Pyrenees Stage Run 2018 – The Key to the kingdom of Happiness!

Forget everything you know about trail and mountain races! Press the “reset” button inside your head and let’s go again from the beginning! Pyrenees Stage Run! Seven consecutive days of running, 240 kilometers, 15.000 meters of total elevation gain, 2 countries, 5 National parks, a dozen of alpine lakes, dense forests, huge rocks, high peaks and amazing scenery. Got that? Ok, let’s go one more time from the beginning! Pyrenees Stage Run! Two race directors, 4 photographers and cameramen and more than 40 volunteers focusing on each athlete. Easy, right? Ok, one last time from the beginning! Pyrenees Stage Run! More than 60 runners, racing in teams of two or three persons, “thirsty” for adventure. Not so hard, yes? Now, mix everything you’ve just read and you won’t even have the slightest idea of what the Pyrenees Stage Run is! That, of course, until you come and live this unique lifetime experience!

 

If we were to describe the Pyrenees Stage Run with only a single word that would be, with no doubt, “Happiness”! Maybe it’s difficult for you to understand so I’ll try to give you an example. Each time I watch my kids play with their toys there is one great thing that is hardly to miss! It’s like time has stopped for them, at that particular moment, and they only live in the present. They don’t care if ten minutes before they were arguing and it’s 100% pointless for them to try and think what is going to happen after an hour! Every child has this incredible gift of living in the present and is, also, learning to adapt all its needs to that simple rule. They have their toys and that is more than enough for them. Happiness is really simple and they know exactly how and where to find it! A big hug and a kiss from mom and dad is happiness, playing with toys is happiness, having fun with their friends is happiness again! So what about us, grown-ups? Are we really happy or are we constantly trying to convince ourselves that earning more money or having a big house someday will make us happy?

 

 

The truth is that we are lost inside our daily routines and we’re mostly thinking of our future, forgetting that this way we are missing everything that is going on now. Only sometimes, if we are lucky enough, we focus on precious moments of the present and suddenly, it’s then when we feel happy! We are more than sure  when saying that Tomas and Jordi, the two race directors of the PSR, had exactly that thought inside their minds when they tried to make this race happen. Life has simple rules for happiness, like a kiss from mom and dad, and as long as we stick to these we will be fine!

 

So, what is the Pyrenees Stage Run? Well, it is as simple as that, “Run-Eat-Briefing-Sleep-Repeat”! If you take out the words “Briefing and Repeat” the ones that are left are fundamental principles of our existence on this planet since the dawn of time! But there is one little secret that lies inside the heart of the Pyrenees Stage Run and the Pyrenees as well. It’s the one ingredient that gives meaning to everything we do and joy to ourselves and it’s none other than the human relations! Tomas, Jordi, the rest of the organizing team and all the volunteers focus on the relations that are grown between them and the runners and also among the runners themselves. It’s very important for them to see people smiling and having fun otherwise why having a bunch of people wander through the Pyrenees for seven days in a row? They want everyone to be part of their big family and they really manage to make it happen because there is no other way to explain how sad we were feeling when we had to say goodbye to all of these guys!

 

 

Yes, we were part of that family for seven days and we consider ourselves very lucky that we had this chance of being there. For seven days we had forgotten all of our worries, problems, everything that troubled us and we were just there, doing something that make us happy. We were squeezing out the life of each moment we were there and, boy, that felt awesome! And, do you want to know one more thing? It makes us even happier sharing our feelings and pleasure with others! That is what the staff of the PSR is doing so well, they help you share your stories, your photos and your experiences! They get you involved, they care for you and they become your friends so there is only one thing for you to do… Find a way to be in the Pyrenees Stage Run again next year!

 

 

You know, this article should be a race report but it’s never going to happen because an ordinary race report is a “cold” thing with no feelings. On the contrary, the PSR is full of life, feelings and emotions which we’re not able to bypass. We made lots of friends there! We laughed together and we had bad times and good times up on those Mountains. But mark my words, the highest peak seemed a lot smaller when someone was by my side, and an incredible alpine lake was even more exotic when others were witnessing the same thing! A beautiful sunset is just another sunset. We are the ones who give meaning to everything! The Pyrenees are just some rocks and stones, the same mountains that you can find everywhere else on planet earth but Tomas, Jordi and the rest of their team give a special meaning to that place!

 

 

Without doubt, all the runners who have been in the Pyrenees Stage Run the past three years, while reading these lines, they’ll recall memories from their journey to the Pyrenees. Warmth fills their hearts and joy their minds because they know exactly what we’re talking about.

