Pirin Extreme 2022

©iancorless

Exposed ridges, technical terrain, high altitude, and stunning views, the Pirin Extreme needs to be experienced.

Oihana Azkorbebeitia on her way to victory ©iancorless

Bulgaria may well not be on your radar as a location for a stunning skyrunning race, but trust me, it should be. The hub for the Pirin Extreme is Bansko, approximately 2-hours from Sofia.

Extreme by name and extreme in reality ©iancorless
Pirin National Park ©iancorless

Located at the foot of the Pirin Mountains, it is a gateway to numerous ski and snowboard slopes which in summer become stunning running and hiking routes. Craggy and rocky alpine landscape, the Pirin National Park, a Unesco Heritage Site, is known for the high-altitude Vihren Peak which is a key marker in the Pirin Extreme race.

Exposed and technical ridges ©iancorless

Organised by XCoSports, the Pirin Ultra weekend is an action-packed weekend of three races: the brutal 160km (11000m+) the 66km (4200m+) ultra and the 38km extreme.

Down climbing and roped sections ©iancorless

Extreme by name and extreme in reality, the Pirin Extreme truly is a spectacular race that personifies what skyrunning is.

Hands on action ©iancorless

Starting in Bansko, the route travels around the Pirin National Park taking in Duninoto Kuche, Banski Suhodol, Kutelo, Koncheto, Vihren (2914m), Malka Todorka, Todorka, and then forest and road trails complete the return to Bansko, a total of 3300m of vertical gain.

Film by Julen Elzora ©

The heart of the race is a key section of open exposed ridges and technical trail from Duninoto Kuche all the way to Vihren summit; a section that is approximately 4-miles long (6.5km) but for the mind and body, feels considerably longer.

Sky high ©iancorless
Exposure ©iancorless
On the edge action ©iancorless

The ridges require 100% concentration, a fall here will not end well! Scrambling, down climbing, rope sections, via feratta, the route always has everything and, a stunning backdrop to accompany the runners.

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Hold tight ©iancorless
Get steep, get high ©iancorless
No shortage of vertical ©iancorless

The 2022 edition was won by Christian Mathys and Oihana Azkorbebeitia, 4:49:28 and 5:50:29 respectively. Nicholas Molina and Anders Inarra completed the men’s podium (4:54:52 and 4:57:33) and Sandra Sevillano and Maite Maiora (5:55:21 and 5:58:07) completing the women’s podium. With an allocated 14-hours to complete the race, for many, the 38km race was a long and arduous day in the mountains.

You work hard for the finish ©iancorless

Pirin Ultra Facebook Page HERE

As one edition of the Pirin Ultra concludes, the team already look ahead to 2023 and registrations are open via basecamp.tours HERE

An epic playground ©iancorless

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