“Blisters, gadfly attacks and every minute struggle with oneself,” Olympic champion kayaker Yuri Postrigay spoke about the difficulties on the way to a new record

The 2012 Olympic cham­pi­on, 34-year-old Russ­ian kayak­er Yuri Postri­gay went from St. Peters­burg to Moscow on a kayak as part of the VK fest, set­ting a new Russ­ian record for cov­er­ing a water route in the short­est time.

Yuri start­ed by kayak on July 2, 2023 from the 300th Anniver­sary Park of St. Peters­burg and cov­ered 1,300 km, reach­ing Moscow on July 16. The rea­son for his water jour­ney from the city on the Neva to the cap­i­tal of Rus­sia was the largest enter­tain­ment event of this sum­mer — VK Fest.

On his way — row­ing against the cur­rent with a head­wind speed of up to 15 kilo­me­ters per hour, scorch­ing sun and storm, as well as the most dif­fi­cult part of the route — 13 locks.

Every day I had to puff, says the 18-time Russ­ian cham­pi­on. – In the first days I rubbed cal­lus­es on all my fin­gers, my body turned into one big bruise. Every­thing hurt. But we are already ten days on the road, the mus­cles have adapt­ed and accept­ed the fact that results will be demand­ed of them every day

The ath­lete cov­ered from 52 to 129 kilo­me­ters dai­ly — row­ing from morn­ing to evening, with a stop for lunch. Yuri needs to restore his mus­cles dai­ly with the help of com­pres­sion devices, mas­sages and anti-inflam­ma­to­ry oint­ments due to the colos­sal loads.

A kayak is a pro­fes­sion­al boat, in which we com­pete in a nar­row chan­nel on smooth water. – Yuri con­tin­ues. – Here you see in front of you a riv­er flood sev­er­al kilo­me­ters wide, where you need to walk in the fair­way and with the oncom­ing cur­rent. The res­cue team is a small point 1.5 km from you, and, of course, fears creep in: “what will hap­pen if the kayak cap­sizes?”, “Will they have time to save me?” But I dri­ve them away from me with a slip­per and row fur­ther

The team nav­i­gat­ed dif­fi­cult sec­tions of the route where it was impos­si­ble to row on a yacht — on board you can take a break and have a snack and recharge your bat­ter­ies.

The locks can­not be passed by kayak — they are intend­ed for tankers trans­port­ing oil, gas, crushed stone… The sit­u­a­tion is the same with impass­able lakes or reser­voirs“says Yuri Postri­gay. There was a storm at the Rybin­sk Reser­voir for two days, The boat accom­pa­ny­ing the ath­lete could not cope with the side wave, moored, but its anchor was blown away. Res­cuers towed him to Chere­povets. The boat gave up quick­ly, but the Olympic cham­pi­on did not — he con­tin­ued on his way.

Yuri was accom­pa­nied by two teams. The first — with res­cuers, a medic, a cook and a video­g­ra­ph­er — moved on a boat par­al­lel to the athlete’s kayak in order to mon­i­tor his health, orga­nize a lunch break, and also video record the route. The sec­ond team fol­lowed the land, car­ried fuel for the escort boat and looked for places to stay for the night (tent camps, coastal hotels).

We have a won­der­ful team. The guys found some incred­i­ble stop­ping places where they could recov­er and take a break. We even had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to go to the bath­house — it helps a lot. It’s not just me – the guys on the boat get tired too. We were attacked by flocks of mos­qui­toes and gad­flies — at such moments I lit­er­al­ly dreamed of a bee­keep­er’s mask, with us on the road there was a side wind, the sun was bak­ing, and you lit­er­al­ly lost con­scious­ness with an oar in your hand. I con­stant­ly had to set myself up in a pos­i­tive way: rest, wash, get back into the kayak and con­tin­ue on my way.

With the sup­port of his team, VK, the DIDENOK TEAM agency and all those who fol­lowed the jour­ney in the VKon­tak­te com­mu­ni­ty, Yuri Postri­gay reached the end and set an unusu­al record by fin­ish­ing at the VK Fest in Moscow.