TIHIO - DAFNOS - VARDOUSIA - GIONA - PARNASSOS – DELFI – TIHIO
Tihio - Palioxari - Krokylio - Pentayi - Tristeno - Dafnos - Korakas - Mousounitsa - Stromi – Pyramida – Viniani – “51” - Agoriani - Polydrosso – Parnassos Ski Centre – Liakoura – Gerontovrachos – Delfi – Sernikaki – Ag. Efthymia – Vounihora– Malandrino – Vraila – Trikorfa - Tihio
Positive altitude: 14000m
Windbreaker – rain jacket
Headlamp with spare batteries
Water containers over 1 lt in total.
Anyone wishing to run this race must be adequately prepared, both physically and mentally. Total ascent is close to +13900m and the terrain is generally rocky. It could be said that this is a unique race by the standards of Greece in terms of altitude and challenging terrains. The trails can be characterised as purely mountaineering. Moreover, this race is ruled by the principle of semi-autonomy. There are therefore 8 aid stations (two of which for drop bags) and 8 check points. (Detailed table follows at the end of this description)
The start will be given in the village of Tihio. We start from "Theatraki" and descend on the asphalt on the right with a path towards the village (Tihio, water). After about three (3) kilometers we reach the village of Palioxari, at 3.2 kilometers of the route we turn left (to the north) and follow a downhill dirt road that takes us down near the Mornos river. We then follow a small dirt road (like a path) to the east along the river (against the current). At 19.5km we come across a small asphalt road and take a left turn downhill to Mornos. We cross the river and go left on the main asphalt road where we find a water fountain.
We go uphill on a path, having crossed to the other side (northern slopes) of Mornos. We cross the asphalt road several times. We then reach a dirt road that leads us to the col above the village of Krokylio. We go down to the village square where the first station is located (AID STATION 1) 25km.
We go uphill on a beautiful path inside a creek and follow a trail in old meadows that will take us to an asphalt road. After 1km we will leave the asphalt for a dirt road up to a chapel. We will then take a downhill path through fir trees that leads to the village of Pentayi (35,5km., water). The next 3,5 kilometres are on asphalt until we reach the village Tristeno (39km., water) with an astonishing view to the southern ridge of Vardousia. At the end of the village (church) we will take the path that takes us down to the river (Kokkinos) with the old watermills. We cross (through the water, as the iron bridge is no longer safe) to the eastern bank and go uphill. A breathtaking forest will take us to the village Dafnos at the 43km marker (AID STATION 2).
From Dafnos we will follow the dirt road that leads to Meterizia col. Take care not to head downhill towards the Refuges of Vardousia that we see below us. We should head uphill towards the summit. There is also water in a rock at this point (55km). We go up with care and arrive at Megas Kampos (Great Meadow). We cross the meadow and arrive at Korakas peak at 2495m. We use the same route to go down to Meterizia, and head downhill towards the refuges. We take the undulating footpath that leads us to mound Profitis Elias. We continue on a steeper incline (slippery section) and arrive at the village of Mousounitsa (Athanasios Diakos) at the 65th km. AID STATION 3 is there at the village square (elevation 950m).
We leave the square and follow an asphalt road uphill, leaving the village behind. A downhill slope begins, and we take a left on path E4. The slope takes us to the river (Mornos) and we use the bridge to cross over. We run on a dirt road, then on a footpath that leads to an asphalt road. We follow the asphalt road until Stromi (76km). Participants are encouraged to stock up, as the great ascent on Giona comes immediately next. This will be the most challenging and isolated part of the race. First we follow the E4 path, and at the 78.5km we take the dirt road. At the 80km we turn right and, after 1 km (crossroads), we take a left turn to head upwards to Myer's cave. It is worth noting here that we will pass from the cave that served as a hiding place for the British operatives of Gorgopotamos in 1944. We then cross the dirt road tapes from an old uphill footpath. After the 85km, we now come to a hard trail leading to the famous Vathia Laka. Ahead of us rises the vertical rocky peak of Pyramida (400m). The trail circles it from the east. At the 86km we reach the col of Platyvouna – Pyramida. Attention is required here, as we will have to go up the peak, then return to this point in order to head south towards the refuge of Giona.
Going up from the col, the trail becomes a mountaineering one, which means that there is no distinct trail but we can follow the markers. There is a checkpoint at the top (2510m.) and the exquisite view will be very compensating. All mountains from Olympus to Taygetus are visible from this point. We are at the 87km, and here comes a big and arduous downhill slog for 15 km. We go down to the col and take a right turn (south) that will bring us to pass in front of the refuge at the 90km. We then enter the famous Reka gorge. The trail is not always apparent, but we follow the markers. The terrain is hard and, as we reach the bottom of the creek, we have to run on the pebbles following the creek bed towards the exit. We then reach the village of Viniani (103.5 km) where AID STATION 4 is located.
From Viniani, we go up the dirt road that will take us to Lamia-Amphissa country lane. We run towards Lamia (heading north but on the sideway) and, after 200m, we cross the road and enter an uphill footpath heading east. After 2km, we find path E4 and follow it to the east. Sometimes a footpath, sometimes a dirt road, our trail will take us to km 116 right by Kokkinovrachos peak. A steep descent begins at that point, leading down to the village of Agoriani. Right there at the 125km (elevation 840m) is the village square with water available.
