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Sunteti aici :: FORUM » English speakers' corner » Piatra Craiului MOUNTAIN MARATHON - 2007 (race report)

Piatra Craiului MOUNTAIN MARATHON - 2007 (race report)

Open thread Piatra Craiului MOUNTAIN MARATHON - 2007 (race report)


Offline Boldizsar Sandor
Membru Ro Club MaratonBoldizsar Sandor
Din Decembrie 2007
Oras / Locatie : Brasov
Marti, 30 Septembrie 2008 16:04
Piatra Craiului MOUNTAIN MARATHON - October 7, 2007

Even though I had a busy end of the week, everything went smooth and after a long drive Saturday (got home @ 21:30) I decided to start in the Marathon with the goal of reaching (and ending it at) Cabana Plaiul Foii (Km-25).

This was going to be my first mountain marathon and I managed to do minimal training in the weeks leading up to the race -quot; basing my decision to participate on the few weekend hikes, some runs and a lot of confidence given by my triathlon fitness!
Morning started with rain and doubts about the race being possibly postponed (climbing up to 2000m in unstable weather raises big safety issues).
Met up with Marius Rus & Nelutu Neagu (local pro cyclist) in BV and drove to Zarnesti, where registration was full-on.
The race numbers are inscriptioned :"IRONMAN" (so these are the same numbers that were used in the past for the famous "Ironman Zarnesti" mountain triathlon) and I get the number 101 - very much in line with my experience on mountain! (101 in USA means beginning/basics, sort of "ABC" in the romanian culture)
Rain was not stopping so I reassessed my goal to a possible drop out at Km-8 (before the starting portion of climbing on wet rocks)... and return on-foot to the START.
About 100 participants, 80% experienced mountain-people (elite-climbers/hikers) +10% road marathoners + 10% rookies like me, hit the road in a mass start at 9:20 AM.
Everybody was well dressed and remarked that all mountaineers had ski-poles to use on the climbs.
I decided to wear my long-sleeved windstopper pants & sweater (over the trisuit), plus a light rain jacket I could fold and put in my backpack.
The backpack use was a no-brainer for me as a rookie and I packed it with the usual hiking stuff (5 sandwiches, waterbottle, extraclothing etc.).
First 4Km I ran a comfortable pace (5min/Km), along the girl who won last year (her finishing time was approx. 7hours) and amazingly rain has stopped completely just 15 min from the start.
The course switched from dirt-road to forest-trail and itchr(039)s incline forced me to walk while the girl (& her twin sister) powered on running.
I was shocked! (both girls looked slightly overweight to me)
The trail exited the forest and was winding thru the picturesque landscapes of mountain villages (Magura & Pestera) - alternating short & steep climbs with false flats - so I ran the flats and walked the climbs.
I was trying to hold a constant pace while at 10K another girl passed me asking me "How do we do?" - answered that wechr(039)ve covered a quarter of the whole distance - and she picked up the pace to catch the sisters while saying "Ichr(039)m not rushing either! This is going to be a long day!". I could certainly tell that shechr(039)s done this before, while watching her powering on putting to good use her trekking poles.
The continuous climb eased up for the next few Km so I managed to catch my breath and chat while jogging along a youngish girl who told me some interesting stories about her hobby=studying bats! She was doing this marathon as a first, carrying only a 1/2l waterbottle! She got "springs" in her legs so I let her go and settled into my own pace.
At the 12Km mark my GPS shows 1400m altitude (700m above the starting point elevation) and the real climb has just started!
Until this point I managed to keep in sight the girls in front while the trail re-entered the thick forest. On top of this, fog was setting down and got me a little worried regarding orientation.
Luckily, the course was well marked (colored strips hanging by tree branches-every 50m) so I continued the climb in my own/slow pace.
Many portions of this 500m long climb I had to use my hands as climbing aid on the steep rocky trail.
I exit the forest and pass thru the checkpoint joking with the guy about getting more water up here (he has actually brought the water there in his backpack).
A beautiful but steep alpine meadow lays ahead and I can see know the whole southern ridge of Piatra Craiului.
