Tri týždne na vrchol – Three weeks to the top – 2nd edition

Three months ago sometimes, in January, just for fun, I joined the virtual challenge Tri týždne na vrchol (Three weeks to the top). Three weeks (21 days) long climbing challenge with very simple rules. Accumulate as much elevation as you can as long as each activity has average speed faster than 5km/hour (12mins/km). It did not go too well for me. My very first activity was nice, over 1600m, but thanks to treacherous winter mountain terrain it was too slow. So it did not count. I slowly clawed back the deficit, made it to the lead after a week or so. But then on day 13 (lucky number 🙂 ) I slipped on invisible ice, landed backside on a root and could barely walk for 3 weeks after that. Game over.

So when the second edition was announced I decided to go for it again. Of course there is that competitive part of the challenge but for me it was mainly a personal challenge – see what I can do, how high and far can I make it in 3 weeks.


With a challenge like this one needs to find the right ratio between distance and elevation. The steeper the climbs and descents the less distance is needed but it means more strain on the leg muscles, mainly quads. And also you may be cutting it close to the speed limit if the profile of your run is too steep… In the past few months I scouted 2 suitable areas and decided to focus on those. The fall during the January challenge also tough me a lesson – do not experiment with routes. Pick your routes and stick to them…

I set my initial target at 30,000m. So 1,500m a day was the base that would create some buffer in case something goes wrong on some days. Any extra elevation on any given day would be a bonus and an extra buffer – as long as I felt it was safe to push more injury-wise.

The first week went well. The first three days in Lietava / Skalky area extended on day 3 with run all the way to Žibrid. On day 4 I went to Čipčie for few loops. Rest of the week was spent around Lietava / Skalky again. The weekend runs were longer with some flat sections added to employ also some other leg muscles for a change. Weather was good in general, wildlife cooperated (deer, wild boar). At the end of the week I was at 12,776m (165.49km). Slightly ahead of plan thanks to several 2,000m+ days.

Lietava Castle from Skalky

The second week I started again in Lietava / Skalky area, then moving to Čipčie for the next 3 days and back to Lietava / Skalky for Friday and Saturday. After the Saturday run I could already feel that some rest is needed. The tough previous 13 days that included eight 2,000m days (5 of them in a row) were taking their toll especially on my right quad. If I was to survive the next 7 days an easy day was needed. I picked a mild climb on a forest road nearby, mostly concrete (for a change) and did an easy walk up jog down repeats until these 60m climbs accumulated to about 1,000m, very easy 1,000m. This did the trick (change of gradient, surface, shoes, pace) and on Monday all was good again. After week 2 I was at 25,461m (336.46km).

I started the final week with 2,000m+ day on Čipčie (4 loops) and then another one there (3 loops) the next day. On Wednesday I needed to go next door to Martin. While there I had few hours to kill – this was the only day I ventured away from my pre-planned routes. I went up to Veľká Lúka and once up on the mountain I did few more repeats on the ski slope to make the day worthwhile at about 1,500m. The next day it was back to Čipčie – a tough day, the legs were already feeling it… The day 19 (Lietava / Skalky) was a bit better until the weather took a sudden turn. With a last hill to get over the sky turned from blue to black in minutes, flash of lightning followed by loud thunder and then 20 minutes of relentless hailstorm. My head got proper massage… The last 2 days were just about surviving it till the end without any damage done to the body. Lietava / Skalky only, 1,400m on Saturday on a very tired legs. On Sunday the final day I packed only a can of beer for that ceremonial drink at the end of the final climb of the challenge. I duly drank it but not before I climbed a hill more than I planned making also the last day a 1,000m+ day. And not before I managed my first and luckily the only tumble of these 3 weeks.

That beer at the end

The total after 21 days – 36,724m climbed (and descended) with 491.46km needed to achieve this accumulated elevation.

Was easy ? – Definitely not.

Could more be done ? – Possibly a bit. But judging from the state of my legs and especially my quads pushing significantly further would be at greatly increased risk of an injury. And the whole point of this challenge for me was to find out how high (and far) can I safely push in 3 weeks.

Would I do this again ? – The challenge itself for fun probably yes. To push full on like this for 3 weeks – that I am not so sure. Effort like this takes a toll on the body, mind and life in general given the amount of time one has to devote to it. Not something one can do on regular basis…

Overall results – click here

How it went day after day

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