Our first edition took place in 2022. The start was in the city of Reus, Tarragona on May 20 at 19:00.
There were a total of 28 participants, 26 riding solo and one team per couple.
The route covered a total of 1,400 kilometers with 24,000 meters of positive elevation gain and three checkpoints located in the Monasterio de Sant Pere de Rodes, Port de la Bonaigua, and Mont Caro.
The fastest participant to cover the entire distance was Oriol Chias, with a total time of 3 days and 5 hours 55 minutes.
A total of 72% of the riders who took the start managed to finish the entire route within the official time.
A continuación encontraréis una serie de diarios que fuimos publicando cada día en la página de DotWatcher a medida que el evento avanzaba. La idea era reflejar el estado de la aventura, posición de los corredores, algunas de sus anécdotas y el ambiente que se respiraba:
Day 0: Nightcall
The first edition of Kromvojoj started at a furious pace, despite the participants could ride in groups for the first 50 kilometers the attacks did not take long to arrive and Aleix Mayor, Oriol Chias and Toni Calderón took the first positions accompanied by Lael Wilcox. The head of the race reached Igualada in less than 3 hours, 90 kilometers from the start. As soon as she reached this point Anna Bello was the first rider to scratch and around 11:30 pm, Sergi López reported a collision with a deer between Igualada and Manresa. Fortunately, he is safe and still active in his journey.
After Collsuspina the pace began to slow down and the climb to Taradell alternated changes in the leading positions, a group that was joined by Xavi Burgos, in his first ultra, and Francesc W.
David Burgoa and Ferran Bargas are following Xavi’s dot as the best-placed beginners after midnight, followed by Weronika Szalas and India Clare.
We expect the first riders to arrive at CP1 in the morning, around 9-10 am, plus a very strong heat which can cause an unexpected change in participants’ pace.
Day 1: Highs on caffeine and electrolytes
The second day is over with changes at the head of the race, being led by Oriol Chias in front of Xavier Burgos and Toni Calderon, with almost 600km completed.
The first three are closely followed by Francesc and Lael Wilcox, who is gaining positions as the route gains altitude. They are followed by two locals Aleix and Ferran who are completing a remarkable debut. Completing the top 10 are Javier Garcia Reboredo, Sergi Lopez and David Burgoa. Weronika and Sophie complete the women’s top three near the 500km mark.
The middle and final group has been affected by heat or stomach problems as in the case of Matt Ryan and India Clare at the beginning of the day and recovering their strength after passing CP1. Javier Lopez, after spending the night in a luxury hotel, has had a hilarious presence on his way through the CP1 as a result of high caffeine consumption.
Augusto, after a long stop in Girona, and the Superacció team, with Lahcen and Zouhair, end the general classification.
We expect the first participants to arrive at CP2 at around 8 am tomorrow morning, accumulating nearly 9,000 meters of elevation gain in 430km from CP1 to CP2 at the Port de la Bonaigua.
Day 2: Sunday always comes too late
What a day! Sunday’s started at 3 AM with Augusto Vallvé arriving at CP1 after a long rest in Girona and buying supplies to face the temperature changes between the hot range during the days and the sudden drop of temperatures during the night.
Lahcen and Zouhair, from the Superacció team, arrived around 11 AM to seal CP1 and set off towards CP2 with the goal to check in 48 hours.
CP2 was conquered by Oriol Chias at around 2 PM in the first position after taking advantage of the long breaks of Xavier Burgos and Toni Calderón who arrived at Port de la Bonaigua around 6 pm and continue in their pursuit of Oriol in the second and third place respectively. Francesc is still in fourth place after reaching CP3 and intends to rest once the night falls.
The rest of the top 10 is very animated, having climbed the Port del Cantó and are now fighting for the climb to Bonaigua. Lael is in the sixth position, chasing Javier Reboredo, fifth. Weronika and Sophie are seventh and ninth, with Matt Ryan in the eighth position. Sergi López, despite his fall on the first night, closes the top ten.
The middle part, led by Josep Tarrés, who despite stopping every night to sleep keeps a high pace, and tonight we will have to keep an eye on Pep Sánchez, who has slept during the day to avoid the hottest hours and aims to advance throughout the night.
David Burgoa started the day with significant pain in his knee but seems to have managed to keep going with renewed energy.
The rest of the group continues on, currently in the Ripoll area with the Collada de Toses and Coll de la Creueta ahead. India Clare has reported pain in her left hand but her legs and mentality push her to keep going with a contagious enthusiasm to continue enjoying the adventure.
