Fun Karpaty Dynafit Trail 2021: When nothing goes to plan, but you’re still happy

Me at Fun Karpaty Dynafit Trail 2021

May holidays! The Carpathians! Trail running! In 2021!

If that’s not enough to convince you to buy a slot for the race, then you’re not me 🙂 Despite my lack of serious preparation and the fact that many things didn’t go as planned during the race (I ran the medium distance of 37 km in a time that more than half of the participants spent on the long distance of 54 km), I was satisfied with Fun Karpaty Trail 2021!

“How is that possible?” you may ask. Well, here’s how:


Polar Vantage V2
This winter, I decided not to stop training. Polar Vantage V2

I’ve mentioned several times that the winter of 2020-2021 was the first time that I practically didn’t stop my running training. I didn’t run as much as I was supposed to, but according to the results of my functional diagnostics, my Vo2Max increased over the winter.

You could say that I was following the Polar Flow program (with some minor adjustments) in order to run a half marathon in the spring with a personal best. Mostly, these were runs on the snow, without any elevation gain. A couple of times, I managed to do long runs in Holosiivskyi Park, but there weren’t that many of them compared to the rest of my training. This had an impact on my feelings during and after the race; it wasn’t easy.

I was able to set a personal record on the spring half marathon, but another “flat” race made me even more eager to run in the mountains. For the reasons stated in the first lines of this text, I chose Fun Karpaty Dynafit Trail 2021 in Vorokhta (Ivano-Frankivsk region) and the medium distance.

As I had a 37-kilometer race with a 1,500-meter climb coming up just two weeks after the Kyiv Euro Marathon 2021 half-marathon, I wanted to recover as effectively as possible and decided not to run. This race was going to be the most difficult one for me in terms of distance and elevation gain: previously, my longest distance was 24 kilometers with a 1,225-meter climb.

My basic goal was to enjoy the race. The extra credit goal was to end up in the top half of the participants’ list 🙂 By the way, you can read about goal setting in great detail in the comprehensive ultramarathon guide by Greg McMillan.

Travel and Accommodation

Vorokhta Viaduct
Vorokhta Viaduct

I described my not-so-successful experience of traveling to a race by car in the Ice Trail race review. For the Chornohora Sky Marathon, I got there on a bus provided by the organizers, which was quite fun but not very comfortable. This time, I decided to try to get to the race by train. It’s cool that trains run directly from Kyiv to Vorokhta (where the race was held). A bonus to choosing this mode of transportation is the picturesque route during the last hundred kilometers: on the stretch from Ivano-Frankivsk to Vorokhta, there are winding railway tracks with tunnels in the mountains, and there are no pwer lines obscuring the view.

Ticket prices: 430 hryvnias one way (in an old compartment) and 750 hryvnias for the return trip (in a new compartment made by the Ukrainian Railways, you can check it out here).

I should note that the return trip from Vorokhta to Ivano-Frankivsk was not so easy: we never caught the van that was supposed to leave “around 7 pm,” the diesel train to Ivano-Frankivsk takes three hours, and the bus station was closed. So, we took several taxis (because it’s twice as expensive to just take one straight to your destination) to get to Yaremche. From Yaremche, we took a van.

For two weeks, all weather forecasts reported that it would be relatively cold and rainy in Vorokhta on this day.

We arrived on Friday, a day before the race, and saw the sun only in the morning; the rest of the day was marked by heavy rain showersr No guide prepares you for that: even the basic goal was under threat.

Shower Rain at Vorokhta
Shower Rain at Vorokhta

There is a lot of accommodation to suit all tastes in Vorokhta because the town is a popular starting point for hikes and there is always demand. We stayed in the “Viaduk” cottage, which, despite its proximity to the railway (and the forest on the other side), was a peaceful place to sleep and a cozy place to live.

The Carpathians always have a healing effect on me, but due to the weather, my mood was slightly below average and I was preparing myself for the wettest trail ever.

You know that the weather in the mountains is unpredictable, right?

Me at "Avangard" sport base

My prayers must have reached their destination, and on the day of the race, the sun was already up at 6 am. The trail chat reported that it had snowed on the mountain overnight. This sounded tempting! Encouraged by the good weather, we headed to the Avangard sports base.

In the photo, I offered a little support to the tired ski lift.


Back in Kyiv, I began my search for trail running poles, as they were the only thing I was missing for the race. I did the exact thing you should never do: I bought them two days before the race without ever running with them before. I will write a separate post about the poles, but for now, I will show you my kit for the 37 km course with an elevation gain of 1500 m.

The organizer only had a list of recommended equipment and no requirements, so everyone ran with a very different set of gear. It seemed to me that I definitely went overboard. Here is my list of equipment:

My equip for Fun Karpaty Dynafit Trail 2021
  • Windbreaker
  • Tights 
  • Shorts 
  • Warm long-sleeved shirt and sweater 
  • Sleeves
  • Cap 
  • Bandana
  • Two pairs of socks
  • Belt 
  • Running shoes 
  • Running poles 
  • Backpack and hydration pack 
  • Sunglasses 
  • 3 water bottles (825 ml) with an isotonic drink 
  • Watch 
  • Chest heart rate monitor 
  • Phone 
  • Power bank and cable 
  • Headphones 
  • Emergency blanket
  • 7 baby purees 
  • Isotonic tablets 
  • 4 energy bars
  • 2 painkillers

Somewhere along the course, I lost a small water bottle. Regarding food supplies: I finished with four baby purees and two energy bars still in my pack. I clearly had too much food and water, considering the two checkpoints at 6 and 20 km. Surprisingly, the protein bar and isotonic drink hit the spot more than anything else.

