
/Johanna Spyri, Heidi/

Start for the 42.7 kilometers had its beginning in Lenzerheide at an altitude of about 1500 m above sea level. Firstly, 4 kilometers warm-up around the lake Heidsee and then sharply up to 2000 m. After about 15 kilometers, at an altitude of over 2500 meters there was first regeneration point in the cable car station. Then calmly down by the broad road, which in winter is the ski slope and re-climbing to the highest point of the trail, which was Weisshorn peak with the height of 2653 m above sea level.

On Alpine route

On Alpine route

Almost at the end of the climb, when I ran from behind the rocks, I saw a tall man in a black coat standing close to my path. When I ran closer, I saw that he has leaned on the valyrian steel sword – then I recognised him. Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, pointed with a blade to the summit, said, “winter is coming,” and vanished in the first flakes of snow. With this warning obtained in the last minute, I quickly put on the hood of my green Mammut DRYTECH Premium jacket and with confidence came to the top.

Winter is coming

Winter is coming

There was a snowstorm raging there. Thick snowflakes were whirling in a mad dance and coated the glasses, the wind howled like a bunshee and on the limit of visibility, mysterious characters with blue eyes were running around. Fortunately, the storm did not last longer than 10 minutes, and after a moment beautiful sun looked out from beyond the clouds. I run down in the sunrays through the Rainbow Bridge to Arosa.

Rainbow Bridge Bifrost - the only way to Asgard

Rainbow Bridge Bifrost – the only way to Asgard

There, in the atomic shelter I ate pasta with bolognese sauce and drank Coca-Cola. After about 20 minutes I moved on. Initially down, which did not bother so much to digest, and then up through alpine meadows where alpine cows grazed.

Swiss cows

Swiss cows

Fatigue gave itself felt. I knew that for the next course I will take poles which relieve foot and help climbing. Also, in terms of fluid intake, I had  bottles with water in my backpack, which turned out not to be very convenient, because each time I had to pull off the backpack, draw the bottle, unscrew and drink. So another learning resulting from the practice – for next time – backpack with water tank and tube. Meanwhile, it was necessary to support differently to run further forward, gain new meters and kilometers. It reminded me then very instructive joke, just in a topic of gaining kilometers:

Young camel asks his dad:
- Daddy, why gazelles have such beautiful and graceful hoofs, and we have such a big splayed hooves?
- You see my son, our hooves are adapted to to go thousands of kilometers through the desert, shuffle step by step, constantly forward and not sink into the sand.
- Aha. And why antelopes have such a smooth and shiny coat, and we have awful hanging lints?
- You see my son, our skin is adapted to to go thousands of kilometers through the desert, still forward, where during the day is extremely hot and at  the night the temperature drops below zero.
- Aha. And why zebras have such a beautiful and graceful line back, and we have such terrible humps?
- You see my son, our humps are necessary for this to go thousands of kilometers through the desert, still ahead, and when other animals have to die of hunger, we can go further by taking food from our humps.
- Aha. But why do we need it all, as we though live in the zoo?

The last, short stop was in Jatz, after 35 kilometers, at the height of 1831 m above sea level and then 500 meters up on a distance of 2 km. After reaching the Strelapass, where there was a checkpoint, it has been only the long descent to Davos.

Strelapass

Strelapass

In Davos, at the finish line my family was waiting for me and also the remnants of fans who were still not bored, despite the fact that they were greeting the winners of the trail more than five hours earlier. At the end of the run through Grisons could not miss Heidi, the honorary resident of the canton.

Mammut already after the the run and Heidi

Mammut already after the the run and Heidi

Heidi ran to the far edge of the slope and continued to wave her hand to Clara until the last glimpse of horse and rider had disappeared.
/Johanna Spyri, Heidi/

Castelmola błyszczy jeszcze wyżej...

