Kom - Emine
Antonia Grigorova, who will run the Kom – Emine trail at a fast pace, talks about the importance of looking out for challenges, the natural and the pure.
„Hey, chainsaw! How are you? I guess you’re tired, worried, excited. You do things that no one else can… not because it’s a MUST, but because you want it, because you feel you can do it. Sometimes you do not know what awaits you, but you’re curious of what it really is that drives you to do it. Maybe it’s a feeling, an instinct, reaching the pure harmony. The urge to the unachievable. Close your eyes, inhale, touch, feel! You reach and cross your borders. Pain – you feel it. It can take away all of your physical power, but it cannot take away your will. It is due to physics that you might fall, and it is up to your character to stand up, and you know that best. You are the reason I believe in the impossible, you are my inspiration and you will always be. I believe in you! You have never given up; so do not give up now! I’m proud of knowing you, I’m proud of the things you’ve taught me! Capable people always turn the impossible into possible, and disappoint those who only rely on possessions! I love you and I’m with you till the end and beyond!“
Mimi, 30 June 2016
This message, written by a little girl named Mimi, has been addressed to Antonia Grigorova – the first woman to take the challenge and run the 600-km Kom – Emine trail, which has an altitude of above 2000 meters and goes on the ridge of the Balkan Mountains.
As 1 August, the starting date, approaches, her coach Nataliya Velichkova organizes a surprise for Antonia in order to stimulate her and lift her spirits. Nataliya has been in touch with Antonia’s relatives and friends and asked them to send the runner encouraging words. „I began to receive many supportive letters. The one by Mimi touched me very much. She’s a girl I trained myself years ago, and we used to talk not as a coach to an athlete, but as friends. We called each other ‘chainsaws’”.
At the end of the trail, by the lighthouse at Cape Emine, many of her friends and relatives, including her mother, who has been living outside of Bulgaria for many years, will be waiting for her.
30-years-old athlete Antonia Grigorova was born in Varna. She has participated in cross-country skiing at two Olympics, and in many other world championships. But this will be her first time running the Kom – Emine trail from beginning to end within a certain timeframe.
Ultramarathons have been her passion in recent years. „At the end, what counts at an ultramarathon is what’s in your head – a healthy mind proves more important than one’s physical capabilities, and it happens that women improve the record of men, although it may sound almost impossible in terms of anatomy“, Antonia says.
Her enthusiasm about the Kom – Emine trail comes after watching a film about Kiril Nikolov-Disl, who set the speed record for running the same route within four days, thirteen hours and five minutes. „We’ve been training together orienteering for years, but at the time he was preparing for the Kom – Emine trail, I had an important pre-Olympics training and could not be around him. When I saw the film about him, I felt the empathy and was extremely emotional. I wanted to experience this all and run the trail myself.“
So far she has run a maximum of 160 km at a time, and now she will face a 600 km route. „It is rather unlikely that I could improve Disl’s record – at least my physiology and anatomy of a woman would not allow me.“
At the moment, Antonia is at a training camp in Belmeken, which is the final part of her preparation, before starting on 1 August. As we talk, Nathaniel, her six-years-old son, is throwing pebbles in the nearby dam.
„Food is an extremely important part of my preparation and I insist on it to be of high quality and proven origin, as well as to be rich in fats and protein,“ Antonia says and takes a sip of her favorite kefir. Then she continues to reveal details of the „fuel“ that will power her, apart from her iron will and motivation, throughout the 600 kilometers.
„There will be several check-points on the route Kom – Emine every day, where I could get meals and water. Most likely it would be pancakes and avocado sandwiches, dairy products, cream cheese, raisins, nuts – it’s important to get food that is rich in fats, so I that I can gain energy. Spices like turmeric are important as well, and of course, meat and vegetables.“
Antonia’s coach Nataliya compiles the menu and pays attention that the runner’s diet is balanced.
Food is important not only during intensive workouts, but also on a daily basis. „My day in Sofia begins with a generous breakfast with boiled eggs and different sorts of cheese. Then Nathaniel and I bike to the kindergarten, I go to work until noon, and the afternoon is dedicated to training,“ Antonia says. In the afternoon, if hungry, she eats a banana or honey, and bakes muffins for her son – „I do not want him to buy junk from the store near the kindergarten, and that’s what all kids actually do. He’s looking at them and wants to try some chips or other snacks, which is why I always prepare something delicious to offer to him as soon as he looks at the junk on the shelves.“ Besides baking, she makes origami to relax, and enjoys reading.
Antonia prefers to take natural supplements. „Even after the Olympics in Sochi, I did not drink the recommended recovery supplements (such as amino acids and pills for the liver), but I wanted to get the necessary proteins through my diet.“
Now, while preparing for the Kom – Emine trail, she only takes collagen joint supplement. At the check-points that will be located every 30-40 km along the route, besides the Harmonica products, there will also be bottles of water, spare sneakers, kinesitherapists and so-called „pacers“ – people who will run with Antonia from the one check-point to the other to keep her company, maintain the pace and take care that she does not get lost. „There are areas overgrown with bushes, where one can easily go astray. The most terrifying part is in the Central Balkan and the Kupenite area, where the route passes along the ridge and the trail is so steep and loose that there are rope railings installed.“ In the evenings she will sleep in huts, and in the morning she will start again at six o’clock.
Go, chainsaw, we are with you!