Pavel Rozanov is Talking Trail Running

At the end of Q2 in this year's Asia Trail Master Championship series we find an odd-one out, if one could say so, on the race calendar. The Altai Ultra Trail is certainly the most remote event of all, but that should not deter anyone. In fact, the Altai Ultra Trail is a popular race in Siberian Russia and the area where it takes place is quite simply breathtaking. Being one with nature is no exaggeration when out there! Moreover, the event is held over several days and offers various race distances and even a three-day-duo team race. The organiser and race director knows the Altai area like the back of his hand. Pavel Rozanov grew up in the closest city Novosibirsk and is a mountaineering fiend. Via the Altai Ultra Trail, which he set up last year (it was an ATM Candidate Race, too) Pavel wishes to show his native region to the world. A great opportunity to get to know Pavel Rozanov a bit better, and we were happy to talk trail running with him! If you are keen on joining him and his team, check out our cover page of the Altai Ultra Trail event, which has links to the registration module on the event's own website. Please note that registrations are ending next week. 

By Kris Van de Velde

Q:Where were you born and did you grow up ?

PR: I was born and grew up in Novosibirsk (unofficially dubbed "the capital city of Siberia”); after graduation from the University I moved to Moscow and lived there for 15 years until finally returning to Novosibirsk 3 years ago.

Q: What created your interest in running and trail running in particular?
My interest in trail running stems from my continuous mountaineering activity in the past which gradually transformed into this just as mountain-involving but a less risky activity.

Q: Are you a runner yourself? What's been some of your greatest performances? 
Yes, I do practice trail running with great inspiration but for myself I prefer individual self-supported treks (as opposed to organized races).

Q: What do you do for a living?
I am a manager of architectural design projects.

Q:The Altai Ultra Trail attracts a lot of attention. How would you describe the event in a nutshell?
The Altai Ultra-Trail is a wild demanding race in a WILDLY beautiful environment.

Q: Should non-Russian speakers be worried about making the long trip to Altai?
While the trip is long there is nothing to worry about because once you take our shuttle bus in the Novosibirsk airport (or in downtown Novosibirsk) all you really have to take care of is taking pictures, and that is especially true about the second part of the journey (the Chuysky Trakt) which was named one of the most amazing and scenic roads in the world by the National Geographic magazine. And when you reach the start area our English-speaking volunteers will help you with all the arrangements so I'm sure the language problems are overestimated. A lot of foreign tourists and mountaineers visit this region of Altai every season, so the staff of the local hotels/base camps is used to dealing with foreigners.

The shuttle bus from Novosibirsk to the starting point of the race and back  is on request, runners need to fill in an application form when registering for the race. Estimated dates are 27/06, 28/06, 29/06, with departure at 21:00-22:00 from the city center. Total travel time is approximately 14-15 hours. Other options available upon request. 

Q: Being in such a remote place, how do you handle runner's security?
The race takes place on the territory of the Belukha Nature Park. While it's a remote place it is also a touristic spot so it's in everyone’s interest to ensure safety there. In addition, the organizers arrange insurance policy for every runner so a helicopter evacuation will be organized in case of heavy injury during the race.

Q: What's the highest altitude runners reach during the Altai Ultra Trail?
The highest altitude runners reach is 3060 meters, two spots at the 105th and 155th km of the race. For the 50 km race the highest point is approx 2600 meters.

What is your ambition for this event? 
Of course we would like to see our race among the worthiest races of the Ultra-trail World Tour... But speaking more realistically, the aim is to engage more and more strong trail runners.

Q: Can you say a bit more about the area in which the event takes place?
The race takes place on the territory of the Belukha Nature Park. It is part of the World Heritage Site dubbed The Golden Mountains of Altai. The region represents an important and original centre of biodiversity of mountain plant and animal species in northern Asia, a number of which are rare and endemic. Mt. Belukha is not only the highest point of all Siberia, it's also a sacred mountain for native Altai people.

Q: Talking about trekking, how tough is the climb on Mt Belukha? 
It’s not very tough, meaning that anyone in good physical condition could climb Mt. Belukha. At 4509 m it is the highest Siberian mountain. It's worth to keep in mind though that it takes at least 3 days from the base camp, provided the weather is good.

Q: Is trail running popular in Siberian Russia?
Trail running is becoming more and more popular following the trend in the rest of the world, I suppose. Some years ago nobody knew about trail running but now a lot of people practice trail running and still more are interested in giving it a shot.

Q: What is the connection between Altai Ultra Trail, and another ATM points race, the Tengri Ultra Trail in Kazakhstan? 
We collaborate and promote each other; and as a bonus, winners of one race can participate in the other without an entry fee.

Q: Is it easy for Russian runners to travel abroad to other trail races in the Asia Trail Master championship series?
No, it’s not easy because they are in remote locations, especially for runners from the European part of Russia. Also, the trail races of the Asia Trail Master series unfortunately are less known than the European trail races so that runners would rather go to Europe to run there than going to Asia.

Q: How do you see the future development of trail running in Russia?
One can only hope that the quantity of both races and trail runners will one day turn into quality :)

Q: Many athletics federations in Asia do not recognise trail running as a genuine discipline. How's that in Russia?
We had the same problem here in Russia, however this year the situation has started to change. The Russian Athletics Federation established a trail running committee which now cooperates with Russian Trail Running Association in order to specify trail running as a genuine discipline.

Q: Should trail running become recognised as an olympic sport?
 I don’t think it`s possible, or necessary for that matter. So much depends on the weather or a specific terrain where the race is held… there are just too many variables.

Q: What is your favourite piece of running music?
Actually, I enjoy the sounds of nature; my running music is singing of birds, whispering rustling of leaves and soft patter of rain.