Castelmola glitters even highier…

After warming up on Corso Umberto I departed outside the city. Running around Taormina was a wild pleasure, and not just figuratively, but literally. Within a week, I visited many interesting places, but I have not met too many people. In contrary, the animals were with me at every step.

"It exists somewhere, but nobody knows where. The world in which this fairy tale is happening..." /fragment of intro song from children's cartoon "Maya the Bee"/

“It exists somewhere, but nobody knows where. The world in which this fairy tale is happening…” /fragment of intro song from children’s cartoon “Maya the Bee”/

My Sicilian cross-country trails I always began with the dawn, that later, during normal business hours explore the city, the Greek theater and other tourist attractions together with family and friends. “When the morning auroras have arisen“, I was leaving the Residence Schuler on Piazza Padre Pio and by Via Otto Geleng I was running up to the intersection with Vico Tauro.

It seems that the cult of Padre Pio is very much alive in Sicily, because in each of the visited churches I saw a painting or a sculpture of his likeness. On the square of Padre Pio there was of course his monument. For Poles, particularly interesting are his relationships with Karol Wojtyła. As results from preserved correspondence and witnesses accounts, Padre Pio knew that young Polish priest in the future will become the Pope. When stigmatic from San Giovanni Rotondo received from Karol Wojtyla a letter of request to pray for the cancer patient Wanda Półtawska, the mother of four children, he said him we cannot refuse”. After a week, she inexplicably recovered. After receiving a second letter from Wojtyła, this time with thanks for his prayers, Father Pio told to his secretary to keep both letters, because one day they will be “very important”

Father Pio

Father Pio

Being still faithful to the principle “teaching through playing”, I have to mention how the street I was running and walking each day got its name. Otto Geleng was a German painter, specializing in the creation of landscapes. He moved from Berlin to Taormina searching for landscapes for his paintings and hit in a perfect location. He began to paint everything what Taormina could offer – sea, mountains, ruins and snow-covered Mount Etna, none of which was known to the public in European cities. When his paintings were shown at exhibitions in Berlin and Paris, many critics accused him of “active imagination”. Then the young artist took offence (we know already this behavior) and invited doubters to Taormina, promising that he will pay all costs if these magical views are not true. Landscapes appeared to be true and critics were impressed by the city. Otto turned out to be a good entrepreneur and visionary. After the reactions of his colleagues, he sensed the oncoming wave of interest in the region and founded the first hotel in the city, becoming the forerunner of tourism in Taormina.

 

Otto Geleng, Taormina, 1872

Otto Geleng, Taormina, 1872

Returning to the run. From the intersection I head up by the stone steps between the houses to the road SP10 otherwise known as Rotabile Castelmola.

Castelo Saraceno and Castelmola

Castelo Saraceno and Castelmola

Later through two pedestrian crossings to the next stairways. I run up those stairways to the “hairpin bend” of aforementioned road SP10. This street leads with such zigzags to Castelmola which was destination of my run. However, I resigned from inhalation of fumes from many Vespa scooters speeding up the hill – this pleasure I leave myself for “Roman Holiday” – and I have chosen the route for pedestrians.

"Roman Holiday"

“Roman Holiday”

White signpost with the inscription Castelmola signalizes a narrow road guides to the left, where I run into. After about 70 meters I pass small street leading to the left to some property and after another 70 meters I run onto the stone steps departing right up from the road. They are marked Castelmola Porta dei Saraceni 902 D.C. on the yellow board. From this point begins the trail which is beautiful, wild and… neglected.

Somewhere there is a path

Somewhere there is a path

Among the stone steps grows the grass and wooden railings are broken. It can be seen that the heyday of this boardwalk is long behind it. Nevertheless, I climb this way up the slope of the hill on which stands Castelmola. I have to be very careful and watch my steps, because from time to time even sunken surface happens and it would not be safe to fall in roadside thicket. The route through the woods, in the north-west, ends up after a while and run out into the open area under a large rock on the right side of the path. After about 100 meters I run through the ruins of the gate through which in the year 902 Emir Ibrahim Ahmed stepped in to Taormina, the last Byzantine stronghold in Sicily and destroyed the city.

