Record crossings on the route Kom-Emine
The speed crossing of the route from peak Kom to cape Emine has intrigued the sportsmen since the 70s of the last century. The attempts to cross the route over the years are not much for the fact that running long distances and mountain biking have never been a priority in the development of the sport but it is rather an activity for enthusiasts and for private clubs. And yet, there are a few crowning achievements of the Bulgarian sportsmen in mountain running and biking as well.
A curious fact is that in spite of the rapid technological progress in the production of sports equipment and supplements for sportsmen, the achievements haven’t changed much for the last 30 years. Another curious fact is that the records of runners and bikers are very close to each other. This suggests how hard the route is with its various terrains, significant displacements and lack of infrastructure.
Records – crossing on foot
The first written information about speed crossing of Kom-Emine dates back to the 80s of the twentieth century. The idea of a record existed already and it was a matter of time to make it happen. Already in 1986 the mountaineers Petko Lazarov, Ivan Boytchev, Ivan Ivanov and Bozhidar Dimitrov from the tourist association “Planinets” (“A mountaineer”) crossed the route in 6 days. It was the proof that a personal achievement was possible as long as the organization was better and the weather forecast appropriate.
Later the same year, in September, the alpinist and athlete Lyubomir Palakarchev from the tourist association “Cherni Vrah” achieved his third crossing of the route. Thanks to his excellent preparation and right strategy, he crossed the route in 5 days and 18 hours. By this time, it was a crowning achievement in mountain running, but Lyubo knew that he could achieve better results thanks to the experience he gained.
A year later, in September 1987, Lyubomir Palakarchev and Ivan Ivanov made another attempt to set a record – according to the initial preparation – in 4 days and a half. Ivan Ivanov quit on the second day and Lyubo crossed the route being late: in 5 days and 14 hours. This was an improvement of his own record. This was a remarkable achievement for Bulgarian sport which nobody could outrun for decades on. Another even more impressing fact is that the equipment and communication technologies during the 80s were on a different level. Luybomir had run dressed in ordinary shorts only, naked chest and a torch in hand because at the time being headlamps didn’t exist yet. He had a driver who met him at the passes.
What followed was a period of a calm and several unofficial attempts to improving the record of Lyubomir Palakarchev. It was not until the year 2014 that they started to talk about improving the record again. Kiril Nikolov (DISL) – one of the elite Bulgarian runners, made another attempt to improve the record but due to a trauma he cancelled the attempt in its last stage.
The new record was realized one year later, in 2015. The runner Bozhidar Antonov ran the distance in 5 days and 10 hours from 6-th to 11-th of August. This is Bozhidar’s forth attempt for speed crossing the route and first successful finish at cape Emine. Although, he gets lost several times, he manages to beat the 30-year-old record of Lyubomir Palakarchev with 3 hours and 50 min. This achievement was a part of Bozhidar’s long-term plan and represented a particular training for a further result of 4 days which would happen a few years later.
Later in the same year – 20th of August – Kiril Nikolov (DISL) made a second attempt which was successful and resulted in 4 days and 13 hours. DISL’s trainer was Nataliya Velitchkova and his achievement received wide media coverage.
RECORDS – MOUNTAIN BIKE CROSSING
The record of speed crossing on a bike from peak Kom to cape Emine is of the same interest as foot crossing, especially over the last few years which are a real bloom for mountain bike crossing, a sport which has become more popular on a worldwide level. The first written data for a record in mountain bike crossing are from 1981 when mountain orienteering sportsman Slavi Rashkov rode the distance in 6 days. Taking into account the weight and the qualities of the bikes at the time, one should consider the achievement remarkable. The preparation took 3 years, a period during which Slavi rode the route several times and established a detailed plan which took into consideration the right distribution of the strength on each stage of the crossing.
What followed was a long period during which there were no data for attempts of a record improvement. It was not until 2011 that Rayko Stefanov set a new standard for mountain bike racing by riding the distance in 5 days and 12 hours. The following achievements are rather similar to this one. In 2014 Borislav Yordanov made a record of 5 days and 4 hours. After that Rayko Stefanov tried to improve the achievement unsuccessfully. Over the last few years, the word has it that it is possible to cross the route in 4 or even less days.