Lisi Trail Running Festival Tbilisi (marathon) 2024

Report by: Alan Evans

Race Date: 15th June 2024

The Lisi Trail Running Festival is held just outside Tbilisi in Georgia. They have 7km, 10 km, 20km, 42 km, 62km and 105 km events. For the second time, I entered the 42 km race. There were 62 entrants in this category. The terrain is extremely challenging with 2 km of ascent on the 42 km (in reality 45 km) event. That is an average gradient of about 10% on the climbs. The ground is also rugged as the mountains here are limestone and trails are typically rocky.

The weather was 33 C at its high with some cloud at times and shade offered by trees but much of it was in the open. The organisation was excellent, with very well-stocked aid stations (4 I think). At the famous Didgori Monument, the approximate half-way mark and at 1600m elevation, there was pumpkin soup which was really needed by this point.

The scenery is stunning consisting of pine, deciduous trees and grassland. The route passed through a small settlement at one point but 95% was on trails and away from civilisation.

The participants were from all nationalities with the majority being Georgian and Russian.

The race began at Tsodoreti Lake, which is about 18 km outside of the city. There were caterers on site serving hot drinks, snacks and most importantly, speciality beers. A fleet of shuttle buses was arranged to take runners from the city to the venue. The runners in the 62 and 105 km events started early but all the rest got to the venue at 8 am and had two hours to wait for the start. My only criticism is that the start should be early for all runners because at this time of year, the temperatures can be oppressive.

We set off at 10 am and there was a bit of a bottleneck on the first climb but we soon spread out. It helped knowing the course and how challenging it was.

First male was Evgeniy Okunev at 4:26:16 and first female was Kseniia Avdeeva at 5:15:50. I managed a good time (for me) by the half-way mark but then I began to flag compared to last year, coming in at 7:29:35. The bonus 3 km at the end is a seemingly endless 150 m ascent 2 km climb (walk in my case) followed by a quick descent.

The shuttle bus would not start to take us back to Tbilisi so picture the sight of 10 knackered runners pushing a minibus along the track to bump-start it. It did eventually start and we got back to Tbilisi at about 8 pm.

Georgia is great for trail running. In the heat of the summer, Mestia in the north-west is cooler where trails take you up to 3400 m in altitude

Link to full results here –




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