Since my Polar Vantage M watch doesn’t provide navigation, I downloaded two apps on my phone: AllTrails (offline maps – only for a fee) and RunGo (free). Honestly, having no experience using these apps, they were pretty useless to me and didn’t help with navigation: I went off the trail three times 🙂

Although I somehow managed not to fall throughout the entire race, I was dissatisfied with how my Saucony Mad River TR performed. The lining under the insoles kept popping out halfway from the shoes, and the insoles themselves kept slipping out from under my feet, forcing me to stop and relace several times before finally taking them out. Besides that, I lost two toenails. After the race, I suspected that I simply laced them poorly.

The Leki MCR trail running poles definitely made the race much easier, but there are a few buts to mention: firstly, I learned later that Leki has poles with a proprietary glove strap for quick attachment and detachment (such poles would have cost a little more), and secondly, I definitely should have practiced folding/unfolding the poles before the race, as I sometimes had no idea what to do with them, and when I tried to attach them to my backpack, it took up a lot of time. Well, it seems there’s still a lot to do on the next training period.

The route

My tracking of the medium route at the Fun Karpaty Dynafit Trail 2021
My tracking of the medium route at the Fun Karpaty Dynafit Trail 2021

I chose the Fun Karpaty Dynafit Trail because of the season and location: I had been to Vorokhta before and knew how picturesque the area was. Running here turned out to be even more of an aesthetic experience than just vacationing!

The route was impressive from the very first kilometers: the minimal and medium distance started with a climb to Magura (1288 meters). The weather contrast on the track looked very cool: at the foot of the mountain, it was spring, but at the top, there was snow, which, by the way, fell on my head and got into my sneakers.

Climb to Magura mountain looked like 
This is what the climb to Magura mountain looked like 

The start of this distance looked very informal to me: some participants were talking on the phone during the climb, some were taking pictures at the top, and some were resting after the ascent. I suppose the atmosphere depends on which part of the group you are running in, so if you prefer a more chill experience, you should probably stay closer to the tail end 🙂

This is what the top of Magura mountain looked like 
This is what the top of Magura mountain looked like 

The descent did not allow for much relaxation, and I saw several runners who looked like they were in a cheese rolling championship because their confident and rapid descent ended with impressive falls.

Perhaps I was the only participant who managed to run in the wrong direction 3 (!) times on my route 🙂 It’s funny after the fact, of course, but at the moment when you confidently run downhill for about 15 minutes and then realize that you have to climb back up, it doesn’t feel that great. I thank all the participants who noticed this and stopped me from getting lost completely! In total, I ran 4 extra kilometers on my distance. You can check out my tracking here. By the way, I noticed that Strava got the time wrong for many participants, despite the fact that autopause was turned off. Does anyone know what the reason might be? If you do, please let me know in the comments.

Part of the Fun Karpaty Dynafit Trail 2021 route
Part of the Fun Karpaty Dynafit Trail 2021 route

I now realize that I only got lost due to my own carelessness, as the route was well marked, and the briefing included information on key kilometers and where the turns would be.

Throughout the entire distance, I was able to constantly enjoy the view (which is clearly why I got lost): snow-covered mountain peaks, incredibly cozy forests, fields of crocuses, picturesque meadows.

Field of crocuses on the route
Field of crocuses on the route
Forest on the Fun Karpaty Dynafit Trail 2021 route
Forest on the Fun Karpaty Dynafit Trail 2021 route

At some point, I was convinced that I was in last placel I could no longer see any participants ahead or behind me. Since I knew I wouldn’t be able to complete the extra credit, I didn’t push myself and just ran as best I could. Thanks to this, I was able to meet and chat with two interesting people who were also running the same distance. The feeling of skyrunning networking is incomparable!

My Finish on Fun Karpaty Dynafit Trail 2021

I didn’t finish last, but I was as close to it as possible 🙂 Nevertheless, the emotions experienced over the 6 and a half hours were so overwhelming that even my poor performance didn’t spoil my experience of the race! The medal was just awesome! And the bogrács soup at the finish line was the best thing I ever ate after a race.

Thanks to the organizers for the event!

Thanks to Kate (her instagram) for the beautiful photos in this post! (The ugly ones are mine) Congratulations to her on her first trail run!

Check out this very short but unproportionally cool video from Fun Karpaty Dynafit Trail 2021.

The results for all three distances can be found here.

I can’t fail to mention a small conflict that occurred between the finalists of the long distance, where two participants deviated from the track, thereby shortening it. Alexander Skorokhod, who finished 4th, wrote about this in great detail. Sergey Sapiga, who finished 3rd, responded to it here.

Не могу упустить и небольшой конфликт, произошедший между финалистами длинной дистанции, где двое участников сошли с трека, сократив его. Очень подробно об этом написал Александр Скороход, занявший 4 место. Ответ Сергея Сапиги, занявшего 3 место, можно прочесть тут.

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