Back In The Game…

2016 was a big running year for me. If you were to try to find me on the race results lists, you would fail. I didn’t race that much. In fact, I ran only two races (or one, not sure). 2016 was all about challenges, new adventures, new countries. It was a year full of my first times…

Right at the beginning of 2016 I visited Mongolia for the first time. I went there to run on a frozen river in -40C in an area heavily populated by wolves. A real adventure!  

My first time: Whole trip! And 1st Slovakian to run a marathon on a frozen river in -40C

Mongolia Adventure - Running on A Frozen River - finish

In the summer, I headed up to the Swiss and Italian alps with my friend Lizzie Hawker. We ran the UTRM race course (a race she organises and a race harder than UTMB) clocking up 170 kilometres with total ascent of 11,200 metres in 4 days. I did it on a very little training and was very pleased to appear alive in our hotel (our final checkpoint) at about 9pm!  

My first time: Crossing the glacier in 3,000m! 

Running UTMR route - Day 2 - Zermatt - Theodul Pass - Cervinia - Glacier crossing

A few days later and I was back in the Swiss/French alps, back in the mekka of trail running – Chamonix. This was our usual annual work trip/holiday where we managed a couple of runs (up the VK, run to the Aiguille du Midi, etc). 

My first time

Trail running with my boyfriend in my favourite location (he came to visit and, as everyone who comes here, fell in love with the location and UTMB). 

November was the biggie. A self-organised adventure in Nepal, an adventure of a lifetime! Big mountains, high altitude, different culture and way of life. For three weeks we lived out of a small backpack and were trekking/fast packing for 8-10 hours a day.

My first times

Lots of them! Running, hiking, sleeping in 4,000m and being alive in 5,106m – crossing the Larkya La Pass, to name a few!

 Nepal Adventure - My small backpack - Lowe Alpine 
Nepal Adventure - Reaching Larkya Pass 5106m

Before I started writing this I thought my 2016 was actually a low key. I’m not a medal collector but I guess I based it on the (very low) number of races I ran compared to the number of months. 2 races vs 12 months = not a running year. But looking back at it – all the photos, memories, new friends and funny situations – this was a hell of year!

It wasn’t all roses tho. 2016 brought me lots of bad bits too. A very high number of downs at work and in my personal life. One very big and painful moment which, if I could I would erase from my life straightaway. But as they say,


those hard times only make you stronger in the end.

I was ready for big changes, for a new beginning, for the next step. So far, 2017 has been all that and more. Right at the beginning, I gave myself a clear goal – to find a new job before I turn 29. It was time to advance my career as I felt. In February, I took the leap, gave notice and started looking for a new opportunity. A few what-the-fuck-Am-I-going-to-do days and sleepless nights later, I found it.  I joined the 7 League on 2 May 2017, day after my birthday. Goal accomplished.

During the whole 2016 I didn’t miss racing. I was enjoying my not-organised running adventures and trips. But 2017 is different. In April, I finished my first race of this year – Endurance Life Exmoor Ultra. Running with my boyfriend, crossing the finish line, getting the medal (and all that race jazz) left me hungry for more. For more races. 5k, 10K, 20K or 50K – here I come. 

First Race of 2017 - EnduranceLife Exmoor Ultra

What does your 2017 looks like? Have you signed up for more races than last year? Are you going on some big adventure?


Lenka Istvanova

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