Porta dei Saraceni

Porta dei Saraceni

Arabs used the weakness of the Byzantine Empire and from 7th century were organizing attacks on the southern coast of Sicily, which were continued without much success in next centuries. In the year 827 landed in Mazara with more than 10 thousand warriors, with the specific aim to get the whole island. Taormina, with its location long resisted the attacks of invaders, until the Emir entered the city from the north, through the Cuseni Gate, then called Saracen Gate (Porta dei Saraceni), to remember this tragic event. The city was plundered and destroyed, the inhabitants murdered and only young girls were spared, but… sent to harems in Baghdad.

Path leads from the gate “west by southwest”. On the road there is gravel from minor volcanic rocks which hurts shoes with its sharp edges. After 90 meters, the path follows the north, in the direction of Castelmola and climbing with zigzags up the slope. From time to time accompany me nice but destroyed lanterns, imitating the style of “Belle Epoque”.

Railing for renovation to be paid by Swiss Confederation

Railing for renovation to be paid by Swiss Confederation

I run further up the hill, ignoring the technical difficulties, and even enjoying the situation that I’m alone and not barging into other people like in Tatra Mountains, where even climbing Rysy, the highest peak in Poland (2499 m), I have to stand in a queue.

"I am the Lizard King I can do anything"

“I am the Lizard King I can do anything”

At the end of climbing to Castelmola, there is more vegetation again. After a moment, small path leaves down to the right and leads to the chapel Chiesa San Biagio from I century.

There's still time to change the road you're on

There’s still time to change the road you’re on

Chiesa San Biagio

Chiesa San Biagio

In the summary, the route heyday is behind us and definitely could use its renovation. I’m sure, that when Sardinia will join the Swiss Confederation as 27 Canton (Canton Marittimo), Sicily will take after it and funding of tourism will be one of the main points of the investment plan for the overseas dominions of Switzerland.

Into Castelmola I run from the south through of Via Luigi Pirandello. Now it is important to improvise, because the amount of narrow and winding streets is so large to keep the exact route. To follow exactly my way could be stressful and stress should be avoided. Generally, need to head up, to the north-north-east until the big square and the observation deck. With curiosity, I climb up to the castle and… I found the gate closed for renovations.

From the observation deck I run down by already known road SP10 and after about 100 meters I turned right, down the stairs to the parking lot leading to the boardwalk descending with zigzags down towards Taormina. Following this route I run again (phew!) to the road SP10. For a moment, I’m running down the street and after 250 meters, turned left diagonally, in Via Madonna Rocca leading up the hill to the Sanctuary of Our Lady on the Rock.

Santuario Madonna della Rocca

Santuario Madonna della Rocca

I would not be myself if I did not run even higher, to Castello Saraceno through the destroyed stairs no longer protected even with broken railings. And here again, unfortunately unpleasant surprise – closed for refurbishment. Switzerland, please come!

So, I went back to the shrine and started running down the Way of the Cross (passione strada), from which a beautiful view of the bay and Piazza IX Aprile expands.

A view to Piazza IX Aprile from Santuario Madonna della Rocca

A view to Piazza IX Aprile from Santuario Madonna della Rocca

After a few minutes I found myself in the center of Taormina and again on… Corso Umberto – is this enchantment? Actually, it is a good idea and I will buy a few lemons for tea…

Sicilian lemon

Sicilian lemon

Taormina błyszczy w górze

Taormina glitters overhead

As other great artists, actors, celebrities and writers, I came to Taormina to to admire wonderful nature, architecture and atmosphere of elegance and good style. Contrary to them, I had however another purpose – running uphill.

