A record 22,000 entries have been received for the XVII NN Ultrabalaton, Hungary’s most popular mass sports event, which starts on Friday. The one-lap race around Lake Balaton is also the longest-running race in Central Europe, which can be run individually, in relay, by foot, or by bike.
According to the organizers, 250 runners will tackle the 211-kilometer race, which runs until Sunday. The center of the race will be in Balatonfüred, where the János Bogár exhibition will be on display. Seventeen of the legendary ultra runner’s goblets, out of his hundreds, will be exhibited there.
At the Balaton race center, there will be sporting activities and prizes, while at the Balatonlelle relay point, runners will be offered refreshments, hot drinks at night and refreshing massages.
The World Athletics Championships in Budapest in August will also be represented at the Ultrabalaton, as the event at Lake Balaton is one of the highlights of the Heroes’ Square Supporters’ Club’s national roadshow leading up to the World Championships.
“The organizers of the World Championships are aiming to get as many people as possible to take up sport and lead healthier lives. And those who already play sports and take action for their health can watch the world stars of athletics at a discounted price,” says the organizers in a statement, according to which all participants of the Ultrabalaton can buy tickets for the World Championships with a 50 percent discount.
This year, for the fifth time, the BioTechUSA Group and Ultrabalaton are offering participants the opportunity to donate the deposit on their timing chips to charity instead of redeeming them or to donate any amount they wish. The three institutions that received the most votes – the Peter Cerny Foundation, the Bethesda Children’s Hospital, and the St. George’s University Teaching Hospital in Fejér County – will receive the grants.
The unprecedented challenge at Lake Balaton was first launched in 2007, when 200 people took part in the Ultrabalaton race, but by 2019 the number of participants had exceeded 13,000 and last year 17,000. The event has now grown into a real running fiesta and has become a favorite among ultra runners.
With 27 hours for larger teams and 31 hours for individuals to complete the distance, the organizers have lifted the limit for large teams and are expecting more than 50 relay and refreshment points for Saturday’s team race.
One of Hungary’s most famous ultra runners, Szilvia Lubics, will also compete in this year’s Ultrabalaton race. She is the only female winner in the history of the NN Ultrabalaton, who managed to top the overall rankings while winning the women’s category.
Featured photo via Facebook/NN Ultrabalaton