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12 July 2017 – Following his two-week-long journey, Pál Hidvégi-Üstös – the ultramarathoner who began his quest of cycling along both sides of the stretch of the Danube river in Hungary with a velocipede on June 27 – has at last returned to his point of departure, Szalkszentmárton.

The unique event was organised under the patronage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary and served as a sort of teaser for the “70 marathons for the Danube” initiative, within the framework of which athletes will run along the entire stretch of the Danube. Coinciding with the Hungarian Presidency of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, this event was not only intended to raise awareness to the importance of safeguarding our rivers, but also to encourage their responsible use.

“In 14 days I cycled 750 kilometres, visited 98 municipalities and met with 46 mayors. I was received warmly in each place, and, whilst conveying the message of the Hungarian Presidency of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, I had conversations concerning the environment, sustainability as well as the importance of the responsible use of our rivers. Many of the local authorities presented with pride the developmental progress they achieved in recent years relating to the Danube. The contribution of the Danube to the livelihoods of the people who reside along its banks was brought up on nearly each occasion, and naturally we also spoke of issues pertaining to tourism, transport and sport – including kayaking, canoeing, cycling and the importance of bike paths,” said Pál Hidvégi-Üstös, recalling his conversations with the representatives of the local authorities whom he visited on his journey.

“Despite the summer vacation, nearly 200 people joined me on my trip, some of whom were 5-year-old children and 75-year-old men and women. By proceeding along some busy roads, my velocipede attracted quite some attention; people tried out the ‘Methuselah of bicycles’ at nearly every municipality.”

Pál Hidvégi-Üstös intends to draw further attention to the objectives of the Strategy, coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, by running along the entire stretch of the Danube – traversing 10 countries – this fall. The 3,200 kilometre run, which Pál will commence on September 17, will take approximately three months. Pál should arrive in Budapest on October 18, the day on which the 6th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region commences.