Trail running in Romania

Retezat Trail Race 2014  ….   a story about mountains and trail running, a story about smiles


I remember even now – I was seven years old, my father and I had left only for a while from Pestera Cottage (Bucegi Mounatins, Romania) and we were heading together towards Babele. A crazy wish to run away, to run towards the mountain’s peak was burning inside me. I did not know how to escape. I was forbidden to run on the mountain. I had no idea back then what trail running means. A miracle happened. My father had to go back to the tent and had the confidence to leave me alone. We were supposed to meet at Babele. Then I started to run on the mountain, then the virus was rooted in my soul and since then I have been feeling the voice that calls me to run on the mountain. That was the first session of trial running in my life.


After many years I have came to participate in the first trail running competition – Retezat Trail Race. The exacerbated competitive spirit made me feel suffocated at the start, but this year I found many other reasons to take this step and I was able to ignore the idea that I will loose myself somewhere in the crowd, far from first places.

  Trail running – what an intense madness!

Trail running is like the life that you live for a few hours, everything condenses, you go rapidly from positive feelings to despair, you feel your limits, you achieve a big happiness, it hurts, you suffer, you enjoy, you smile, you look for solutions, you keep going, you help, you are helped and you know that no matter what happens you have to reach the destination. In Retezat Trail Race I ran 28 km. I took this long ride whit confidence. I was excited about the idea that I will get close to 2.500 meters. I liked a lot the fact that the last part was a long descent. I relied on the difficulty of the land and I hoped in a coming back. It was the perfect opportunity to discover Retezat Mountains and to have a happy start in a trail running race.

Five hours in haven, trail running in Retezat

I first arrived in Retezat now participating in Retezat Trail Race. Retezat Mountains are different. When I say this I think at Bucegi, Iezer, Fagars, Piatra Craiului, Ciucas and I feel that I have all the reasons to say it. I somehow felt them “warmer”, more alive. I was impressed since the beginning (I would say after about 50 minutes of running) by the clearings that followed the road through the forest. The scenery was of a rare beauty. The descent to Buta Cottage and the climb through the forest towards the alpine hollow also offered wonderful landscapes. The pictures on the contest’s Facebook page clearly show this. I have decided to go to this trail running race, Retezat trail running race, just because I was relying on the fact that I would get a few hours of paradise. I had flair. I received as I dared to hope.

Time hides when you are trail running

I was shocked by how I perceived the passage of time during this trail running race. “The long time”, the hours, have passed very quickly. I was always amazed how fast were going by the hours . “The short time”, the moment, was awfully long and hard. There was always a pressure from others competitors, both from those approaching from behind and those moving away in front of me. First we went in Indian file through the sticky forest. The mud slowed us all. It was a dirty trail running experience, at least at the beginning of the route. In the median area of the platoon the competitors went with big steps. There the pressure was high, you felt like you were squeezed by a pincer. If you chose to leave the platoon even for a moment you knew it was for good. You could easily loose the contact with the others for a while. I do not know when time has passed. I kept in mind a sequence of images and feelings, some of them timeless, kept away from temporal degradation.

 Being there….

It is beautiful when you imagine, when you see pictures, when you go there with your friends. But to get in a marathon on Retezat’s magical paths is a maximum joy. The atmosphere at the start of a competition, the climb “side by side” to the hermitage, sliding along in the Plesca Peak area, the hardcore descends (exactly like those of ski, full of adrenaline), the whirling about at the supply points, the meeting with rain and then with sleet near Custura Peak, the scattered row of people tortured by the hard climb or the infernal descent, the paved road, the orchards located before the starting point, all these remained vivid in my mind. To be there, to feel the competition’s vibration, to be alive and to go on are some joys you do not forget. Another moment stayed in my mind. During the climbing to Custura, a hard and torturing climb through fog and sleet, a great happiness hit me. I was smiling long and frankly, “as a stupid”, without knowing why, without caring about it. And this sudden transition from despair to good mood was so shocking that it seemed that I was vibrating more, being aware of the moment’s strangeness.

Keep going….

Yes, it is a drinking slogan but beyond this it is also a good belief in trail running competitions and even in life. In Retezat Trail Race I had reasons to go on and the happiness after about 24 km was soothing. I say this because the last few kilometres were gentler; you were running automatically, there was no effort. Even now I remember an image: at some point the route was turning from the country road through orchards with tall grass (there is a gallery on the contest’s Facebook page) and it seemed that you entered in the fairy tale world of Romanian folklore.


   Well, it was so nice….

I am sure that everyone said that and the few ones who have not said it yet will sure do it after their memories will be sifted and only the good ones will remain. You should go in Retezat because you will smile brightly and you will find yourself, the one who loves the beautiful and is sensitive! No, this was not only a trail running race it was a memorable experience of my life.

            Let’s hear only good things and always look for the beautiful around us either if we are practicing trail running or jus walk slowly on the life’s road.