We now take path ‘22’ which first heads to the east with variable inclination. After Kitios peak (960m) we will turn north and, from this point on, we run continuously downhill. ATTENTION: Even though the downhill slope is mildly inclined, it is a dangerously rocky terrain. At the 133km we reach Kifissos Springs (an archaeological site with plenty of running water all around). We follow the road for 2km and arrive at the village of Polydroso (elevation 390m.). There is a central station on the 136km. AID STATION no. 5
The National Path 22 is a beautiful ascent up a dirt path through the fir trees, and will take us close to the Ski Centre of Parnassos (Fterolaka 148.8km). A dirt road which then becomes a footpath will lead to the base of Liakoura peak (known as Lykoraea in ancient times). The path ascending towards the peak (155km) is the same as the path of descent. We are now at 2457m, which is the highest point of the route and looks down to an incredible view to the north. After returning to the base of the cone, we will continue west on a relatively indistinct footpath towards Gerontovrachos which stands at 2367m as the second highest peak. The view is equally breathtaking, this time looking south to the gulf of Itea.
At first the descent heads to the north, but eventually we turn west to approach the small ski centre of the Athenian Mountaineering Association, which we then leave behind to reach Refuge Defner on the 161.5km. Here, at an elevation of 1800m, is AID STATION 6. From here we will enter a footpath lusciously covered in fir trees, which will take us to Livadia in Arachova. At the 166km we will vertically cross the asphalt road and will take a dirt road that will lead us west towards the Forest Service outpost (right below Korykion Antron cave). A mild downhill dirt path starts there. On the 173.5km begins the ancient stone path which is fairly broad and looks over the archaeological site of Delfi (177th km). Equally impressive is the valley of Pleistos river, with olive groves that extend all the way to the sea.
From the centre of Delfi village, which is where the E4 European long distance path crosses, we will follow an ancient footpath towards Chrysso village. We will then go down a dirt path until we reach an olive grove, which is the place with the least elevation on our route (40m) (WATER FOUNTAIN). We will cross the olive grove through small tractor paths (used only for the harvest of olives). Attention is required at the 186.5km, where we will take an underpass to cross the National Road of Itea-Amphissa. We will then run gradually uphill until we reach Sernikaki village at 190km. (WATER). From then on, an uphill footpath will take us to a vertical rise of rocks. The only pass is the well-known ‘Portes’, where we will cross over to the small meadow of Ag. Efthymia. The old trail has now become a small dirt road for the largest part, leading to the village of Ag. Efthymia (195km.) with a mild uphill slope. Here we find AID STATION 7.
As we go down to the bottom of the village, crossing through a dirt road lined with dry stone right and left, we will find ourselves in ‘Gardiki’ meadow. Soon we will enter a creek through an almost flat footpath. We will then run along an asphalt road and at the 202.5km we will reach the centre of Vounihora (WATER FOUNTAIN).
Here we begin a strenuous ascent to mount Kokkinari (part of mount Ghiona). We will follow the asphalt for 1km and, just past the last houses, will take a right to a small uphill rural road. After 1km, we will go off that road to follow a trail inside a creek, where at times we will come across the dirt road. At the 207km we will reach the highest point at 1310m. looking down to a breathtaking view at lake Mornos. We will then go down a small forest track, then on to a footpath. ATTENTION: From kilometre 209 to 210 lies the most technical trail of the route. The terrain is flimsy, therefore extra care is required when going down, as it is a relatively steep slope. As we come out to an asphalt road, we will take a right (towards the north) to reach the centre of Malandrino at the 211km marker, at a 570m elevation (WATER).
There follows an easy crossing through the meadow of Malandrino. After we go down to the meadow from the village, we will vertically cross the old National Road of Itea-Lidoriki. A small rural road will take us to a trail leading to the village of Vraila (217km. at a 600m. elevation). Here we find AID STATION 8.
We will follow the asphalt for 1km downhill heading south. We will turn right (west) and head uphill on the dirt road. Ahead of us, two hills (Vouni and Aetovouni) are effectively “blocking” our route. In between is Vathyrema gorge. An impressive footpath has been carved into the south bank of the gorge, used in antiquity to access the mountains of Dorida. We run alongside the gorge (water is drinkable). We then take a right to head north, and will go up a steep incline for 1 km to reach a dirt road. We will follow the dirt road for 1km more, then switch to a footpath that will take us up to an anonymous peak at 1178m. with a chapel that looks down to lake Mornos. We are now at the 224.5km marker.
The descent from that peak is a beautiful trail leading to Bouhori Ridge above the villages of Milia and Stylia (at an altitude of 1000m.). This col has a beautiful view to all surrounding mountains and the sea of Eratini. This is the beginning of the final extended ascent of the race, that the amazing oak forest will definitely make up for. A mild dirt path will lead us to a dirt road. We will follow that dirt road, passing by the first wind turbine, only to get back on the footpath on a now alpine terrain. At the 232km we are now at the top of mount Trikorfa, at an altitude of 1450m (CHECKPOINT WITH WATER). An exquisite view to the high mountains of Roumeli (Ghiona, Vardousia) and the gulf of Corinth to the south, and the mountains of the Peloponnese (Helmos, Ziria, Erymanthos, Panachaiko).
A fantastic downhill trail through the fir trees will be a great opportunity to pick up speed for those who still feel up to it. A short uphill section leads to the chapel of Ag. Constantinos, then turns downward. Along the dirt road we will come to a cement water tank (236km, 700m. altitude) (drinkable water is available in portable containers).
From there we follow the downhill dirt road through the oak and pine forest. After 9 km. (at 244.2km) we meet asphalt and head right where in 200m we find the entrance to the "Theatraki" of Teichio and the finish line after 245 tiring but beautiful kilometers!