The sun shines out for a few minutes and I take this opportunity to rest on a rock amazed by the beauty of the surrounding mountains.
Some guys pass me and I joke with them about putting on for a barbeque... but the reality is that my calves are cramping quite badly and I can see ahead the 2Km steep climb up to the apex.
I stretch and get going again, shorting my steps so the muscles get a break to recover from cramping.
The trail is winding up between rocks and to my surprise I get passed by an older gentlemen (around 60, muscular legs, dressed only in t-shirt & running shorts) using also trekking poles. All I can think is "Ichr(039)d like to be in this good shape at his age." and contemplate as he powers away.
Ichr(039)ve been going for over 3 hours and the crest gets closer and closer, so I get more and more emotional since itchr(039)s my first time on Piatra Craiului ridge!
Itchr(039)s cold now and the wind blows so I have to watch my steps on the narrowing trail as I approach the crest check-point, where I get greeted by a funny guy, a girl and their husky dog.
3h 25min to reach here - and I thankfully sit down to rest and eat.
Therechr(039)s a mandatory 15min break given to all participants here, in order to get down safely to next checkpoint - so I take my time with the tasty sandwiches made by my wife.
In the meantime others are arriving, amongst them Marius B. (from Galati) who I know very well from the triathlon nationals. His camelback is empty so I give him some water and chat along a bit, then we get going. I figured I could keep the pace with him so I try keep him close but to my surprise we need stay in line and to go down a rope along some rocky walls - Ichr(039)ve never done this but I go and reach the bottom safe and sound. The next portion is steep downhill thru a stony field which is quite hard on the ankles and I need to stop (and let go Marius) in order to empty the little stones that entered my ASICS.
I get going right behind a girl & a guy who were briskly walking and chatting so I settled behind them - feeling more comfortable to have someone in front of me on these unknown trails.
Unwillingly hearing their talk I was surprised to discover that the girl was experienced mountaineer (hiked/climbed in Argentina!).
Some time later we met some backpackers (coming the opposite way) who also knew her (as "Dana") and asked how she is doing -quot; she answered that this year is taking it easy and will just enjoy the scenic race course. The truth is that form time to time she stopped and looked up to the rocky crest; I could tell that she was craving to climb straight-up-
Anyway, the trail started to go down and the 3 of us reached Km-20 (Spirlea refuge) -quot; I ask about water and the volunteer-lady (Renate) tells me that she just ran out of it but the spring/stream is just a few hundred meters down the way. At this point I decide to leave my companion couple behind and pick-up the pace downhill thru the forest.
The cold water in the stream freshens me up so I start running and I even pass some competitors after getting out on the dirt road. I’ve been going for almost 6 hours now and I feel that I can keep it running all the way to Plaiul Foii, but a coupe Km down the road I catch-up with Marius B. so I slowed down to walk & talk to him.
Unfortunately my cell phone is dead (my sweat killed the battery) so I ask Marius B. to let me call my wife from his cell (I knew she’s worried) -quot; I manage to tell her that it might take longer than I thought and the signal gets lost-
Marius B. was a good company so we start shuffling (run / walk / run / walk-) and after some newly built villas we reach the cabin Plaiul Foii (Km25) -quot; 6h14min from the start.
This checkpoint serves as the main aid-station in this race so we start eating/drinking the goodies on the table (chicken soup, fruits, Sponser carbs-drink) like we’ve been doing a week long starving diet!
I’m supposed to stop and bail-out here so I ask the organizers "when do we get a ride to Zarnesti?" -quot; answer is "2 hours later"- Marius B. says "let’s keep going" and another guy (Andrei R.) who arrived a couple minutes ahead of us says the same! Andrei was actually thinking also to bail-out here so we fiddle with the idea of continuing- I feel that I can go more (due to the excellent soup ) so I say "let’s keep going all 3 of us". And so it is.
I knew from Marius Rus that in this final part there’s a killer climb (up to Diana refuge) so I’m a little worried of how my legs will react but we start going at an easy pace.
