My wristwatch vibrates. It’s 0530. I’m tired, nauseous, my head hurts, I can’t see clearly. I feel weightless. Disconnected. I try getting out of bed but head towards the edge of a cliff.

Wrong day.

It’s just my daily alarm as I’m trying to snail my way through this massive climb. No, no, keep pushing, the worst is yet to come I keep telling myself in light of ignoring all the alarms my body was sending.

I just had no idea how much I will suffer due to lack of sleep. I was wide awake for just a little more than 24hrs, 70km into it.


My wristwatch vibrates. It’s 0530. It’s happening, one year later, I’m finally setting sail for Tryavna once again. I feel at peace knowing this will be just a long, long adventure to which I signed up for. People keep sending me weather alerts of how hot it will be, who will run, what they have in checkpoints but I kind of stare through them. I don’t really care and try to use as little processing power as possible to deal with this extra info. It’s not a matter of I don’t care but it’s just that it’s not under my control.

Newsflash: it’s gonna be hot and sweaty for everybody, not just for me.

We get to our stay, things already started to look bright after last year we had a room the size of a dish soap. We tune in, go out, pizza. Sleep.

Thursday comes and goes, my crew gets there in the evening, a whole bunch of them: George, Laura, Alex and Iluc. Iluc will run the 20 on Saturday (congrats, man 🙂 )

We crack a few jokes, pizza again at the same place.

Friday morning I wake with a weird feeling, as if someone’s out to get me. Wake up at 7, no alarm. Take a shower, maybe I can shake this off. Nothing, still I feel as I got this weird sniper dot over my head. I’m feeling watched.

We get into Tryavna, pickup the kit. The same feeling started to niggle me as I was trying to be as chill as possible. 

What gives? I keep asking myself. Nothing but it’s definitely out to get me. It, whatever it means.

We come back to our stay, try and grab some last minute sleep.

I lay on my back with the window wide open, a cool breeze comes and goes in this hottish summer day.

I fade out and just as I’m about to fall into sleep and then on full blast

It’s happening, motherfucker! Buckle up!

Yeap, the boy with satanic voice is back. Eyes wide open, my heart went into 100 bpms within a second, I feel as I’m ready to fight 3 raging bears and then some.

Calm myself a little, focus on adding some fresh music, go into this crazy power psy trance playlists and recommendations (thanks, Pops!). Add some. Rammstein’s new album seems like the right choice, sure, add it. More psy.

Time’s up, it’s go time.

We head towards the start, 20min drive, try and relax and keep thinking about last year’s DNF. 

What if I will bonk again?

What if I will die again?

When I’ll die, will I be able to recover?

Will not having my crew at Shipka be enough to keep going?

A few friendly smiles, a few handshakes and here I am again on the start line.

It’s happening, motherfucker! Buckle up!

One year later.

It’s happening, motherfucker! 

The second the gun went off, the dude stopped talking. I literally haven’t heard him until late into the night.

Start – Bozhentsi 11.20km

The thing goes off. I feel good. Confident. Set myself within the front pack but let them set the pace. We get into Bozhentsi and George tells me I’m 3rd.

This is too fast.

I was set for a fast start but I’ve done this stupid shit last year, let’s just settle for it to not end within the first hours.

I slow down the pace, smile at the guy that surpasses me after we chat a little and wish him all the best.

Bozhentsi – Sechen Kamak 19.40km

Pretty hilly section, mostly alone, kept going after it but at a far more comfortable pace and constantly trying to remember how I felt compared to last year by looking at the surroundings. Nothing adds up, it seems like a different course.

It can’t be, they haven’t changed it. It’s the same thing, I just feel it’s different.

Sechen Kamak – Yabalka 35.90km

I get at Yabalka with no headlamp. 

This is weird, last year I definitely had the lamp on already.

It’s a good morale booster not necessarily of the better time but of the overall feeling, this is the first time I’m able to recall how I felt one year earlier. I was definitely in a worse shape.

No crew here.

We play the same game at each aid station.

They start talking in bulgarian, I reply in english, they switch to english.

The aidstation chief welcomes me.

I greet him in english.

Oh, you’re the guy from Romania, I remember you from last year. 

I grab some water and try to push my way through the CP.

No, no, you must eat something the nice CP ladies tell me. The climb is pretty steep!