The Superacció team finishes the day on its way to Camprodón, after reaching the Col d’Ares in its objective of completing CP2 on Tuesday.
Unfortunately today we had to notify the withdrawal of two participants, Aleix Mayor after completing an incredible first 500km. His body could not withstand the high temperatures putting at risk his recovery taking the difficult decision to abandon despite the illusion shown at all times. Sergi Gomà withdrew at midday, after completing 580km and not being able to continue at the expected and desired pace.
Tomorrow CP3 opens at Mont Caro and we expect the arrival of the first three participants in the early and mid-afternoon. We will see if Xavier and Toni are able to reduce the gap with Oriol, who is currently showing himself to be a solid and determined leader. The rest of the day will show us the consequences of today’s day with the high volume of climbs and the high temperatures, which have reached around 40 degrees Celsius.
Day 3: Be brave, clenched fist
The early morning of the third day started with Matt and Weronika passing CP2 without stamping their brevet card due to poor visibility at night in the area. Our team had to run after them to find them sleeping at a bus stop and stamp their card. During the whole adventure, they also witnessed a spectacular meteorite. We thought the story was the result of the accumulated fatigue, but today we have confirmed its veracity in the news.
The Parcours through CP2 left many anecdotes, such as Josep Tarrés breaking his frame bag and losing lots of accessories. Today he has been able to buy some of the essential materials to continue.
Some cyclists really struggled yesterday to find some food, pushing themselves, like Ferran Bargas who didn’t eat anything for almost 6 hours. He ordered a huge meal when he reach “El Rey del Bocata” in Vielha. A place called “Sandwich king”, imagine the size of the bite!
Jose Garcia Reboredo was spotted by Francesc in a full-body bee-bath to cool down. The problems with the heat continued today, due to the extreme temperatures through the territory between CP2 and CP3, as well as the lack of places to buy food and drinks.
Lael Wilcox continues to be the first female rider in the lead despite suffering a double puncture in the Vielha tunnel and spending up to an hour repairing it in the dark of the tunnel. Then she had to wait to find a bike shop and change tires, with another hour stopping her. Weronika and Sophie continue at a good pace and we hope they reach the top of CP3 tomorrow, Tuesday. India Claire, despite the pain in her left hand, is still in good spirits and hopefully will reach the top of CP2 tomorrow. We declare ourselves supporters of her stories on Instagram throughout the whole journey. Javier López ends the day resting in a hotel just two hours from the summit of La Bonaigua, where we hope the rest of the participants will arrive tomorrow.
The third day ends with Oriol Chias about to complete the journey and be the first participant to cross the finish line after 3 days and a few hours since the start of the race. So brilliant! Xavier Burgos, after reaching the summit of Caro, is on his way to the Delta to consolidate second place ahead of Toni Calderón, who is resting before completing CP3. Behind him is Francesc, and we hope there will be a duel for third and fourth place. The management of resting seems will be decisive.
Day 4: Doomsday
From 40 to -1, that’s how we could resume a day that blew any forecast. If you should never trust, in terms of weather, high mountains, today we had a clear example.
CP2 in La Bonaigua has been hit by a storm that has caused temperatures to drop below 5 degrees Celsius. The day started off intensely, with Iban Bealta showing signs of hypothermia, he had to take refuge in one of our vehicles and has recovered positively after a few hours in a hostel. He is now being sheltered until the weather is stable again.
Throughout the day, Javier López and Augusto Vallvé managed to overcome the drastic adverse conditions, leaving the difference in altitude a small detail in their journey. The Superacció team was no less, being forced to make a small bonfire, safely, dry some of their material and continue on.
On the way to CP3 Ferran Bargas had a double puncture on the Col d’Ares and had to walk about 21 km, as he didn’t have enough spare parts, and was able to repair it in the town of Ager.
In our CP3 the day started cloudy, giving small signs of what was to come. Francesc reached the top at around 6 am. At the arrival of Lael Wilcox the fog and rain began to make their presence and intensified at midday after the arrival of Weronika. In the early afternoon, torrential rain and strong wind lashed the whole area from CP3 to the Delta and Reus. Matt Ryan, Javier Garcia Reboredo, Sergi Lopez, and Sophie Fail were affected on the climb to CP3. The wind gusts were close to 80km/h, putting the riders at risk on the descents. Matt Ryan had to get into a car to complete the descent for safety. He is currently resting in Tortosa to climb back and complete the remaining descent tomorrow.
