Ukraine easily had the worst roads in Europe. They appeared to have just put asphalt on top of mud, with little to no foundations. These aren’t just potholes but rather the whole road collapses under trucks, and you’re left with a ridge, sometimes a foot clean above the rest of the road. This is the level the road began life, but either side of this ridge there’s a foot deep 10-30 yard long channel.
There are plenty of regular potholes alongside these depressions but most would take your wheel clean off if you drove over them. I’m not exaggerating!
As a runner it caused a few problems, not directly, but in so much as you can never guarantee which lane the traffic ahead or behind of you is suddenly going to swerve in or out of to avoid losing a wheel!
Often this meant two cars squeezing into one and a half lanes and no room for me to run!
Luckily there was always a hard shoulder and I kept my ears as well as eyes focused on the traffic. The horse drawn carts often caused some scary overtaking I’d rather not have been present to witness as I ran.
I found food prices in the Ukraine to be incredible value, very generous and tasty. The traditional Borscht soup was the best thing I’ve ever found to warm you up after hours in the cold.
Hotels were also great value but not present as frequently as I would have liked at those prices. However, wild camping was very easy in the Ukraine as there were plenty of woods, and also most of the roads had trees for hedge rows. I also seemed to always find a couple of restaurants between miles 20-28. Here I could sit for a few hours warming through and drinking tea at 30p a cup and having two main meals at £2-3 each before donning my warm jacket, hat and gloves and shuffling up the road for an hour or so to bring the miles up to 28/30 before setting up camp.
Winter camping in the Ukraine isn’t a joke! The only really cold bit of camping is sitting around cooking or striking camp. If you’ve already eaten a hot meal or two, all there is to it, is just to set up the tent, jump in the sleeping bag and then you’re toasty and warm all night.
There was always a cafe within the first hour or so in morning for coffee, which saves on cooking time first thing. Life here is not at all like England with supermarkets; every little village has its own shops and likely a bar or café which suited me perfectly! I was eating two or three hot meals each day and enjoying plenty of stops for hot tea (rather than unappetising cold water) throughout each run then camping for free in the woods or in a hedge!
Seriously, a hedge was all I needed to camp discreetly metres from the road. It was barely visible even if someone had been looking for it, and with drivers flashing by at 50-70mph. I was as good as invisible.