First-Hand Account: The Pancharevo Trail Marathon

As told by Yoana Bogdanova ’25

Your hands are freezing, your legs hurt, you are covered in mud, your clothes are soaked from the rain, the only thing you hear is your heavy breathing and the splashing of puddle water. You have been wandering through the mountain for hours but despite everything you are still accelerating with a smile towards the orange tents. You are flying. That’s how it feels to cross the finish line of the rainy Pancharevo Trail Marathon. The race is organized annually by running club Begach, and this year Yoana Bogdanova ‘25 and Ms. Alison Gauthier, who are both members of the club, took part in the half and full distance of the race respectively.

I realized that I enjoy running after I completed my first 10K last May. I never imagined I could run for that long, and was even convinced I hate running. Over the summer running became my main hobby and I completed my first half marathon. In autumn I joined the ACS running elective, and I competed in three middle distance races. After volunteering in multiple events organized by Begach and getting to know some of the people behind all of it, I decided to join the club officially. The Pancharevo Half Marathon was my first race for the season and I was putting a lot of effort into my preparation. Despite not being able to train in the month leading to the race due to an injury, my leg not being fully recovered, it being my first trail race, and the weather forecast not seeming to be on my side, I was still more excited than worried. Only one factor I hadn’t considered carefully enough - the mud. It made the terrain almost impossible to walk on, let alone run. It was even more challenging than I had anticipated but the negatives didn’t stop me from truly enjoying the experience with my friends. I believe that running can be a lot more pleasant than most people think, so I recommend giving it a try, and who knows, one day you too might be crawling in the mud with socks on your hands and a smile on your face.

I know how hard running 21 kilometers on that day felt, and I can’t imagine what 42 kilometers would be like. I admire Ms. Alison Gauthier for completing the full marathon on the wet, slippery and impossible to run trails.

We both believe that running is a wonderful hobby and would like to encourage anyone to give it a try. Our observations led to the unfortunate conclusion that the ratio of men to women is far off in our sport, men being the dominant number. We hope this story inspires more women to get involved, and one of Begach’s upcoming events - Women’s Run, can be the perfect opportunity for that. If you want something more challenging, the Kaufland Half Marathon in May might be your race. Lastly, remember that if your goals don’t scare you they aren’t ambitious enough!