Luckily we already have new participants having completed the adventure, Toni Calderon in the early hours of the morning has become the third to cross the finish line and Francesc the fourth. Lael Wilcox is the fifth participant to finish and the first female to finish Kromvojoj. Throughout tonight we expect the arrival of Weronika and Javier Garcia Reboredo.
We’ll see what the weather conditions are like for tomorrow, but we expect about nearly half of the riders on the road to complete CP3 during the day, as at night temperatures are expected to be below 0 degrees and the wind is blowing at 80-90 km/h. Those on their way to the Delta, whose tracks are flooded by the downpour, will have to be skillful to reach Reus and add their name to the list of finishers of this already memorable first edition.
Day 5: There will be quiet, after the storm
Licking their wounds is not the attitude of the Kromvojoj participants, at least not as long as the adventure continues! Despite the harsh weather conditions on the fourth day, the riders decided to continue their mission to conquer CP3 in Mont Caro or the finish line in Reus.
Javier Garcia Reboredo and Weronika managed to arrive in the early hours of the morning in Reus and put the fifth and last stamp on their brevet card. Reboredo was able to hold on in the rain, as the Galician saying goes “Si chove que chova“. Weronika, on the other hand, had to solve navigation problems with her Garmin before reaching the Delta, and she had to complete the last 100 kilometers by checking the route manually with her phone.
Matt Ryan slept, had breakfast, and got the bike ready by resting in a hotel in Tortosa. He recovered his strength to repeat part of the climb of the Caro, after his descent by car due to the adverse conditions. The Welshman, despite being a great climber, acknowledged during his passage through the Delta to be enjoying the scenery around him and the pleasant sensation of riding on the flat between rice fields, migratory bird watching areas such as flamingos, and reaching to touch the Mediterranean Sea at the end of the Delta. Matt arrived in Reus and finished his participation in Kromvojoj, an event that he has supported from the first moment being an important part of his advice and collaboration. See you soon Chief and best of luck with the next Pan Celtic Race!
Sophie, after a tough climb to CP3, arrived in Reus showing obvious signs of exhaustion and broke down in sweet tears of happiness on completing the course. There was an emotional hug with Lael on arrival and she confirms the presence of three female participants among the top 10 participants.
CP3 was quiet, with no incursions until 4 p.m. when Ferran Bargas arrived and told us that he had spent the whole night under a downpour in the area of the approach to the port, in Porrera. At the top of the climb, his greatest wish was to arrive in the evening and enjoy pizza and beer, a classic in the Kromvojoj diet these days. For 2023 we will ask Telepizza for sponsorship, let’s see if the pact is consummated in the next days, after the finishers party on Friday.
Behind Ferran came Pep Sánchez after the ordeal of the previous day. He had to spend the night in a hostel, the second one he had booked the same day, due to the downpour. With symptoms of hypothermia, he went into the shower dressed until he regained sensations throughout his body. On the way to the Caro he cracked one of his tires, Pep’s visits to the bike shops have been constant throughout the route. His decision was clear, to finish the ride the same night.
While Ferran and Pep made their descent to Tortosa, Josep Tarrés reached the summit of Caro. Fresh and full of energy, he admitted to having enjoyed the climb despite having accumulated 1,180km in his legs. Josep has been sleeping and resting as much as necessary in hotels every night. He has not exceeded the limits of fatigue and this has allowed him to enjoy the route with all his senses. His attitude was clear and not competitive. All in all, Josep is the 13th person to cross the finish line.
Back to Ferran and Pep, they arrived at the finish line in the evening and were greeted by a good number of dotwatchers and family members on their arrival.
CP3 completely changed weather conditions and after a spectacular sunset, the wind returned to the summit with gusts that compromised the arrival of Enric, David, and Rui. The Portuguese advanced many meters walking over the 22km to the summit. After overcoming the last col they headed straight to the Delta with the idea of finishing the sixth day.
Behind and competing for the lantern rouge are Augusto Vallvé and the Superacció team, who we hope will crown or approach Monte Caro on Thursday. Iban Bealta closes the active classification, after two days of rest in Vielha after flirting intensely with hypothermia at Bonaigua, CP2, cycling with vest and arm warmers below five degrees. Legends never die.
