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Race Review: Suki Trail Winter Edition 2020

Wonderful wintry conditions at this year's Suki Trail Winter Edition.

Yesterday (19th January), two things happened. First, there was the excellent race known as the Suki Trail Winter Edition. Second, I fractured a bone and spent some time at Székesfehérvár hospital. Whilst those two things are in some way connected, you are just going to have to read on to find out how, and the valuable lessons I am learning so you don’t have to.

The Suki Trail is a race which takes runners over the hills to the north of Lake Velence ( approx. 45mins west of Budapest by car). There is a summer and winter edition, both of which offer trail runners generally easy trails with less elevation than one would normally get when running similar distances, say, in the Pilis; routes offering an excellent introduction to trail running for newbies or a chance for a less demanding, but thoroughly enjoyable race for experienced runners.

That is how I understand the event anyway. So, with a carefree attitude, way too many gels and my trail shoes packed, I ventured out of the city and looked forward to some country air.

On arrival the roads up to Sukoró’s Kultúrház and the start of the race were ICY. It added a certain amount of excitement to proceedings, and suggested that the packed trail shoes were going to have their work cut out for them today. Organisation at the start was relaxed and easy, and with some support from a fellow runner we found that I needed to sign a waiver before getting my race number. The tragedy of the day is that in the waiting area there was the most enormous selection of food and drink for after the race which I was never able to sample.

Pleasingly the Suki Trail had what the previous week’s Zúzmara Félmaraton lacked, the zúzmara! The frost on the trees was beautiful! And, as the race for the half-marathon distance began, I was excitedly expectant of further natural wonders en route.

This trail run is unlike some events where runners are in a constant cycle of aggressive inclines followed by short-steep downhill recoveries followed by further inclines. Under normal conditions, the Suki Trail, with its less than 600m elevation gain on the 21km route, makes it possible to stride out more and have a greater sense of the freedom which running on trails can offer. And yesterday, this was still possible in places, but for the most part the icy conditions meant runners had take extreme care throughout much of the race.

And thus, we come to my fracture. One moment of inattention, a slip, and boom! Fractured arm.

Unfortunately, I was almost half way between the refreshment station stops. So a 3-4km tortured jog was needed to reach my eventual saviour (one of the event volunteers with a Land Rover). My arm was killing me, I couldn’t lift it without pain. Each step sent throbbing fireballs into the meat of my right arm, but still I had an intention to finish. Other participants stopped to check how I was, and I just sent them on. They couldn’t help much and I didn’t want to affect their race; maybe I should have taken them up on their offer of support, but it all ended O.K. in the end.

Accidents happen. And this was an accident. What indicates a well-managed event, supportive of runners who find themselves in a difficult situation, is the speed and depth of the care you receive. I was immediately sent in the vehicle from the refreshment point to the start/finish without delay or unnecessary questioning. In the on-site ambulance I was assessed quickly, given the information I needed to ensure there was no further damage, and sent off to the nearest hospital. Most importantly, the race organiser was on hand to offer food, drink, his phone number (in case of any language difficulties) and his own concern. It seemed like as a representative of the event he cared, and this goes a long way in my book.

So, would I recommend the Suki Trail? YES! It is an established event over lesser-known terrain which is accessible for experienced and inexperienced trail runners alike! The organisers have their priorities straight, and if it wasn’t for the accident you would be reading a wholly positive (and much shorter, oops!) blog post here today.

Lessons I learnt on 19th January

1) In challenging conditions, never take one's eyes off the track, not even for a moment.

2) I learnt how to negotiate hospitals in Hungary. Note: Székesfehérvár hospital has a great A+E department.

3) If you are hurt and you get to an aid station, stop. You can’t judge the severity of an injury.

4) It is possible for trail shoes to become cursed. I will be buying new ones ASAP.

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