by Alexandros Petroutsos
A race becomes classic when it stands out on an athlete’s calender. When the terrain is unique. When the organizers put their love, care and knowledge that participants leave with an experience that will be remembered throughout their lives. Vovoussa became a classic race from the first year. It brings together all the above elements and more. So this year in its second event many big names in mountain biking were present and many amateur athletes tested in a very demanding route of 120 km and 30 km of Fun. The Protect Aoos MTB Ultra is actually the hardest mountain bike race in the country. It requires not only endurance and good management of strength; it is also difficult for the bike itself to cope with without mechanical problems. But the most important and the magnificence of ultra racing is that you have to submit your mind. (Remember to smile, thinking “come on, only 100 km to go!”) In terms of the organization, Dimitris Drougias, plus very many volunteers, the local community and the “Valia Calda” mountain refuge as hosts were more than a cut above. To start with, the route layout, signage and supply stations for the athletes which were at about 10 km. The Service, with support from the motorcycle group “Paranormal Activities” and residents of Doliana village that gave great support with their presence at the most difficult point of the race, after a climb of with a 27% (!!!) slope before a prolonged ascent of 20 km. There are still many details that made this event special. The 120 km revealed all the magic of the “backbone” of Pindos. In many places there were fresh bear footprints and droppings, soil was wet from the storm that broke out on the Saturday. Even the weather conspired with us with cool scents emerging from the soil and forest. In the competitive part first across the finishing line was last year’s winner Periklis Ilias (KRONOS NIKAIA CyclingTeam) with the armband of the World Champion Marathon with a time of 6:07:41. Almost alongside was George Danton (KCP / CANNONDALE) with 6:07:48 and Anestis Kourmetis (BMC-Pesos ASTER) closes the podium with one second difference in an essentially joint finish. 6 minutes later Theodore Petridis passed the finish line then Giannis Skordas, Costas Symmelidis,Simon Cole, Manos Skaros, Christos Mylonas, Costantinos Orfanoudakis close to ten minutes. In the short race was dominated by the SMF Team with Alexander Vrohidis, Panagiotis Metallidis and George Stamoumis completing the trio. The race was part of the events in the campaign in Vovoussa to protect the Aoos river. This followed a 4-day event from 7 to 10 August with screenings, concerts, discussions and information about the sensitive and pristine ecosystem of the Pindos National park. With the race the year’s events came to an end and while Aoos may not yet be saved the message is spreading – “No to diversions, no more destructive interventions.” Vovoussa is unique, as each place. Against what they call false growth but is essentially destructive and inefficient interventions, there is another perspective. This recognizes that man is part of nature and should operate in accordance with it.