India Clare, despite scratching due to problems with her left hand, decided to rest, shortcut part of the route and continue on her adventure called alt-kromvojoj. Her route will be shorter but with the same merit and who knows, maybe her track will allow us to present two alternative routes in 2023. We declare ourselves unconditional fans of her Instagram stories and narrative.
To finish the report of the day, we don’t want to forget Juan Carlos Carrillo who scratched on the third day on his way to Port del Cantó, Josep Maria Mia Guardiet who took the same decision in Sort, and Javier López in Pobla de Segur. All of them are due to serious problems with their butts and not being able to continue enjoying the adventure sitting on their bikes. We wish them all the best and a speedy recovery. We hope to see them again soon!
We finished the day between beers and pizzas at the finish line, waiting for more participants and not forgetting the appearance of a surprise cake to celebrate the 44th birthday of our race director, Joan Carrillo. Happy birthday from all the team, we love you mate!
Day 6 and 7: Like Diamonds in the Sky
After a series of different experiences, the riders who were still active managed to reach the finish line. During the night of Wednesday and accompanied by strong gusts of wind, David, Enric Terricabras, and Rui managed to crown CP3 including some falls on the dangerous descent of the colossal Mont Caro. Rui, after almost half of the ascent walking, had the pleasure of eating shawarma at the summit, while he prepared his warm clothes to face the demanding conditions of low visibility at night and wind during the descent.
The three brave cyclists continued their journey to cross the Delta and reach Reus between the morning and the afternoon of Thursday. Their experience, as well as the race itself, was coming to an end. On Thursday, Iban Bealta continued his march to make up for the time stopped in Vielha waiting for better weather conditions. Between Iban and Reus we had Augusto Vallvé and the Superacció team. The three of them slept in Tortosa on Thursday, in front of Mont Caro. In order to continue their march and conquer the summit early on Friday morning, and have enough time to reach Reus in time for the Finisher’s Party. Lahcen and Zouhair crossed the finish line early in the afternoon and between beers and smiles they told us how much they had enjoyed the adventure, including stories such as a viper that came out in their path crossing the Pyrenees and got caught in Zouhair’s wheel in an aggressive attitude.
Around 7 pm we moved to the Jardins de la Casa Rull, a modernist architectural space where we had gathered the participants, family, friends, and dotwatchers. Between glasses of beer and soft drinks, accompanied by good music, we enjoyed the anecdotes told by the participants. There were moments for everything, from the tears of emotion with Ferran, a local rider making his debut in a long-distance event. To the immeasurable laughter generated by the stage skills of India and Matt Ryan, Weronika and her race tactics. We were also able to enjoy the memories of Lael, who highlighted the family and spirit of the event; as well as Oriol who had the pleasure of sharing his dizzying adventure in Kromvojoj to be the first rider to complete the loop.
Sophie shared the anecdote of how she was mistaken for a lifeless corpse when she was found sleeping and protected by her insulated blanket in an abandoned little farmhouse, and a farmer decided to call the police without approaching. Francesc, during one of the many ascents, felt like he was part of a Mario Kart game, surrounded by thousands of turtles that overtook him on the steep road. How tricky the mind can be when we don’t give it a well-deserved rest. Toni Calderón pointed out how, having reached a decisive point in the event, and aware that he would not be able to win, he decided to stop competing and enjoy the environment and his experiences.
Despite the endless stories and anecdotes, the highlight of the party was the arrival of Augusto Vallvé, the penultimate to cross the final line and who was awaited by a dozen friends and family members. Creating a moment of special recognition and joy.
After Augusto’s arrival, Iban Bealta became the last cyclist to complete the Kromvojoj route, arriving in Reus on Saturday afternoon, accompanied by three friends for the last kilometers.
With his arrival, the first edition of Kromvojoj comes to an end and it is time to rest and digest all the emotions experienced and contained during the last few days. At this point, we can recognize that we could not have had a better cast of participants. Varied and rich in humanity and personalities. All the work done over the last few years has been fully rewarded by the affection and support that our participants have received every day and that has reached us as well.
Enjoying every one of the smiles and words of the brave people who took the starting line on 20 May was the best and greatest testimony we could have hoped for when we started working on this adventure.
We would also like to highlight a large number of people, both strangers and friends, who came out to cheer on the road the riders of this event. To date, Catalonia has not known an event of this kind, and we hope to have planted the seed locally to start the dotwatcher movement and the desire to explore our own territory.
Thanks, everybody for following our riders the last few days, and see you next year!