Right after a Km we get off the dirt-road, onto the trail towards the climb and our confidence level drops seeing the incline ahead.
Andrei R. says that he feels good and picks up the pace leaving Marius B. & myself in his wake.
The fueling at Plaiul Foii sends us into the forest (nature-call) and so does the trail which winds up thro a rocky incline that gets more and more wall-like.
Marius B. needs to take a break and I give him my last Hammer Gel (US made carbohydrate gel) while I undress onto triathlon suit in order to avoid overheating on this climb.
He says that I should go if I can so I advise him to get a branch/stick (to aid him in climbing) and leave him behind.
This wild trail challenged me quite a bit but I kept going and half-way up some descending backpackers gave me a much needed cheer-on! After more than 30min of climbing I start seeing Andrei ahead and I figure that the refuge should be close so I charge on to catch-up to him. After another 10 minutes we reach the top almost in the same time and he tells me that he’s got some cramps while we drink some water at the aid station.
Relieved that I "survived" this last climb I start descending on the other side of the mountain and seeing that Andrei R. follows me closely I ease-up so we can chat. He asks me many questions about triathlon (especially about IRONMAN) and his interest strikes me positively -quot; concluding that he might give it a try, once.
In the meantime while jumping from rock-to-rock we pass a group of 3 competitors who seemed to be in good mood, joking and wishing us "good luck".
Time flies by and we find ourselves at the next check-point (Coltii Chiliilor monastery) were the trail widens and soon we can see the dirt road towards Zarnesti. I sense that Andrei got tired and as soon as we get on the road I ask him "can you run with me?" -quot; he answers "at least I can try!" -quot; so we trot along. A coupe minutes later Andrei says "go ahead and run your pace, I’ll just try to hang on!" so I ease into a cruising 5min/Km pace and try to locate the church tower that indicates the finish-line (city center).
All these past 8 hours the course was really well marked but as soon as I enter the city, the road splits so I ask a walking lady " which way is School No.5?" -quot; she points me towards the good direction and I continue running- after a couple more curves I get to another road split but I recognize the final stretch and go for my final sprint (even though nobody was coming from behind).
My GPS shows 8:37 when crossing the finish-line and many competitors there are welcoming me by applauses.
I feel proud and relieved now -quot; I did it, even though the plan was to not finish!
A couple minutes later Andrei R. arrives and I give him a friendly handshake for keeping me company these past couple hours. It was great to support each other in this challenge!
Next, we get into the school’s sports hall, where huge pots of spaghetti, soup & fruits were waiting for us!
I meet and chat w/ Marius R. & Nelutu N. -quot; to my surprise Nelutu beat Marius by almost 15 minutes taking 1st place in age group 40-50 with a finishing time of 5:45 (Marius being in 2nd)!
I also see there Adi Cuculea (the brother of a colleague) who came on 5th place overall (5:12) and told me "It could have been better!"
Finally, Marius B. arrives (9:11) and we happily chat about the day we spent out there in the mountains!
I call again Luminita (this time from Marius Rus’s cell) to tell her the good news and hearing her sad voice I decide not to wait the awards ceremony- so I drove home, dreaming about next year’s race!

Offline stefanalex
Membru ForumstefanalexTrimite Mesaj
Din Ianuarie 2008
Oras / Locatie : bucuresti
Vineri, 3 Octombrie 2008 11:36
Succes Sandor !

Frumoasa povestire, sigur anul acesta vei obtine un timp mult mai bun.

Un vis ce sigur v-a deveni realitate.

Offline micuLRunner
Membru Ro Club MaratonmicuLRunner
Din Decembrie 2007
Oras / Locatie : Bucuresti
Vineri, 3 Octombrie 2008 13:06
Cata dreptate are stefanalex! Frumoasa, chiar excelenta povestirea ta, Sandor.
Asta mergea inclusa si pe blogul MPC sau pe un eventula pliant, daca s-o distribui -- vorbeste cu Lucian; uite pe mine unul s-ar putea sa ma ajute, mental -- acum ca am aflat ca de la Plaiul Foii la Zarnesti, pe sub poalele Dianei, se poate face intre 2:25 si 3:00 ore...
Fiecare dupa posibilitati, desigur.
Bafta maine: sa-ti bati PB / recordul!

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