On the perpendicular cliff,
On the rock-cut marble,
Over deep blue seas mirror
Taormina glitters overhead.
/Adam Asnyk, Taormina/

Taormina, known as the “pearl of Sicily”, is one of the most visited cities of the island. The city is situated on the slopes of The Peloritani mountains (Monti Peloritani), on top of the hill of Monte Tauro. Below stretches the Ionian Sea, which separates the island from Greece, from where originate the first colonizers of Sicily.

Reversed toward the east
Looking deep into the Ionian Sea,
Catches the first gleams of dawn,
Which Greeks aurora sends.
/Adam Asnyk, Taormina/

Hellenic aurora (although it is Calabria on the horizon)

Hellenic aurora (although it is Calabria on the horizon)

Due to its strategic location in the center of the Mediterranean, the island was exposed to attacks from the Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans and Arabs. Also, the Spaniards and the French fought to subjugate Sicily. Today, the remains of the architecture of each of the conquerors represent a unique attractiveness of the place.

This is the greatest work of art and nature!
/Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Italian Journey/

The most famous and oldest monument of Taormina are the ruins of Greek Theater (teatro greco). It is the second largest facility of its kind in Sicily, after the theater in Syracuse. It was carved in the rocky slope in the third century BC, utilizing the natural landform.

On the blue paintings
Dreams of days gone by:
Raised on her wing
Greek theater sat on guard.
/Adam Asnyk, Taormina/

Greek theater from the path to Santuario Madonna della Rocca

Greek theater from the path to Santuario Madonna della Rocca

Although he was later rebuilt by the Romans and used for gladiatorial combat, its layout is consistent with the canons of Greek architecture. It has a central square (orchestra), audience (theatron) and stage (skene). From the preserved fragments of decoration can be assumed that the theater was built in the Corinthian order – the heads of the columns were shaped as basket formed of two rows of acanthus leaves.

Corinthian columns in Greek Theater in Taormina

Corinthian columns in Greek Theater in Taormina

The head of the column shaped as basket formed of two rows of acanthus leaves

The head of the column shaped as basket formed of two rows of acanthus leaves

Because acanthus growing in Sicily, for the first time I could actually see spiritus movens of one of the basic architectural orders.

Acanthus in the natural environment

Acanthus in the natural environment

By the way, I could practice my financial skills and check the income statement of the theater, which is presented in a small museum in the area of the monument. After a thorough audit, I found that the theater was probably the laundry of dirty money, as additional millions of drachmas passed through it from an ancient (oldest?) organization named “Daughters of Corinth”…

Ancient accounting

Ancient accounting

Finally, let me add that the theater is fantastically located and uses the sky, the surrounding hills and snowy silhouette of Mount Etna, as the natural scenery. Ancient building has retained to this day excellent acoustics and provides the perfect backdrop for cultural events. Today, the theater hosts concerts, performances and festivals. The most famous event is the “Taormina Filmfest”, the oldest film festival in Italy. The first event took place in 1955, and in 1971, has been permanently moved to Taormina. Over the years hosted many stars of world cinema, including Elizabeth Taylor, Marlene Dietrich, Sophia Loren, Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck and Matt Dillon playing Hank Chinaski, the alter-ego of the cult writer Charles Bukowski in the film “Factotum”.

Life’s as kind as you let it be.
/Charles Bukowski/

Sorry, I had to write though about running. And for running the time will come, I promise. However I am convinced, that some information about “such beautiful circumstances of the nature… and unique” must be given.

So the next item on the agenda is a public park (Villa Comunale), where you can admire the colorful Mediterranean vegetation and English garden, designed by Florence Trevelyan, a cousin of Queen Victoria, who lived in Taormina at the end of the nineteenth century. Garden is located on the terrace of rock below the Greek Theatre. In the park there are Mediterranean plants, hedges, flower beds and paths with views of the sea, mountains and of course Mount Etna.

A view to Etna from city park

A view to Etna from city park

Most tourists run in the shops on the main street, Corso Umberto. It is indeed a nice activity, but you can spend more time (and money) than to complete the marathon.