 

For all the rest of you, that haven’t been there yet, there are things that worth mentioning. First of all, we were impressed by the way the photographers were making a mix of photos and a short video each day, after every stage, in just a few hours. My personal opinion is that everyone is very fond of seeing his or her face on the media. Besides, the photo galleries and the videos on YouTube are the link between the race and the athletes who are thinking of registering for the PSR. All the photos and videos were shot by professionals who didn’t hesitate to chase us when going down on a very steep downhill just to capture that moment! The result was by far the best we’ve seen. What is more, all the photos and videos focus on all the athletes and not only the ones that were on the podium each day!  

 

 

Secondly, the organizing team thought that it was a better idea to have the athletes staying in hotels, after each stage, than having them to set up their tents or find themselves where to stay until the next morning. You don’t have to ask us, a nice hot bath and a good sleep on a decent bed are priceless, especially if you are beaten by the weather while racing on the mountains. That way you are able to enjoy your adventure a lot more! Of course, the registration fee is more expensive like this but I’ll tell you a little secret! During our stay on the Pyrenees and all those seven days of running we hadn’t spent a single cent! In fact, you don’t have a lot of time and places to go shopping and the food which was served every night was great! The truth is that after each stage there was, also, a buffet near the finish line where some volunteers were constantly preparing snacks, pasta and fruits for the runners and you could eat as much as you wanted or as much as you could, doesn’t really make a difference!

 

 

Moreover, it’s needless to say how thankful we are to all the physiotherapists that were most responsible for our muscle restoration. We can’t think of any other way that we could finish the Pyrenees Stage Run feeling so strong and without any injuries! Tomas and Jordi, keep these guys the same for next year! Better rephrase that. Tomas and Jordi keep everyone of the organizing team and the volunteers the same for next year! They are great!

 

 

And now that we are talking about services, could you think of a race that books a 3 hour SPA for its athletes, to make them feel better and more relaxed? No? Well, I know a race that does it. You guessed it! The fourth day of the Pyrenees Stage Run, when you enter Andorra, you are given the opportunity to choose between a nice walk in the city of Andorra or a 3 hour spa in “Caldea Spa”, a luxurious building that looks very much like a jewel in the center of the city! The cost for the use of the spa, after a discount that was made for the participants and the staff of the PSR, was 32 euros per each and I would have done it if I hadn’t promised some gifts to my family! Family comes first… Tomas and Jordi, also, know that so the spa was their gift to the big family of the PSR!

 

 

Another thing that really amazed us was the detailed briefing by Tomas in both languages, English and Spanish/Catalan, every night before the start of the next stage. Tomas was analyzing the course and the elevation profile of tomorrow’s stage and even though he seemed like talking a lot more in Spanish/Catalan than in English we had never had any problems. The end of each briefing was followed by tomorrow’s weather forecast so that we would be aware of any other difficulties due to the weather. What is more, every runner was given a colorful, printed race-book with all the information needed for the stages plus seven topo-maps with the course of each day, the elevation profile and many technical characteristics like type of the terrain, distance between aid stations, elevation gain/loss and many more.

 

Jordi & Tomas - They make the Pyrenees dream a reality!

However, there is something that excels all of the above and it has to do with the staff and the volunteers of the PSR. Every one of them was a true professional at what he or she was assigned to do. Each of them did their job perfectly and by the end of the day you couldn’t tell that there was a mountain race going on a few hours before! In order for us to enjoy our sport without any concerns, these people woke up earlier and went to bed later than us working full time in the midday! The decision of Tomas and Jordi to give a wooden, finisher’s medal, similar to ours, to all those people was the least they could offer to them. So, the last night, after the award ceremony, the volunteers formed a line and every finisher received his gift from them after saying “goodbye” to everyone with the most touching way. Hey guys, those hugs were the best finisher’s gift you could give us and we’re not going to forget that!

 

 

 

Nevertheless, you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs, which means that there would be no Pyrenees Stage Run if there weren’t the Pyrenees! So, the best way to end the PSR 2018 report is the same way every stage ended during those seven days! A personal gallery with lots of photos of the Pyrenees, the alpine lakes, the runners, the volunteers, Tomas and Jordi, Dimitris Troupis (Come on Dimitris … ) and myself, of course… Enjoy the gallery, listening to the song that kept us company along these 7 amazing days!

 

 


Theoharis Lezpouridis

Photo ©: Theoharis Lezpouridis, PSR

Edited by Dimitrios Troupis

Photo Gallery Video edited by Takis Tsogarakis

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