I look at most of their food, nothing is really that appealing so I slide away from my plan. I grab some fresh cucumbers, dip half of them in salt and carry on.

They wish me good luck.

They’re out to get me!

Pain, like happiness, is better when shared.

Yabalka – Shipka DNF 2021 49.20km

This was such a weird section, it’s the first time I got lost within the first km after leaving a CP.

I finally get back at the course, nobody passed me but I already see two headlamps far away in the back.

They’re out to get me!

I turn my headlamp off hoping the full moon will provide enough light to see where I’m going.

Bad strategy, I stumped twice within 10m, not a great way of running in the woods during the night.

I turn off my back red beacon so they won’t see me anymore and set my headlamp on the lowest possible setting.

Not so great either as I can barely see what I’m doing.

I crank the light back up a little and decide to let them pass or drive them to the ground trying.

They finally pass me after more than 1 hr, they try to look fresh, they even ask me All good? as they pass me but I’ve seen enough of this shit, trying to look fresh once you pass someone. I know your little games, congrats, wish you a pleasant death as I hear you grasping for air.

I get into Shipka a whole lot fresher than expected – it came much sooner as last year its climb seemed not to ever end. I even saw myself where and how many times I died just afew months earlier. Now it wasn’t anything like that.

Got into the CP, the two guys were visibly hurting but at it together.

Pain, like happiness, is better when shared.

I knew it from two days earlier as I revisited the place with Cristina. It hurt when I did it on Wednesday, I was so afraid of collapsing once again here, I was so scared I would crumble again. I thought that was my limit, 50k in Bulgaria.


I had no remorse as I just got half a glass of Coke, a slice of bread, pulled out the next food ziplock and started grinding again. I hadn’t had even the slightest intention of giving up here.

Shipka – Mladost 60.60km

I let the dudes go ahead and left myself doing my own race.

Afew hundred meters from Mladost George is already awaiting for me. He takes me into the CP, I get some hot soup, cola, bread, new t-shirt, change socks, change shoes. 

It felt like an eternity but I managed to snatch the CP at just a little over 7 minutes.

Not bad for a pit stop.

George follows me outside and guides me towards the next section. 

With a far more exposed section coming, I feel comfortable turning off the headlamp and rely solely on the moon shining down on this vast windmill valley. They are running and with each turn I feel as they’re about to hit me. 

It’s a nice feeling, I feel refreshed, more than 14hrs into this and all systems are running. Literally.

Mladost – Enina 70.60km

This turned out to be a far more technical section than expected. I got at Enina with some sort of muscle fatigue but the overall lack of sleep started creeping in. Not yet making bad mistakes but enough to keep me going a little slower than normal.

Let’s just get at Enina and keep pushing.

At Enina, George & Laura were waiting. A little bit more soup, no coke, no bread. I knew that’s when it will get hard. A 1100m+ climb within the next 9km so late into the night and with so little sleep onboard would definitely get me. 

I look at my shoes, they’re torn appart. Change shoes again.

Between 0430 and 0630 I was mostly a walking zombie.

The watch kept telling I was off course even though I was seeing the markings, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t drink. All I wanted was to just lay down on the path and go to sleep. 

I thought I knew fatigue. I really did. If you would have asked me about what worries me prior to this, I would have never gone with the lack of sleep. But man, was I in for a surprise.

Got lost again. Decided to bushwack my way through this rather than going back around 2kms.

Enina – Kupeni 79.60km

Finally. Systems started powering up, I knew the night is the darkest just before dawn. The sun is up. I can restart this. Get some more fresh cucumbers, next ziplock, coke, break, thank you! And off I go from this CP.

Kupeni – Lovtsite 102.00km

I enter the CP, ask for water. They don’t seem to understand me.

Water? Wasser? Nero? Apa? Nicht?

They just turn their eyes away from me and mind their own business. 

I pour it into the flasks while trying not to bathe in the same time. Frustrating.

I see coke under the table. I ask for some. Same eye turning as they do not understand me.

Told them to fuck off and left with just one flask and no coke on board.

Lovtsite – Mladost 114.00km

I realize the heat will turn out to be a bigger problem than expected. I start filling 3 flasks. I get salts. Isotonic. Still thirsty. Keep pushing. I get overtaken by a girl until Mladost. Wish her all the best but not quite the happiest camper being overtaken by the first girl.

