Слідами українських козаків - "Varna Marathon"

In the footsteps of the Ukrainian Cossacks - "Varna Marathon"

And on Sunday, an injury
The community gathered
To the Cossack adviser.
Began to please the council,
Where to get Varna:
Oh, whether from the field, oh, whether from the sea,
Or from a small river?
Oops, I got injured on Sunday
They run, sail in boats,
Sparkle with rainbows,
They hit me with a cannon,
Varna was once glorious —
More glorious Cossacks,
That they got that Varna.

– An excerpt from the Ukrainian People's Duma about the Cossacks' march to Varna (1606)

It was not by chance that I cited this excerpt from the Ukrainian People's Duma, which tells about the campaign of the Cossacks to Varna (1606) under the leadership of Peter Sagaidachny or Hryhoriy Izapovych (different sources indicate different leaders of the campaign). In May, I got to know Bulgaria, a new country for me, which traditionally began with participation in a running event, namely participation in one of Bulgarian marathons. By the way, in the month of May, the 4th takes place in Bulgaria marathon races: two road marathons in the cities of Varna and Pleven, and two trail marathons in the villages of Sinemorets and Ravnohor. But my choice fell on "Varna Marathon" because of what was here


Registration process for marathon in Varna took place, as in most such competitions, through its official website marathonvarna42km.com. Each participant had the opportunity to choose, except for the main one distance of 42 kilometers, one of two satellite distances of 21 and 10.5 kilometers. Payment was required during registration initial contribution, which was 30 $ for those who chose the main distance. After payment, a letter with confirmation of registration should have arrived by e-mail. But the starting number was assigned to the participant only on the day of receiving the starting package, that is, before the competition itself


Route of the main road distance of 42 kilometers consisted of 4 laps of 10.5 kilometers each and generally passed along the paths of the local park and embankment of the city of Varna. To get to the venue of the competition, you could use a plane or a bus. I rejected the last option right away, because it was necessary to cross the border with Romania in this way, which is not entirely convenient in the current conditions and there are risks of problems with this.

marathon varna map

Therefore, there is only one way reach Varna - by plane. For this, it was necessary to make a transfer either in Vienna, or in Istanbul, or in Berlin, or in Sofia. I chose Sofia to avoid unpleasant surprises when crossing the border.

Covid situation

In order to to get to Bulgaria certain conditions related to the covid situation had to be met. Namely, to be vaccinated, to have antibodies or a negative PRL test done no later than 72 hours before crossing the border. Since I had not yet been vaccinated at that time, and I was not going to get vaccinated before the trip, I did not have antibodies (this problem has not affected me yet), there was only one option left - to do the PCR test again. The only nuance: I had to take the PRL test twice: before arrival in Bulgaria and upon returning to Ukraine. Here I will dwell a little on how to return a citizen of Ukraine to his home.

At arrival in Ukraine it is necessary to install the "Home" application, it is advisable to do this in advance, so that the procedure itself will go much faster at the border. When crossing the border, you need to show your phone screen with the "Home" application open and have a negative result of a PCR test in your hands, conducted no earlier than 72 hours before entry. If there is no PCR test, then you will have to self-isolate for 14 days. If it is not possible to stay at home for 14 days, it is necessary to pass the PRL test, and if the result is negative, the self-isolation will end prematurely. You can take such a test both at Boryspil airport and when you arrive at the place of self-isolation, by calling doctors at home, or visit a clinic that performs such tests.

I decided to take the PRL test at the airport, after which I went to the place of my self-isolation. When I arrived home, the application informed me that I was already there and could undergo a 14-day self-isolation. From that time, the countdown of days of self-isolation began. Every day, two hours are given to take a walk in the fresh air or make purchases in the store. But my self-isolation was already over by the morning of the next day, because the system received a negative PRL test.

varna running 1

So, let's return to Bulgaria and directly to the marathon itself. Upon arrival at the Sofia airport at the old terminal, I went through passport control, where I presented my passport and a negative PRL test. Thus I entered the country.

Acquaintance with the country

From that moment my disappointments began. Because it immediately seemed that I got into a slightly improved Egypt or Ukraine: when you leave the airport and suddenly people appear in front of you who want to take you somewhere and offer various services that you do not need (this is very annoying). Since I arrived at the old Sofia airport, a departure to Varna was new, I needed to get there somehow. There are two ways to do this: by bus for 1 lev, which runs every 30 minutes between the two terminals, or by taxi (10 lev).


When I finally arrived in Varna, I settled in a hostel and immediately went to get to know the city. I had to get mine the next day starter pack in the hotel "Black Sea". For this, you had to show your passport. The starter package includes a number, a t-shirt and a backpack. Having collected my starting package, I went on to walk around the city, admire its streets and wait for the most interesting thing - directly on marathon start.

Varna 1

It was scheduled for the next day, Sunday at 9:30. On Independence Square in front of the Stoyan Bachvarov Drama Theater, where the competition was supposed to start, from the very morning those who wanted to to participate in "Varna Marathon".

varna marathon start 2

Its route consisted of four laps of 10.5 kilometers each, during which several ascents and descents are provided. The biggest descent was expected at the 5 kilometer mark and the biggest climb was about 1 mile before the end of the lap. The running route itself passed partly through the streets of the city, along the Varna embankment, but most of it through the territory of the city park, where the crowns of trees saved all the athletes from the scorching sun. The organizers also took care of food outlets. There were three of them on each lap, where runners could refresh themselves with water or try isotonic drinks, as well as eat goodies prepared for them.


After the pre-start instructions from the race organizers, at 9:30 a.m. the simultaneous start of the “Varna Marathon” took place for marathon and half marathon participants and only then the kilometer starts took place. So, at 9:30, my first Bulgarian running adventures began. The route itself seemed quite interesting to me, although it consisted of several laps. The first part of the circle was convenient for running, as it mostly passed in the shade along the paths of the park. After that, a descent awaited me, and then the embankment, where a beautiful view of the Black Sea opened on one side, and a towering rock on the other. Run along the embankment було не зовсім зручно, так як це відкрита площа без дерев під пекучим сонцем. Єдиним порятунком став вітер, який інколи вів зі сторони моря.

marathon varna start

Behind the embankment, a small climb, and then ran through the streets of the city and a new circle. This route had to be repeated four times. Thus, the first 5 kilometers each athlete has the opportunity to make a mistake in the nature of the park, the next 4 kilometers remain sunbathing and finally, thoughts come to mind - "how wonderful that one lap has become less".


After 4 hours and 52 minutes, I finally covered the entire distance and the running adventures through the streets of Varna were over for me, and with them my first Bulgarian marathon.


After this marathon, I generally had pleasant memories and positive emotions. The competition itself turned out to be quite good. The only disappointment is the lack of a "SportExpo" where you can get to know the local running events in more detail. As for the route, it seemed interesting to me, the nature of the park and a rapid descent, and then an embankment and a small climb. Although, in my opinion, the crew of firemen with a water sprayer did not interfere with the section that passed along the embankment. Herself marathon course was completely fenced off from outside traffic, which was monitored by local police and sailors. In addition, doctors and volunteers were present on the track, who provided assistance to the participants if necessary.