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Together for the Living Tisza!
Hidvégi-Üstös Pál’s 2100 kms running around the Tisa River

Hídvégi-Üstös Pál had returned time to the river for the third with not only a sport but also an environmental programme that contributed to joining the villages and cities by the river for the river. Pal had swum 852 kms on the Tisa being the first man swimming the whole length of the slow Tisa River in 2006. He had run from the spring in Ukraine the estuarine in Serbia in 2008. This year he had run "around" the river had visited all town-ships near the river. Pal is not only a sportsman but also a diplomat – was appointed as Ambassador of the Tisa - as had consulted with more than 230 mayors, and also asked them to contribute to a joint statement that includes how the local residents imagine their future. During the 2100 km and 50 days long programme more than 15000 people, children had run, biked with Pal but some had came on horseback or accompanied him on the river by kayak.

Hidvégi-Üstös Pál had started from North-Hungary, Vásárosnamény - the leader city of the cross country environmental programme - towards Ukraine and the Carpaths. He had visited the Black Tisa spring at 1200 m height (Black and the White Tisa makes the Tisa river, the Black part is the longer) where still snow was on the peaks and near the bivouac of the runner and the team, crocus and enzian were flourishing at beginning of May. Pal was welcomed with bread and salt and songs – following an ancient local custom – also by Ukrainian, Hucul, Rusin, Romanian or Hungarian residents. Many children, at some places more than a half thousand at the same time, had run with him. Children from one village accompanied Pal to the other village and so on, making „living chain”. Other students had joined with boards with environmental slogans on, or organised household waste collecting competition on the day he crossed the city. Pal was special guest of a „ Banos Festival” that is a gastronomy festival named by a special dish made of maize cooked in sour cream. The runner had met with veterans and had taken part at celebrations on 9th May the „Victory’s Day” – the last day of the II.nd World War is still celebrated in the countries of the former Soviet Union, also in Ukraine. In Ukraine Károly Tokar, the ultra distance runner from Solotvino had accompanied Pal for the whole distance from border to border. After14 days over 500 kms running in Ukraine Pal had returned to Hungary, farm-wagons and Tarpa residents in traditional kuruc dresses had welcomed him.
Hidvégi-Üstös Pál had run in 4 of the 5 Tisa countries as crossing the Romanian-Ukrainian border is difficult and the road on the Romanian side leads further from the Tisa due to the higher mountains by the river. Pal had visited 3 countries on 18th May as started the day in Hungary had run in Ukraine to visit Csop city and came back to Hungary to cross the border again towards Slovakia, and finish the day in Veliky Trakany. Hidvégi-Üstös Pal followed his route in Hungary in over 30 °C heat, but the local residents and children were still keen to join him during his route. It was tough to run in the heat for 50 days, and the humidity by the river made the effort even tougher, but the warm welcoming at more than 230 townships, the over 15000 people who had run, biked with Pal made this mission easier. On behalf of the patron of programme, the Hungarian Defence Ministry, soldiers had also run with him around Szolnok, Hódmezővásárhely, Szentes. It was good to see the co-operation between the cities in villages. In Ukraine the county structure helped a lot, the county informed the mayors in advance, and also on the day of the running the organisation of police escort, informing each other about the progress of the running went smoothly. In Hungary the 4 villages near Fehérgyarmat – Olcsvaapáti, Panyola, Kérsemjén and Nábrád – organised a fantastic joint programme and also the small Euroregion from Tiszatarján to Tiszavalk also had proven how 9 villages can co-operate perfectly. In Serbia the cities welcomed very warmly Pál’s work for joining the town-ships by the Tisza, police escort was organised for the whole length of the running in the country, and the public was widely informed about the Tisa Running not only in the Vojvodina County but in whole Serbia by the media. Dr. Gusztav Surjan ultra distance runner from Senta had joined Pal almost the whole Serbian section.

Hidvégi-Üstös Pál had run 2100 kms for 50 days and visited all town-ships by the river. Had met and consulted with 235 mayors in 4 countries, who also signed the joint statement. 15000 locals, children had run or biked with him. In the frame of the environmental programme he had helped to monitor the illegal dumps in the Tisa valley and to fill in 9000 sacks with household waste. “The sport had helped in many occasions, solved problems, and opened borders. I was appointed the Ambassador of the Tisa as nobody is knows the Tisa well as me. I felt the water on my skin for 32 days in 2006, while swimming and in the past years I had also get acquainted with the people who live by the river from the spring to the estuarine. I would like to help with my annual programmes to form a better co-operation in the Tisa valley in both environmental and economical issues and to attract more and more active tourists to this beautiful region from all over the World.” – says Pál as a conclusion.