I get into Mladost the second time. It’s a whole different scenery than from a couple of hrs ago. The 78km race is well underway and the checkpoint is common amongst the two races (they had the start just a couple of hours earlier), they look fresh as they reach this point a little over 40km.

I greet people, more water and turn to the exit while this huge, massive guy asks


-Nah, thanks, I’m good.

-But have some soup.

-Nah man, I’m good, thank you.

-But get some soup, you’ll love it.

Needless to say, I got some soup. Vegetables. It was nectar of the gods – so, so good.

Thanks man! and I carry on.

Mladost – Balgarka PACERS 124.00km 

While I left Mladost, I started joining packs of the guys from 78k race but trying to not be overtaken by the girl – I left her in Mladost CP. Everybody’s speaking in bulgarian, I have no clue what they are saying.

Balgarka – Stanchov Han 138.00km

Finally I meet my crew again in Balgarka. This is it. The race is done. I knew once I reach them and having pacers there’s no way I won’t finish this. Little did I know things were about to get from bad to a complete shitshow.

We leave Mladost after a quick photo, I feel tired but I also feel weird. A little more light headed, a little bit hotter than expected. We start power hiking, we crack jokes and we all laugh at my poor performance.

Cristina was afraid prior to the race that she won’t be able to hold pace. 


Laugh some more but then it finally hit me.

Every droplet of energy left my body, I was feverish, I felt sick in the stomach. My head was about to explode. My heart skyrocketed but it felt as if it was just trying to keep pace with the overall state of the body. I could barely walk. 

My crew tried all sorts of gimmicks and tricks to get me to at least jog my way through this – no way.

I was dead.

It was by now I thought for the first time of DNFing. Again.

I told myself I’ll get into the next CP and that’s it, I can not move anymore. But all these while I was still able to move with my crew all over the place, trying to make things better.

I kept thinking of how Robert DNFed in 2020 at TGC due to a massive heatstroke. He had little over 10k left out of a total of 145km. He did not die in the CP but came in a far worse shape than Maria and I were able to help him anymore. He died way before the checkpoint.

Man, look, this is bad. But just don’t die in the checkpoint. Die outside and see where it takes you.

I grab my ziplock, I don’t even care anymore what’s there, let me have it. My only solution out of this was eating. I have no clue but I started gulping down whatever I had left. Gummy bears? Kick it! Cereal bar? Bring it on! Gels with enough caffeine to knock-out a full grown Belgian? Sure!

Slowly but surely I kept ingesting whatever food and water I had left. Nothing seemed to work. I felt more and more tired. 

Guys, I think I will stop at the next CP.

They all burst into laughs Yeah, right!

No, you have to listen to me, I need to stop, I can not continue this, I’m done.

And then, out of the green fucking forest, George goes:


I kept telling myself I would rather die than DNF this again. Not in a I’m going to kill myself kind of death. But let’s just see how much I can push this before actually dying. 

I have no clue out of the 10 items I ate within the past hour which one worked but I started feeling a little better. The fever started to go away. My temples weren’t trying to get out of my head. I could jog a little.

Then even a little bit of running. Power hiking the uphills. Light jogging the downhills.

This ain’t so bad after all I tell myself as I realized I just dodged a bullet.

Stanchov Han – Finish 155.09km

These last were pretty much on and off.

I was so afraid of being overtaken, I kept asking is there the girl in sight? knowing she was right up my neck. 

They kept telling me nobody’s in sight but I had little to no belief.

I finish under 28hrs and with more than 30mins apart from the girl. I actually managed to run away from her.

I have no clue what would have happened if I hadn’t had my crew on point when I needed them the most.

I have no clue what would have happened if I hadn’t eaten all I had left in my ziplock.

I have no clue what would have happened if I kept pushing so hard from so early in the race.

And to be honest – fuck cares. All that matters is it’s done and gone.

It’s nothing at the end of the rainbow.

TORX is still on my mind with no chance of doing it this year. Maybe 2023. Maybe 2033. TORX will be there.

Ultras are so, so long that even this log entry took me far longer than expected.

By popular demand, I leave you my top 10 tracks from Tryavna Ultra 2022.