Maxim Mikhailov paddled 100km by SUP across Lake Onega, Russia in thick fog, a journey that took him 18 hours 45mins to complete. Maxim documented his paddle and has been kind enough to share his story with us.
Each adventure begins with an idea, then preparing and implementing the project.
On the calendar winter 2021, I think about organizing another solo ultramarathon. For training, I chose the usual strategy, to ride in any weather conditions. Thus, I got acquainted with the water area in Losevo – this is the only water that is available all year round. Gradually, the ice came down from the Neva and the Gulf of Finland, the weather continued to please with the harsh conditions, which I used to quickly prepare for the race.
This time, I planned the whole race exclusively on sports nutrition. Therefore, thanks to training, it was possible to choose and approve the best option for food and drink. I tested all the equipment I planned to take with me. I’ll say so, this is an important point. Let me remind you that the race was planned in mid-May, in the North of the Leningrad region. Weather surprises and temperature fluctuations are relevant for this season.
It is located at the junction of Lake Onega and the Svir River. During the expedition, we were provided with a cottage, for which we thank them separately. This region is interesting for organizing outdoor activities, so in the video I spent so much time to get acquainted with this site. The beauty of untouched nature and the cleanest water at a distance of 400 km from the city.. If you’re going to visit the Svir River and Lake Onega, consider staying at least two days.
Ultramarathon on SUP on Lake Onega is not only a personal desire to conquer a long distance, but also to tell about the beauty of the Leningrad region and Karelia, so 78 TV channels acted as an information partner. Thank you for your participation and support.
The boat and outboard motor for the escort team provided by the guys from https://x-river.ru Just before the start, they calculated the possible fuel consumption, and as a result it was pleasantly surprised. But the necessary volume was certainly taken with a reserve. There’s a forest around and no one but us.
The race was on a carbon board, it’s worth saying thank you https://atlaswatersport.com guys accelerated its appearance at my disposal. I will inform you right away that the entire expedition was made its own resources and financial capabilities, and I am very glad that I managed to realize this difficult and expensive adventure.
So, I introduce you to the team members. Maxim Zhukov supported him as a driver and transport support on the shore. Photographer Yevgeny Miklin volunteered to hold the steering wheel periodically, and to record the entire expedition in the camera lens. When at night or at dawn with +18 heat, the temperature fell to +1/+2 degrees, with his hands shaking from the cold, he continued to take pictures to get such cool pictures.
A navigator and boatmaster, a man who, based on the complexity of this water area, competently built a route and led us through the fog, Andrey Lupikin. These guys shake hands and you can safely go to the next races with such participants.
So, on the calendar on May 15, 2021, we loaded all the equipment in the car, on the way we stopped for the photographer and went towards the recreation center. Murmansk highway on weekends in a dense stream, we drive to get to the ferry crossing over the Svir River at 21:00. We flew 400 km, and there’s already a ferry, as at the end of the pre-launch day we’re already on the base.
In parallel, on the phone, we coordinate the route and its delivery to Petrozavodsk with Andrey. I’ll say that the whole dwidge was originally planned in a different area, but here there are no options, I had to change everything.
Dinner, start of video recording, final briefing. At night, of course, a thunderstorm thundered, the stormy wind blew out and it rained heavily, you don’t want to want to, but you’ll have to wake up from such special effects.
May 16, at 7 a.m. Alarm clocks, breakfast and go to shoot material for the planned film, and at the same time our acquaintance with the site.
Before offering options for outdoor activities, I test and check everything in person. Houses, as I tried to reflect in the film, are equipped with everything: appliances, pans, appliances, towels, but the main thing is to take salt with you.
The morning is cloudy, we’re moving through the forest to the sandy beach of Lake Onega on ATVs. Cleanest forest air, complete silence, and beauty. What else you need: a sandy beach and a clean bottom with clear water. After reviewing the base, we dive into a car and move to Petrozavodsk.
145 km on forest roads, rushing, somewhere like asphalt, the closer to the capital of Karelia, the smoother the roads began to appear. Remember, there are no gas stations in the forest, so I recommend taking additional fuel cans for travel lovers. At 12:00 p.m., we meet the fourth member of the team, aka navigator and boatmaster, in Petrozavodsk at the station.
The place to start was chosen in advance, we score in the navigator, 15 minutes and we are already there. Each participant has its own functionality, unpack the equipment. It’s not until the direction anymore, something’s recorded on camera, we go out on the water at 14:00.
