Runtracks are an innovative project in Poland and Europe created in the forests near Świeradów-Zdrój.
It is a designed network of forest paths for runners and hikers built and maintained according to strict rules, with respect to the surrounding nature. Paths wind between trees as well as among forest glades, and their sections are connected with existing forest roads. The whole trail creates a loop that guarantees a return to the starting point.
A LITTLE BACKGROUND
The idea for Runtracks appeared in fact in 2014, during a meeting held at the Interferie Hotel in ŚwieradówZdrój on the initiative of the then director. The meeting was attended by representatives of the National Forests, the Świeradów Commune and running associations. There, the first proposal to create running tracks on the Jizera Mountains territory was made. Initial arrangements were formulated, however, they were not implemented.
A year later, after consultations and (partially) due to the pressure from runners from Świeradów and the surrounding area, the Świeradów-Zdrój Forest Administration decided to recreate some of the pre-war tourist routes that connect forest roads which, after setting tracks, create loops where Runtracks could be created.
Route calculation began in the autumn of 2015 and consisted mainly in repeated field visits executed in order to determine the exact course of the route, places of possible collisions with cycling paths and forest roads and to determine a way to reduce the risk of such collisions. These calculations took to spring 2016 to complete; the construction began in early autumn of 2016 and lasted about 3 months. In spring 2017, the first 5 km of the route was designated with posts and a dedicated sign. The opening of Runtracks took place in May 2017 during the Great May Picnic organized every year by the Świeradów-Zdrój Forest Administration. Maps of the Runtracks can be checked here.
The first reason is the attempt to solve the problem of people running on single-track paths (intended for cyclists – aprox imately 80 km around Świeradów). The current fashion for running prompts people practicing this type of sport to more and frequently look for suitable routes, preferably outside the city. Of course, the forest is open to everyone and one can use existing routes or roads at will. However, the basic concern is that such a runner could get lost in the forest which the settled designation prevents. Besides, without electronic equipment, the runner will not know how much distance he/she travelled. Fortunately, such information can be found on the Runtrack so the equipment can be left at home.
The second reason is the channelling of tourist traffic, i.e. the redirection of those using paths outside of primary natural places where valuable natural assets are protected and they are often banned from entry. An additional advantage of the tourist traffic channelling system is also easier response in the event of an accident. It’s simpler to describe the location of an accident on a marked and populated route.
And finally, the third reason is the desire to recreate old hiking trails.