The memories of the 106km race with 8500m of climbing in the Bucegi Mountains in one sentence- ascending (stunning views) descending a lot, bears, shepherd dogs, night, beautiful sunrise, Dracula belt buckle, plum brandy and a mahoosive mask with horns.
As Jon and I now board the flight from Bucharest to Luton I can reflect on the past 36 surreal hours. We arrived at Bucharest (luckily considering we queued for Budapest for 15mins!) and waited for the coach to take us north to the Romanian Alps. Arriving at 9pm we had just missed the race brief and dinner. The kit list had slightly changed so it was all go until midnight whilst I found out the essential information about the race, went out for a pizza and repacked my kit.
The alarm woke me up 3.5hrs later and the race began at 6pm at the ski lopes near Bran and Dracula’s castle.
The trail that took the race away up the mountains was smooth running and lulled me into a false sense of what I could expect. After a few kms we were scrambling up a nettle infested river bed through dense undergrowth. I ran when I could but that wasn’t a great deal considering 106km took 26hours (so wrong!).
I led the race as we approached the top the first time which was a lovely feeling. The top being Omu at 2505m. Always in the rain and the wind. I was scared I was going to be blown off the top by a big gust so had to keep my centre of gravity low. Also I’m not great with heights and sheer drops as I ran along narrow mountain tracks thinking ‘lean in and pick your feet up…for goodness sake don’t trip’ (or words to that effect).
There were 2loops of 51and 55km but by the end of the first loop we had run 59km so as you can tell getting lost and running more miles happened frequently. In total over the course I think we ran approximately 120km. I had get my compass out numerous times to set us off in the right direction using a bearing. I say we because in the end I ran most of it with Anne- Marie (Flammersfeld) (thank you- great company).
The course took us through caves, bouldered river beds, plateau meadowland, up and down ropes/chains/ladders (I couldn’t look down!) as so steep and sheer, past shepherd huts with their chasing-barking-massive-runner eating-dogs, past beautiful wild flowers, and even a bear! Oh and a red squirrel! The day rolled on and day rolled into night. The night up high was very cold and windy and so we had to layer up and even then it was hard to keep warm whilst running but as we descended the feeling came back into our hands and the layers came off. The last time I knew the time was 9pm so when Anne Marie said it was 5.15am I was shocked. My mind had been where for all those hours! It constantly played tricks on me as I saw things that weren’t there or heard voices from non- existent people. It reminded my of being on exercise in the Army where I first learnt the effects of sleep deprivation. Luckily this was just one night out of my bed and even then I was back in it by 10am the next day (bliss!).
Laila (Ojefelt) joined us in the early hours of the morning as we were retracing our steps yet again, back up a bouldered river bed, to find the last marker. She was keen for company after close contact with a bear.
The final ascent from 1000m to 2200m was long but not too technical so although the altitude increased slowly the tracks were good. We were all keen to reach the final peak and to reward us we saw the sky light up with a red sunrise over the mountain ranges and lowlands below. Memory picture taken!
We had agreed a joint victory because racing was hard in terms of fear from bears in the dark, dark forests and getting lost. But we descended down towards the finish at a furious pace and pushing hard on the flats…. victory was in our sights.
What a race! I thought perhaps it was too hard, too technical but with 12hrs separating me from the race I reflect if that’s what you enjoy and you are good at the technical stuff then it’s well worth entering. The Bucegi Mountain range does not disappoint at all.
The local plum brandy ‘Moonshine’ does!
Thank you to all Lost World Racing for letting me enter this inaugural race; to all the marshals who were so friendly assisting us on the course at all times of day and night; to SCOTTrunning for a amazing pair of the Kinabalu shoes, clothing and pack; AMSPORT for the energy products and specifically the turbo charge which I took at 5.30am to amazing effect (whoosh…); ROCKTAPE for a blister free race; the HOUSE Of COFFEE HECTIC HAMSTER for my 3.30am wake me up coffee; and finally Jon who also stayed up all night supporting me and was there at the finish with a big hug.