The water is a mirror, no current, no wind, but only in the distance you understand what awaits you. The lake merges with the sky, fog and clouds are visible. Therefore, it is simply not possible to cling to the cloud or to focus on the shore to understand the speed of movement when you are on the board.
The first hour you row, look back and see you off Petrozavodsk, a couple of rowing as you are enveloped in a cloud of humidity and you are in the fog. With the escort boat, communication on the radio, online liquid filling drinking systems, and a landmark option for driving along the route.
Yes, there was no experience of moving through such weather conditions, everything had to be worked out during the race, namely in the first hours after the start.
You work as an oar, an hour or two, and the feeling that you’re standing still, only on the radio are the navigator’s lines: “Take it to the right… 15 degrees to the left”. That’s how we move, food and drink according to the chosen strategy.
Twilight begins, we refuel the tank in the boat, change equipment, check the lighting fixtures. Once again, we talk about our actions at the time of extreme situations.
For understanding, the route ran away from the shore at a distance of 3 to 14 km, with a depth difference of 20 to 70 meters and we are on Lake Onega. This is the second largest freshwater body of water in Europe and the third in Russia. So our risks were very, very high.
At 10 p.m., it’s time to get another bar, eat right on the move while driving, gaining speed and I understand that I’m alone. Fog, darkness and no one. It was the first time we got lost in the fog.
The main calmness and without fuss, communication with the boat on the radio, the guys report that they hear me, turn on the lanterns, and they don’t see me. Yes, that’s how a beam of light can reflect from the water at a long distance, and you stay in a dark visor.
For understanding! It only took 10 seconds, a little change of course, as in a minute you are already 500 meters away from each other. You think you’re moving straight, but just during these 10 seconds, while you open the bar, you turn you around, and since all the stars are hidden by clouds, there are no landmarks at all.
At 12 a.m., the temperature fell from +18 to +2, the guys’ boat is already starting to shake the cold, as the humidity is high and the lack of any movements. At such moments, there is a strength test, on which the positive outcome of the entire expedition depends.
Darkness, fog, uncertainty and mystical atmosphere on Lake Onega constantly keep you in suspense, the main thing here is not to… to move forward.
As moles all night we moved in the dark, and only occasionally turned on the lighting to record video or while refueling drinking systems.
At 3 a.m., the dawn gradually begins. All the boat and equipment are covered with frost, you continue to move in a state of complete calm. You think about different topics, you understand that you are responsible for yourself and the team, and continue to move at medium speed.
No matter how difficult the way it is, you move forward and move towards your goal with each row. At such moments, self-motivation is included, which is achieved only through training and work.
So remember, if you doubt at the start before going to the distance, stay still, otherwise you will break in the middle of your way.
The long-awaited dawn, hoping that the sun will warm up now, but not. The frosty sun comes out through the fog with frost. We’re moving, Andrei starts warming up the quadcopter battery with the warmth of his body to shoot the content, Eugene unpacks the photo.
The guys are still shaking with the cold, but no one has ever whined, so all the photo and video content, what turned out to be shot at all, is worth a serious effort.
It’s 7 a.m. A day without sleep, but how interesting and saturated they are. Communication with transport support on the shore, choice of place for the finish, we send the planned geopoint.
There are 13 km ahead, you row and stand straight with an oar, your legs start to slip off the board, you’re in cold water a little bit more, but at these moments you wake up and catch balance.
From this moment on, the fight against sleep begins, hot food before your eyes, you already have liters of 8-10 liquids and multiple bars that you continue to eat. There’s fog on the water, the navigator continues to adjust your trajectory, the team moves confidently forward by boat, it seems that the sun is gradually warming up.
At about 9 a.m., we get out of the fog and see a beautiful coastline. Yes, this is the second time since the start we saw the shore.
The final hundreds of meters remain ahead and we’re at the finish line. Maxim was already waiting for us on the shore, jumping from the board into the water and recording the final part of the video.
Remember, each adventure begins with an idea, then preparation and implementation of the entire project. Such races need to be prepared and trained, taken into account numerous factors and difficult situations.
It’s a serious and responsible way that not everyone can do. In each race I use my SUP experience, and after each ultramarathon I multiply my knowledge, which helps me move and develop in this sport.
Finish on the bank of the village of Other River. After arrival, equipment collection. Immediately, without rest, the way back home 400 km ahead. through traffic jams and congestion. Upon return, disassembly of equipment and unloading of material.