The following entry was made more than 6 months after the race. It has been fact checked with some of the people involved but it is subject to my own perception of time and space. Don’t hold me accountable to the last drop.
Since I started trail running and going into the mountains, the Transylvania 100 race had a certain panache, something able to shatter anyone that would dare not to take it seriously. It takes place roughly around the end of May in the Bucegi mountains and the weather has been less than ideal every year. Runners are rained upon right from the start and until the finish line, a real suffer fest considering you are climbing abit (the 80k goes up to Omu peak, 2504m; the 100k goes up to Omu – twice).
Some technical data from their website:
Category: very difficult ultra-marathon
Distance: 81 kilometres
Elevation gain: 4910 metres
Start: 05:00 am (Bran Castle)
Time limit: 25 hours
Viorel Adam, a guy I met at 321sport and that has taught me a lot about mountain runing in my infancy once did it back in 2017. It was a shit show especially because of the rain – no matter how many jackets you change and how performant your GORE-TEX is – it’s a real struggle.
I signed up for it back in 2019 as a training race for the upcoming Ciucas X3 in September but due to heavy snowfall in the week prior, the course changed and got roughly 64-65k in the end. I did not get any snow spikes for the ice (as per their mandatory equipment) but I recall clear as the blue sky telling myself man, should have gotten those spikes by the time we got to those exposed patches.
I remember running in some new shoes from La Sportiva Crossover 2.0 GTX which seemed like a really neat choice at that time. Until they weren’t. Remembering being dry, a little water was picked up, and from there, it was only downhill. Not only the water kept pouring in (either from my waterproof pants) or from the sweat itself, it was just a bad call. And they were also heavy as fuuuuck. Got to km30 in front of Razvan Chelu and couldn’t wait but change my socks (back then I carried socks in my backpack!!!) then changed them again at km 40 at my drop bag. One thing led to another, just swore to myself never again in GTX footwear. Better to drain the water and keep the soles comfy (funny thing is these shoes actually helped me a lot for my Rapha 500 attempt in 2021, while we traveled to Brasov, they were the only ones that managed to keep me dry).
2020 was off the table with COVID in full swing.
2021 was a bad year, barely managed to wrap my head around things (hence bonked at Tryavna #neverforget).
2022 is such a mental fog. I remember leaving our place in Brasov, Laura and George sleeping in with the plan for them to follow along a little later. George did the 30k. Laura met me at Bolboci (km40, dropbag assistance). Something was already off that morning leaving with plenty of time to meet Razvan Gugila (R.G.) in Bran. Left from Schei area in Brasov and drove to the city’s borders when I get pulled over. The policeman asked for my papers, told him they’re in the trunk. I get out, go to the back and he asks me: aren’t you a little cold? seing me in 12 inch shorts. Then it hit me:
Fuck! The overpants!
Every race has a list of mandatory equipment: trail running shoes (yeap, they specify that!), wind jacket, rain jacket (some races even specify how it has to be built, what kind of stitching, how many Schmerbers are enough), warm / cold weather versions of the kits etc. The overpants are the most common item and managed to forget them.
After a while of racing and a while of running you come to a point where you stop carrying bloatware (remember the socks?), look a little to your headlamp weight, perhaps stick with just one headlamp and one extra set of batteries instead of two headlamps – some shit like that. You optimize your pack based on your skill and knowledge and most important, based on your race plan. If you know you’re gonna spend two nights in the woods, don’t go out with just one headlamp with 50% battery – that’s stupid.
One thing was sure: those overpants were NOT something to leave behind considering what was ahead.