An Ultramarathon is taking place in Artsakh and Armenia this summer for the first time in history. Even more astonishing than the 160 miles the race covers in six days is the person who will be directing the event. Chris Kostman, a legendary athlete in his own right, is the long-time director of the famous Badwater 135, widely considered the toughest race on earth. He has a handful of other races under the Badwater name, all of which draw international recognition and world-class runners.
The Artsakh Ultra, a new addition to Kostman’s repertoire, will undoubtedly bring vast positive attention to the republic of Artsakh, and open the eyes of adventure-goers around the world to the beauty of the region and its culture. You could say that this race will literally put Artsakh ‘on the map’ as a destination for athletes.
The Artsakh Ultra will follow a series of trails similar to the 178-mile route Telma Altoon covered in 2017. A two-time participant of the Badwater 135, Telma is one of the only, and certainly the most recognized, Ultra-Runner in the Armenian community. Her 2017 self-devised run inspired Kostman to create a race of his own in Artsakh. With both minds and years of extensive coordination put together, the Artsakh Ultra was born. The race will only allow 50 runners world-wide to participate, with the goal to create as much international representation as possible in the field.
As there are very few Armenians who run these distances, and with Altoon herself sticking to the sidelines for coordination purposes, Armenian representation will be scarce. To date, the one, and possibly only Armenian runner participating happens to be an instructor at Ferrahian High School, who resides in the San Fernando Valley. New to the Ultrarunning scene, Armen Sarrafian is an Arizona native with a passion for the Armenian cause that never ceases to evolve. A half-Armenian that resembles more his German side, Sarrafian sees this race as a profound honor to represent his roots on a world stage. He encourages others to spread the word about the significance of this historic event, and hopes to inspire other endurance athletes to participate.
To support Armen and his journey, visit his GoFundMe page.
To learn more about the 2020 Artsakh Ultra, visit the official Badwater website.