[ Report ]
The OG team relay race of Europe.

And yes, it is not a typo, it is actually Hel –
the Polish town on the Hel Peninsula in the Baltic Sea.

Six people, at least two of them women, one RV and one bike.
Two people are always on the course.
One – running, another – following on the bike.
No support, no stops, no quitting.
BTH 2024 facts:

7th edition, 21 teams, 2 solo runners, 128 runners in total.
For the first time one all-female team.
New route – 466 km, 2439m elevation gain.
The fastest team: Smiles For Miles (YFR) – 31h 48 mins.
The difference between first and last: 12h.
Despite the fact that this is a running relay race, the whole essence and pleasure of this event is not in the competition. Running along with sleep deprivation are here as tools to clear the mind of unnecessary husks, to get incredibly vivid emotions and impressions. In the morning, after 24 hours of running, without sleep, at dawn, when the sun breaks through the morning fog, you can't help but get teary-eyed at the whole experience. Rarely does one get the opportunity to be present in the moment so clearly and so vividly as during this race.
Camper, for its part, restricts your living space to such an extent that you begin to let your teammates into your personal space so deeply, that there are no longer overhead social barriers between you, and you all communicate extremely openly and honestly, you don't shy away from being vulnerable with each other.
Don't get it wrong, this race is no walk in the park. A self-supported ultra relay race combined with a low profile and under the radar punk vibe makes it even more challenging. The amount of stuff the team has to sort out before the race is huge – RV rental, race strategy, navigation, nutrition plan, gear preparation, bike stuff and so on. All this preparation is as much a part of the game as the race itself. Each team member will end up with 80km of mileage and a severe lack of sleep. At some point, even basic arithmetic like 2+2 becomes an impossible task. And it comes in handy to have everything prepared beforehand.
At the most basic level there is an interaction with your own body. It is interesting to see how fatigue builds up, how it affects your emotions, how new, previously unexplored possibilities and hidden reserves of your body open up. Interacting with a teammate during a shift is the next layer. You are sharing this moment together, you are in a similar mental and physical state at this particular point in space, having similar experiences with the natural surroundings, the smells of the forests and fields, the midday sun, the refreshing wind, the thunderous rain, the darkness of the night or the morning mist.

Your emotions are unique, yet similar, you are living this moment together and it will be remembered by both of you.

Following layer is a team interaction. During the race, the team functions as a single organism, where there is no strict hierarchy or clearly defined rules of interaction. Self-organization. Constant improvisation. Lack of automatism. All this turns on the maximum settings of amplification of the perception of the current moment.

The next layer is cross-team interaction. Those mixed feelings of competition and togetherness. After all, there aren't many people willing to go on such an adventure.

The soft, cool sand of the Baltic coast, the harsh northern sea, beautiful, refined, elegant, but absolutely no joke. Crossing the finish line. Two more steps. The freezing, invigorating water instantly washes away fatigue, leaving only a feeling of euphoria. A special kind of euphoria only available to you, to the members of the team, to participants of this race.

You end up with a very powerful experience that you'll be digesting for weeks to come. It can be compared to a psychedelic experience, when you feel the trail of a trip for many days afterwards. But when the emotions settle down, in the background of your mind you start to have that thought what about the next year?

Border To Hel, v.7, 2024.

Made possible by Swords Athletics & New Balance.

POV Stormrunners: Pavel, Pyotr, Lou, Igor, Anna, Alex, Jonas.


Thank you and see you all in Hel.
Made by TECHUNTER Magazine.
Produced by TECHUNTER Media.

Words: Pavel Semenov [Stormrunners Captain].
Ph, edit: Jonas Kolahdoozan.
Layout, prod: Alexander Zabelin [THM].