(CHARITY) RACE TO HANDLE
107 kilometers long “Gladiator walk” was as a weapon in the fight for Latvian independence in time of the third awakening (1989-1993). “Freedom for Latvia” was on participants race numbers. Those are stories wrapped with legends about runners in “pastalas” and jeans. Unselfish support of locals, sleeping in bus stops and unbeaten track record (08:01:38) achieved by legendary ultrarunner Georgs Jermolajevs.
Race Rīga-Valmiera connects capital city of Latvia with largest city of Vidzeme, which is famous for first Latvian Summer Olympic Games medalist – race walker Jānis Daliņš (silver in 50km race walk, Los Angeles 1932). Emotionally and adventurously fulfilled Latvian ultramarathon unites decades – there are historical participants of first runs together with others.
Singing of national anthem in chorus at the Monument of Freedom and start in midnight under three stars of Milda in center of Riga. Inexhaustible support from volunteers in six checkpoints along the route. Fight between leaders and each participants inner fight and existential questioning. Highway, night, darkness, lorries, fatigue, exhaustion and temptation for Simon. That is 107km long race to St. Simon’s churches door handle with elements of running, walking and crawling.
A bottle of kefir and strudel instead of a medal. Complementary massage after finish. 107km as a small Latvian version of Spartathlon with mayor if city in start and orchestra in finish. That is the only one race in Latvia with limited amount of participants. 107 participation entries are sold out 107 days before start.
The race was renewed in 2014 and it continues traditions of Latvian ultramarathon running as stage of cup in long distance running. Gladiator walk yesterday, charity today. In 2015 one and a half hundred runners and volunteers donated almost 3000 euros for little girl’s Undīne health. And in 2016 more than 3000 were donated for little Jēkabs dolphin therapies. Charity creates miracles – if in one year Undīne greeted finishers in wheelchair, then this year she arrived on her own feet.
If Undīne can, then so do participants. Each spring they return on route to bring greeting from Milda to Simon. Four participants have made these 107km four times, two – six times, and the most diligent has done it seven times. 15 ultrarunners have participated in all three renewed Rīga-Valmiera races. The best results in past three years are holding Marta Zumberga (10:49:53, 2015) and Uldis Kļaviņš (08:26:49, 2016).
Riga - Valmiera race on National Television show "Sporta Studija"