Marathon on Corso Umberto

Marathon on Corso Umberto

From the north and from the south the city is closed by the gates. Porta Messina is the northern entrance, and the southern entrance is Porta Catania. Between them leads Corso Umberto, which is the axis of the city. About half the length of the Corso at Piazza IX Aprile stands the third gate – Porta di Mezzo, also known as the Clock Tower. The square offers another breathtaking view towards Mount Etna.

When I hear the word Taormina, I see with the eyes of imagination a high hill, low spread silky sea, Mount Etna melting in the sun like a crystal and finally, the whole magical scenery of the Greco-Roman theater. It is the only such scenery in the world.
/Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz, The book about Sicily/

Corso Umberto is closed for car traffic, so it is safe to visit shops, restaurants, bars, cafes and hang out nicely. I, along with my family and friends, was hanging out very nicely, among others in Gambero Rosso on Via Naumachie 11, cross-street of Corso Umberto.

We were delighting there in magnificient, tasty Italian cuisine together with well-chosen wine and appreciated committed and efficient service. This combination caused that we were visiting this place still few times during our stay in Taormina.

In Gambero Rosso

In Gambero Rosso

Wandering about Corso Umberto brought another positive effect. We met and became friends with the owner of the travel agency SAT (Sicilian Airbus Travel), who pointed us interesting places and events in Taormina and offered a large discount on tours in the area, among other things, to Mount Etna, Siracusa and to Baroque town of Noto.

Trip planning (observant will notice a photo of Audrey Hepburn visiting Taormina)

Trip planning (observant will notice a photo of Audrey Hepburn visiting Taormina)

With her advise we participated in the traditional Easter procession held on Good Friday. The route goes, as you probably guessed, via Corso Umberto. Men and women dressed in black bear sculpture showing the Passion of Christ and among them go children just after First Communion in white clothes. Street and shops lightings are switched off and only the candles of procession participants give a dim light on the unfolding events.

Our guide Giovanna in different role

Our guide Giovanna in different role

As soon as the procession ends, the owners of the shops switch on the lights again and go back to doing business.

So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.
/Mt 22, 15-21/

That’s all in the context of prelude. In the next article there will be much more about running…

The cave

Exit from the cave

I have not written.

I admit that I have not written for quite a while but so much important and interesting things have happen that I decided to take care of them and go back to writing at a convenient time because, as Sophocles said:

Every thing is good in its time.

I found a new job. My younger daughter wrote in a school elaboration to celebrate Father’s Day that “dad is doing something for the toilet”.

Daddy does something for toillets

Daddy does something for toillets

There is a lot of truth in it, because one of the products of my new company is a Toilet Duck. Not about product, however, I will be writing after such a long break, not about the components and not about the machines, but about the people and the atmosphere at work. People are the most valuable asset of any company.

Bang, bang, thud, thud, viva president of our club.
/“Teddy Bear”, a 1980 cult Polish film directed by Stanisław Bareja/

As you already know very well, I spent 17 years in one company and did not know that outside the cave there is another world. I saw only the shadows projected on the wall. The real world, the real things were beyond the reach of my sight.

I have been however released and left outside.

The Choice is Yours (SMOKING FORBIDDEN)

The Choice is Yours (SMOKING FORBIDDEN)

At first moment I was surprised and then I got the idea to start writing a blog.

Nature hates emptiness.
/Aristotle/

From books but now also from own experience, I know that it is good to do something in a situation like loss of a job. Here in Switzerland, what could look impossible, unemployment impacts more and more people, therefore it is good to have an idea or project  which will help to focus, relax and find new challenges.

It was interesting  looking for space on server, searching programs for blogging and finally write, especially write about things which are beloved.

I have chosen subject  about running. Fashionable and very pleasant subject but difficult to go through to first places in rankings. That was not the objective (for the time being). During the breaks in writing CV, motivation letters and sending them to  different enterprises, I had a moment to write about pleasures.