The Sights
The Black and the White Tisa meets in the Carpaths – the difference between the colours of the rivers can obviously be seen when joining. The Tisa is a white-water in Ukraine. The International Tisa Tour leaves from Bustyna – this is the place where it is possible to swim from. The river is still relatively fast in Northern Hungary, in Szabolcs-Szatmár Bereg county - that is full of natural and also cultural heritage, water mill, old churches, ancient cemeteries, 150-250 year old houses - and slower from Tokaj, the centre of the wine district, where the famous Tokaji dessert wine is produced. South from Tokaj both the Tisza and the oxbow lakes are ideal for fishing or bird observing. In Serbia larger cities are situated by the river with bridges over the river and beautiful sandy and grassy beaches – although these are equipped with toilets and buffets are mainly still free. Yachting is very popular in Serbia and almost every city has a marina, yacht trips are organised even to the Black Sea. The promenade in Novi Becej is similar as any at the most beautiful places by the sea.

Clean Tisa
Hidvégi-Üstös Pál is partner of the „Szabolcs-Szatmár- Bereg and the Sub-Charpatian Region Together for the Living Tisza!” programme. The programme is led by Vásárosnamény in Hungary and Beregovo in Ukraine and is co-financed by EEA Grants, Norway Grants and the Hungarian Development Agency in the frame of the „ Developing Cross-Border Co-operation in the Ukrainian-Hungarian Border Region” project. The aim of the programme is to join the villages and towns by the Tisza for monitoring the potential pollution sources, the illegal dumps, cleaning the river from household packaging waste, growing the environmental knowledge of the new generation and the whole society and boosting tourism and the sales of local products by bringing more tourists to a clean region. The result of Hidvégi-Üstös Pál’s consultations with the mayors in region almost a hundred of illegal dumps were detected, in the frame of a competition 9000 sacks of household waste were collected and also in Ukraine the townships had confirmed that the Pál’s efforts made them also act for a cleaner living Tisa.

Hidvégi-Üstös Pál is not only a long distance runner but also a survivor specialist and uses professional equipment during his expeditions and programmes, such as the 1200 km Survival tour Cross Hungary was or the Old Spice Africa Expedition. During the Old Spice Africa Expedition he and his international team had crossed 10 countries - South-Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt - during his 12500 tour from Cape-Town to Alexandria. They had biked over 8500 kms, had run about 150 kms in the Namibian desert and had conquered the 3 highest peaks of Africa (Mount Meru, Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya) in 3 weeks time, and had kayak on most waters of the regions including Orange River, Malawi lake, Nile and the wildest river on earth, the Zambezi.
The Gerber knives, Fiskars axes and spades are parts of Pál's equipment and the Hackman wok was used for the first time during camping at the Tisa Spring in open fire.

Run, ride bike, or kayak for the Living Tisa!

Hidvégi-Üstös Pál, the Ambassador of the Tisa, who was the first to swim cross the river (total 852 km, 33 days in 2006) and was also the first to put the base of a Tisa co-operation by running more than 1000 kms from the spring to the estaurine and having almost 4000 people running with him, and meeting and consulting with more than a 100 mayors and hundreds of NGOs, local citizens.
The conclusion of the 2008 event was that the small villages would like to attract more people to the territory and would like to show and sell the amazing food and other products they make here. The cities would like to see a cleaner river, this is why Vásáronamény and Beregovo is supporting our environmental programme for monitoring the illegal dumps and collecting household packaging waste.
Due to the 2008 conclusion this year Pál will run from the estaurine to the estaurine passing almost all villages and cities by the Tisa and would like to invite you also to contribute to the Tisa project. Run, ride bike or kayak together with Pál at least for an hour or even for 50 days. Pál would like those living in Serbia to visit the spring and Ukranian people to see how the Tisa meet the Danube, and Hungarians, Romanian, Slovakian and any other Nationality enjoy the amizing sights and what the river can give. Let’s unite for the Tisa!

Villages, cities by the Tisa help us with providing a field for building a camp and also with toilet and shower facilities. Some will organise tastings and a small market from local products, organise waste collecting or other environmental programmes. In Vásárosnamény and Beregovo a full day festival will be organised. Those who are interested in pensions or village tourism or restaurants will also find information on our website.

You can take part at the programme after registration. Please click here for registration.

To review the route click here.

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