Join Psiloritis Race
The race trail covers the distance that pilgrims of the sacred city of Minoan Knossos used to walk in order to climb Psiloritis mountain and honor their god, Zeus Cretagenes, who according to Ancient Greek Mythology was brought up in the cave of Ideon Andron, worship center and sanctum during the Minoan and Roman times. Today, Psiloritis Race links the myth with contemporary history as the runners will follow the traces of their ancestors on the holy mountain of Zeus Cretagenes.
The race will start on the morning of June 3 on Nida plateau in Anogia Crete. The athletes of 35 km will reach the summit of Psiloritis (2.456).
The idea of a mountain race in Crete, with high international standards, was first born in June 2008 on Mt Olympus. Our love for the mountain Psiloritis where Zeus brought up, the promotion of the natural beauty of the area finally transformed the idea into practice .Having the support of the people who love the island and enjoy running on the mountains, we organize this event which is called the "Psiloritis Race" (PR). The event is organized with the kind support of the prefecture of Rethymno.
The International Mountain Race "Psiloritis Race" is an athletic meeting that forwards physical activity in touch with the natural environment. The race offers the opportunity to experience the unique and exciting character of the mountain along with the opportunity for the participants to experience a unique vigorous seven-hour race. That is the reason why the athletes who will try out their strength in the PR should practice the philosophy of semi autonomy, carrying a least a necessary equipment that will provide them with security and sustenance during the race ; while there will be a systematical and in regular intervals supply. We created the PR site that will provide all the information for the race, as well as on the FaceBook, which is welcomed in ten days time by 11.100 friends around the world. The webpage of the reace has more than 269.000 visitors by now. For this well-organized and innovative event the response has far exceeded all the expectations of the organizing committee which aims to attract more and more athletes every year.
The race start point is Nida’s plateau, the highest plateau in Crete (average altitude, 1400 m.) The name comes from the articulation of the words “stin Ida”, meaning “at Ida”, where Ida is the second name of Psiloritis mountain. The view of the plateau and the feeling that’s created from all the infertile summits around you, trying to reach up the sky, makes right inside you the reason why the spirit of the cretan man transmuted to a deity, why Zeus connected his name with that area…Nida of myths.
Nearby, there’s a sculpture made of stone called “the rebel of Peace“, stands for reminding the resistance of the villages around. (Place for warming up)
A few meters higher, there’s a dirt road passing by Ideon Antron, a cavern with a great archeological interest. Zeus’s crying, the noise of the shields that Kourites were whacking according to the myth, Amalthia’s horn of plenty (cornucopia) and so many other legends for that place, brought up generations of pilgrims from all over Greece. That cave was already a cult site (sanctuary) by the end of the 4th millennium BC and continued being one with distinctive prosperity periods during the Late Minoan, the Geometric and the Roman years; all the offerings that were found there proved that.
The marking of the European path E4 leads us after 2.5 km by an uphill couloir with a southwest route to a location called Akolita, a minor plateau, crossroad for most of the paths that lead to the summit of Psilorits. There we can see a lot of mitata, small stone lodgings with a characteristic architecture (protect shepherds from cold temperatures or rain, storage of milk and cheese)
From Akolita, we continue uphill to meet a second couloir, leaving behind us a col called “sela tou Digeni” (Digenis’ saddle) and the summit called “Mavri Korfi” (Black summit)
The wildness of the landscape offers serenity to the soul in a strange way and the view is already really special while we traverse Agathias (2424 m ) from the north side and after that, we finally have a visual contact with the summit, Timios Stavros (Rood), our fist target. When we get to the top, we can see the little church, dedicated to The Holy Rood and to Apostles Peter and Paul, built on 1900 AD, also very famous for the holy cross, that anyone who wishes could stop to see.
The view from up there is literally breathtaking, since we can see almost the whole island: from the west side the impressive White Mountains (also called Madares by the locals), to the east is Dikti (Lassithi mountains), to the south the biggest plain of Crete, Messara and the cordillera of Asterousia Mountains by the Libyan Sea and to the north the city of Heraklion and Rethymnon by the Cretan Sea.
From this point starts the descent, always following the marking E4 trail until we reach Kalogrades, another plateau with dense undergrowth right opposite to Kedros mnt (1777 m) and the fascinating sight of the Paximadia islets placed in the Libyan sea and even western Gavdos Island and Gavdopoula islet, the southest point of Europe. After Kalogrades, at Toumpotos Prinos location (1500 m altitude) we meet the shelter of the mountaineering club of Rethymno, which was built on 1984 and has availability for 30 beds. There’s one tree there, a great holm oak (that’s what prinos means) which pleasurably predispose for Pardi, a wood which starts some meters lower. From that point, the path stops and a dirt road of 13 km leads us to Kouroutes, our final destination. Just 3 km from the shelter there is a small cave, which its entrance is not clearly visible, due to roadwork that took place the past few years, but once, it was an entrance to a cave with stalactites and stalagmites. Mountains of Crete abound of caves; apart from that it’s known that Crete has the most caves in Greece and the deepest cave chasm in Europe.
After that we enter Pardi, the impressive holm oak woodland of Psiloritis with so old trees perfectly harmonized to the landscape. The final destination is approaching; after we pass Mesoskouro and 2.5 km before the termination point, at a location called Lakoudia, we start see the houses and the olive trees of people that live in Kouroutes.
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The race information has been found on the official website of the event or through publicly available sources. Always refer to the official website the latest race information. Please let us know if any data is wrong or missing, by emailing us.