Finally blog appeared as fantastic, soft transition from old work, unemployment and new company. In the meantime I have visited magnificent city of Taormina on Sicily, have trained running up hill to Castelmola and Monte Venere and driven up by jeep to the top of Etna. It was so wonderful, therefore I will write about it in separate post.

Etna and Altocumulus lenticularis

Etna and Altocumulus lenticularis

The day after the return from Sicily I have started new job.

I have found it relatively quick for the current Swiss conditions and full of energy I moved to learn new things, new naming convention and products to cost. Of course constant element remains, he, he… deviations.

A Mad Tea Party

A Mad Tea Party

In new position I was taking the knowledge from a person who returnes to affiliate in a home country. I had only about three weeks for this process, blog was postponed and I focused on job – it is important to set prioritaties, or something like that.

And it reminds me thrilling joke:

A man comes to the hospital and requests:
– Doctor, I want to be castrated.
– But sir, maybe you will think again, this type of decision should not be taken without consideration.
But the guy insists on this:
– Please castrate me!
The doctor finally gave up and performed surgery.
After surgery, the patient wakes up and asks:
– Doctor, whether the operation was a success?
– Yes, everything went well, no complications. But just out of curiosity, why you wanted to be castrated?
– Doctor, I’m getting married soon to a Jewish woman and they have a habit that you need to be castrated.
– I think circumcised?
– Well, something like that…

Coming back to the priorities, you have to know what is important at the moment. At each interview I have had, among other things, they always asked about priorities. This is due to the times in which we live, when 150 deadlines collapses on our heads and all the reports had to be done yesterday. So until you will mastered bending space-time continuum (as you know from my other article, I already know how), you have to PRIORITEEING, or something like that…

I slowly coming back to writing, as I already have knowledge to work effectively. Of course, I do not rest on the laurels, as I know very well from past experience that whatever you do, how strong you try, “there is still a room for improvement.”

Using this approach also in the running, I finished the run Lausanne 20KM in less than two hours. I am very proud of myself because that was my target but I train now even harder to finish the route in 1 hour and 45 minutes next year.

DSC_3127Running tripn under JungfrauDSC_3129

Well, I gotta go prepare the bike. In the new workplace, every summer Friday at 13:00, we switch off  computers and some of us explore the area on two wheels and some return home.

Summer time

Summer time

Nothing like a good organization of work and leisure.

A lot of people do not know what to do with time. Time has not this issue with people.
/Magdalena Samozwaniec/

Summer Friday afternoon at work

Summer Friday afternoon at work

Śladami lisa

Fox traces

Once again, I completed the run 20 km de Lausanne and all this thanks to the systematic training preceding this sport event. During preparation period I got to know new, interesting places and routes, among other, “fox trail” along the river La Vuachère, which cuts into the limestone rocks surrounding Lausanne, creating a picturesque gorge in the middle of the city.

Red father, red grandfather,
Red tail – this is my inheritance,
And I’m the red fox.
Runaway from here, I’ll bite.
/Jan Brzechwa, The Zoo/

Sources of the river gushing in the vicinity of Epalinges at the height of 730 m above sea level and the mouth to the Lake Geneva is located at an altitude of 372 m above sea level. The length of the river is 7 kilometers, but the route is longer by one kilometer, as sometimes, for safety reasons is moving away from the riverbed. The gorge is an important enclave for many species of plants and animals about which can be read on the 130 information boards along the route. Indicators inform also about the geology, history, architecture and curiosities associated with the river. The route is marked with a silver trail of the fox and the orange-blue stakes, so in theory there should be no trouble finding the way, but sometimes you need a lot of looking around to find the next clue.

