The Transylvania in Romania has been on my to-run list for years and in 2019 I was finally able to take part because I qualified with the Zugspitze Marathon that I ran before. We flew to Bucharest and after a few days we went on towards Bran Castle, the ancestral seat of the Romanian Prince Dracula.
This is where the start and finish of this special ultra mountain run is located, in which one overcomes 6476 meters of altitude over the 100 km distance and climbs from 750 meters (start) to around 2507 meters. With the shorter 50K variant that I had chosen, the control point is also passed at an altitude of 2507 meters, but a total of only 3320 meters of altitude has to be overcome. The routes are always adjusted depending on the weather, so that my 50K route e.g. extended to around 55 km and the 100k route reduced to 80km - I was offered a change but I stayed with my 55KM.
Not only strength, endurance and a head for heights are prerequisites for successful participation - at the latest when you pack the bear whistle, which is part of the compulsory equipment and you think about the right behavior for encounters with wolves, it becomes clear that Draculas is organizing a very special competition in the Carpathian Mountains becomes. Then there are the difficult and unpredictable weather conditions. On arrival in Schäßburg we received the message from the organizer that due to heavy snowfall, spikes for the shoes would now be compulsory for the competition. With a bit of luck we found an outdoor shop in Schäßburg that still had the right size spikes to attach to the running shoes - we were lucky. On arrival in Bran, however, the sun was so strong that the previously fallen snow began to melt. This led to mud slopes and raging brooks, which now led water almost to waist height and had to be crossed.
It got serious when the landlady of our accommodation in Bran handed me 4 fireworks and a lighter for the run: "Help against wolves and bears", said the nice woman. And indeed bears were spotted the next day - but not by me, but after dark I saw it sparkling suspiciously in the forest ...
The planned 12 hours for the run turned into exactly 14. On the last 5 km I picked up an Englishman who admitted that beach runs were probably not that good preparatory training and a Slovenian who kept falling over from exhaustion - well , I couldn't leave them alone and the result was enough for 2nd place in my age group.
If you are interested in details about this outstanding competition, please contact me. With the keyword "Transylvania" you can also find interesting film reports on YouTube.