This blog may turn out to be long – why? Well it was my first real taste of a proper mountain race and so many things happened – pretty much all good ( plenty of stark lessons learnt!)
The Transylvania 100km Ultra-Trail event is held every year in the mountains of Bucegi near Bran, in Romania. The pictures of the previous 5 years looked incredible – the scale of the mountains, the snow and ice, the mixed terrain (lots of rocks, snow gullies, water hazards everywhere, km after km of deep forest, steep vert and tricky footed descents – it looked tough and a little bit brutal tbh.
This year will be remembered for some “unseasonable” weather. At least four days in the last week leading up to the race saw a decent amount of snow. Daily updates from the organisers meant that they had no choice but to re-route the long distance courses. In fact the 100 km had to be reduced down to 77 km in the end. Owing to this fact and also that my colleagues were competing in the 30 km (starting 2 hours later) there seemed a bit of synergy to do the 50 km and aim to hit the finish line together.
I’ve been working in Romania (Cluj – capital of Transylvania) for over 10 years and so it was an easy decision to try and combine my love of ultra races with a chance to get colleagues involved for the weekend. What makes this event so appealing is that there are over 2000 runners from around the globe who can enter anything from 20 km, 30 km, 50 km, 80 km and up to the grand-daddy 100 km. I entered the 100 km (with very little on his mountain running CV to say he could do this) and all my Xoomie friends signed-up for the 20 km.
I have to be honest and say that very little specific training was actually done for this event – perhaps the highlight - picking up a pair of Black Diamond poles!. A few months of marathon training and an infected leg from Sri Lanka meant that this was totally “wing it” time.
A few helpful logistical things. If you want to combine this race with seeing a bit of Romania for the first time (and 100% you will not regret this decision) then the closest airports are Bucharest and Sibiu. Sibiu would be the recommendation as it such a beautiful and undiscovered gem and you are highly unlikely to party and shop before or after the race and that’s what you would go to Bucharest for. I found that the FaceBook page of the Transylvania 100km event was superb. There was a lot of generous posting from competitors sharing which airport they were travelling to and sorting our car-shares – so definitely look at that. If you are coming from UK then there are lots of great FAQs here - if not everything is answered then drop us a comment below. We are 100% going back in 2020 and probably going to pull a package together to take a group with us - if interested please contact us.
From an organisational point of the view the event and race were superb. We found some hardened Romanians giving the organisers some blunt feedback during the registration, but this seemed harsh. Most of it centered around the fact that the longer events (100 km and 80 km) had to be significantly shortened due to extreme weather conditions – We would agree that the serious chance of avalanches constitutes a fair reason to change things. Plus, the event itself is growing in popularity each year (which is awesome) and the organisers need a little bit of head-space to deal with obvious growth. I found the registration vibe to be perfect. The mandatory kit list is long, as you would ex