For people with children and hikers I recommend a downstream direction from Croisettes to Ouchy while for the athletes (especially those preparing for Lausanne 20km) mandatory direction is up. The route begins at the Gothic tower on the eastern edge of the boulevards of the Quai d’Ouchy. But the truth is that the tower does not have anything to do with the Middle Ages – it’s a fake. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, three wealthy inhabitants of Lausanne, William Haldimand, Vincent Perdonnet and Charles-Sigismond de Cerjat, threw an architectural challenge – the winner would be the one who would build the greatest fake ruin in their property. Such strange subject of the competition resulted from a romantic delight of the Middle Ages, longing for knightly virtues and moonlight on the castle walls…

He glanced: the moon is lighting
On Czatyrdah, and weakening the pupil
With huge circle, a bit of rose…
Like a new phenomenon, so big.
Welcome star! in that arbor,
Which I build from ghosts and knights,
I need your flashing silver;
Sometimes your radius as a sword will strike
And through the greenness will get to the nymphs
Of alabaster; even to the tower,
Where Danae is sleeping, eyes narrowing nice,
Even there with the rain of verse I will come.
Oh! shine, the moon!
/Juliusz Slowacki, Beniowski/

Caspar David Friedrich, Abbey in the oak forest

Caspar David Friedrich, Abbey in the oak forest

Vincent Perdonnet’s building can be seen in the Mon-Repos Park. The design of Charles-Sigismund de Cerjat in Rovéréaz unfortunately no longer exists. William Haldimand, the owner of the Denantou, won the competition and his tower we can see at the mouth of the river La Vuachère.

I started from the tower to the north by Avenue de la Tour Haldimand and after about 60 meters turn left into a narrow passage between the fences. I crossed the bridge and step into Denantou Park. Immediatelly turned right at the wooden catwalk. On the left side, behind the trees is a playground for children and Pavillon thaïlandais.

Pavillon royal thaïlandais

Pavillon royal thaïlandais

I ran further up until the Avenue de Denantou which I crossed, following fox traces and after a while I turned right into the alley along the river.

Sanitation Service (Le Service d’Assainissement)

Sanitation Service (Le Service d’Assainissement)

On the right I passed a large building of Sanitation Service (Le Service d’Assainissement) and after a while the Devil’s Bridge. It is a wooden, roofed structure that leads to the other side of La Vuachère and then to the Collège Champittet.

Devil's Bridge

Devil’s Bridge

I turn left, uphill to the wooden platform, which brings me to the Avenue de Montchoisi. I cross the street and find silver fox traces, which bring me through the hedge narrow passage into the blocks of flats. With the nose down I follow silver marks and reach the Chemin de Chandieu, which leads untill the railway viaduct under which I run. On the other side of the tracks I cross the bridge over La Vuachère and I turned right into Chemin du Trabandan.

Chemin du Trabandan

Chemin du Trabandan

Wending to the left I would reach the Office des poursuites du district de Lausanne at Chemin du Trabandan 28. This is the office that issues very important in Switzerland certificates that the person is not in arrears with payments and have no debts (attestation de non poursuite / attestation de solvabilité). Without such a document you cannot rent an apartment or business premises, you can not take the credit or set up the company.

I was moving all the time straight ahead between the buildings, until I reached directly the river and by very nice path along the riverbed I ran through the woods. I passed the basketball and football courts and further, between blocks of flats I ran out on the Avenue du Léman. I crossed the street and under the railway viaduct got on Chemin du Levant. Just behind Déchèterie de la Perraudettaz I turned left into a narrow gravel lane which after a while becomes a forest path spilled with sawdust.

The path behind the garbage dump

The path behind the garbage dump

I ran along the river up to the Chemin de la Vuachère, I turned left sharply and ran up to an intersection with Chemin du Levant and I turned into it right up (already ran this street earlier). Now real climbing started up to the orange-blue post, on which the arrow orders to turn right (chemin provisoire). I ran flat for a moment and then down through residential area until the path that climbs up switchbacks up the grassy slope. At the top is worth to climb a bit highier to Belvédère de la Gottettaz, which offers a view to the eastern part of Lake Geneva (Haut Lac) and the Rhone Valley.

