As you may know, I am going to participate in this week’s 50k Golden Ring Ultra Trail in Russia. And I am very happy to announce that we managed to interview Michael Dolgy, the founder of this trail event!
For the 3rd time it is held in Suzdal, some 200k outside Moscow. The name of the trail is given by the so-called Golden Ring of Russia’s small but amazingly picturesque towns, and Suzdal is among of them.
Golden Ring Ultra Trail has several distances in 2017, including the ultimate 100k trail, as well as 50k, 30k and 10k trail.
With an impressive start list of more than 2.500 athletes, 420 of which are starting on the T100 race and 691 on the T50 race, it has grown to a big unique event, with even international allure: a total of more than 40 foreign athletes starting in the T100 or T50 race, including people from such countries as Israel, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Sweden, USA, Netherlands and more!
With this growing attention and huge starting fields, we of course had to interview the founder and organizer of this great event! Enjoy the interview below.
When and how did you come to the idea to organize Golden Ring Ultra Trail, and was there any foreign prototype to it? Why did you choose Suzdal as the location for this trail?
MICHAEL: First of all I am a trail and ultra-runner, so I love to run and do it a lot 😊 Especially long distances. I love this feeling… feeling of freedom. So after a couple of ultra-events such as Tierra Arctic Ultra, Transvulcania and others, I started to think to create something cool for my country, I am not a poet, nor am I a musician, but I have lot of friends and connections and I love to run. So I made a decision to create an awesome race which must be located not so far from Moscow, and I developed the biggest trail in Russia to improve trail running, to improve positive image about my country in the world and make people happy as I know how to make unforgettable events! So I chose Suzdal as it perfectly fitted for me: lots of monuments and things to see, amazing nature around, lots of restaurants and friendly people. I love Chamonix in French Alpes, before the start of Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc, and I started to think that I can do something like this, as Chamonix is capital of trail running in the world! So let’s make Suzdal a capital of trail running in Russia! I ran around over 1000 kilometers firstly alone and then with my team, we spent a lot of time to create all of this that you see now! And we succeeded!
What do you do to make the track different and better than the previous edition?
MICHAEL: Every day I think to create something new to inspire everyone around, each year getting better and better, more interesting and mysterious. I am looking for local legends, asking people about the area, running myself, negotiating with new powerful sponsors. It is a huge stressful process.
How do you like that your event is becoming more and more international with people coming to Russia specifically for this event? Why do you think athletes choose such extreme and ultra-long distances?
MICHAEL: I am very happy to make my race famous and successful, I make my race for people, it is question of soul satisfaction. Number of foreign runners grows every year, and I think this proves how attractive and interesting my project is. This is amazing combination of sport tourism and exploration! You can see everything in just 2 days.
Being an ultra-runner yourself, what is the toughest trail you have done in your life, and why?
MICHAEL: One of the toughest for me was 120 km Arctic Tierra Ultra with 2500 m elevation. It was my second ultra-trail race and longest one, by that time. Fully autonomous. I think I really spoke with God that day. It was unbelievable experience, test of my mental and body condition. I made so many mistakes with shoes and equipment, and I now realize how easy I was going, I thought about many things that day and how important it is to do things which are more important than my own wishes or dreams. My family, my wife, my kids.
Another one was in Vietnam, but I was better prepared there, although the climate conditions and atmosphere made me tired. But I did it, it was a great race!
How do you prepare yourself for an Ultra Trail race?
MICHAEL: Now? 😊 I am not! 😊 I just run! 😊 Really, my body is ready to run anytime. But if I have special goals, then I try to work out in gym more, to run longer than usual, etc.
What recommendations would you give for the athletes participating in the Golden Ring Ultra Trail on how to prepare in the final week before the race? Any specific food to eat? Any special trainings to attend?
MICHAEL: Ok 😊 Great! If you want to run Golden Ultra in Russia, not the short distances, but long such as 50 km and 100 km, you should better train your feet in gym, as the surface in the trail is not flat, it is covered by grass, etc. You should take some shoes with thick tread. Better to have good socks with thick bottom too, as we have many river crosses. Train more hips in gym. You need to be ready for Russian jungle! As to the food, I would say that it’s better to eat something you like personally and if you tested it well, but I love pasta 😊
What gear, equipment, food and drink would you recommend to have during the trail?
MICHAEL: It is good to have nice cream for feet and groin, for armpits. Of course, camel bag, great to have spare socks and telephone cover against unexpected rain, sun cream too. 1 litre water bottles, it is good to have isotonic as well. Salt stick helps a lot. A pair of long running trousers.
Surely you would agree that athletes could not run that far without the support of their families and friends. Do you know any great spots at the distance apart from starting area where families could cheer up their sportsmen?
MICHAEL: That’s true, there are a few places to see your family on check points 1-2-4-5-6. Best place and easy to find on the map.
What are your expectations of this year’s Golden Ring Ultra Trail, and what can we expect from your organization in future?
MICHAEL: Great questions, we have big plans, and we try to improve race year by year! Actually soon there will be first Russian Ultra Marathon Mad Fox Ultra (www.goldenultra.ru) It is an amazing project! Moreover, we have so many sponsors. We are going to give as many bonuses for athletes as we can. The biggest and richest trail in Russia, and by the way we are National Record Holder in terms of quantity of participants. Buckles for fast runners, awards for Faithful runners, souvenirs, unique medals with real ancient handwork, etc.
In addition to that, we have two more very interesting projects, our main one is Running Heroes Project created to make 4 unique races, just stay tuned with us! We try to make events for people, not to be the best but to inspire everyone! Let the Ultra be with you!
Picture Sources: www.goldenultra.ru, Michael Dolgy
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