Belvédère de la Gottettaz

Belvédère de la Gottettaz

From the Belvédère I ran down to the left to the Parc de la Gottettaz. On the right side I passed the wooden sculpture of fox and on the left a large shelter. Running ahead I back to the vicinity of the river and along a large residential block climbed up to the Avenue de Bethusy. Here La Vuachère hiding in the underground channel.

The gutter

The gutter

Following fox footsteps I run next to Chailly roundabout and turn left into Avenue de la Vallonnette. I run up and at the Maison de quartier de Chailly turn right. I cross the square in front of the community center and run in between the trees and I run down where meet again La Vuachère.

After crossing a wooden bridge, I run by the path along the river to the farm Aebi, where fruits, vegetables, flowers can be bought and before Christmas, Christmass tree. I circle flowerbeds and greenhouses, and get on the Avenue Victor-Ruffy, where I turn right and in a moment right again.

Sir Thaddeus - Book I: The Farm

Sir Thaddeus – Book I: The Farm

I run down Avenue du Templeturn right and just after a little while left, into Chemin de Champ-Rond, which will guide me for about 550 meters through the quiet residential area, again away from the river. When La Vuachère appears once more, I cross it over the bridge and climb by the stairs to the parking place at Route d’Oron. Silver marking of the route carry me to the other side of the street, then I cross Avenue de Valmont and turn left into the forest. I run next to the building where the residents organize different events, such as birthday for children. Note, I do not run stright but turn right onto the wooden bridge and just after it to the left.

A Bridge Too Far

A Bridge Too Far

I have been bitten by a dog, whose owner carelessly let it go without a leash. I loose the time to escort this lady to her apartment to see if the dog was vaccinated against rabies. Luckily it was! In addition, the lady pays me $123 million as a compensation for traumatic experiences. Oh, probably I have hallucinations caused by the shock – here are not the United States. The owner of the dog just apologize me and we split up.

Verification

Verification

Light climbing begins on the path covered with sawdust. In the ravine on the left, weakly flows La Vuachère. I run to the point where the brook hides again underground to flow under the highway Lausanne Nord.

The gutter II

The gutter II

Hence, further up and to the left, and continue alongside the schoolyard (not yet run up to the bridge over the ravine). Continue along the path close to the estate I reach an covered walkway, through which enter the other side of the highway. I turned diagonaly to the right, encircle large block of flats and turned left into Chemin de Praz-Séchaud and after 260 meters turn left again on Avenue de Valmont. I cross the bridge over the ditch, where theoretically our river leaks and reach the last information board sur les traces du renard.

From here, I run left down on the Avenue de Valmont next to large meadow. I pass the buildings of Lausanne Transport Company (tl) and via the tunnel under the highway run to a group of tall buildings. Before the first of them, I turn left towards the riverbed of La Vuachère. I cross the bridge suspended high above the gorge (which I did not previously crossed from the opposite side) and I close the loop.

Riverbed of La Vuachère near Avenue de Valmont

Riverbed of La Vuachère near Avenue de Valmont

Now, all the time I run down following fox and my footsteps until La Tour Haldimand. In the vicinity of the Belvedere, where as I said, there is a great view to the lake, I see on it’s bottom some buildings, towers and turrets as well as mysterious shadows sneaking below the surface. So finally it is true, that the ancient sunken city exists at the bottom of Lake Geneva

And the matter of Lake Geneva? Correspondents arrived from all over Europe! They began to speak, that the sunken city was founded in the times described in De bello galico when the lake was so narrow that it did not mix its waters with the waters of the Rhone flowing through it. The local carriers enriched themselves, transporting tourists by boat to the middle of the lake; oil was poured into the water to get a better view… A famous Polish archaeologist sent to the country an article in which he asserted that he saw at the bottom of the lake the intersection of streets and equestrian statue!
/Umberto Eco, The Prague Cemetery/