31 December 2013

2013 - My Running Statistics

Today I filled my last line of my 2013 running log table as I ended the year with a great trail running session on the hlls around Brasov. So it is time for some statistics of 2013:
  • 173 running sessions
  • Total distance: 2908 km
  • Average running distance per session: 16.8 km
  • Average running distance per week: 55.9 km
  • Total running time: 347.5 hours
  • Average running speed: 8.37 km/h
  • Average pace: 7min10s / km
  • 9 races, all in the mountains, including four full marathons (~42km)
So I almost had one running session every two days.
The total distance seems much, but it is not much more than the road distance from Bucharest to London. In any case, I ran 1400km more than in 2012, a quite impressive increase that shows that I became a better runner.

The average speed/pace looks quite low, but keep in mind that I run on mountain trails... probably one third of my running is uphill. I also often include break times in the total time.

I do not have a statistic for the total accumulated elevation gain during 2013. I would reckon that a conservative estimation would be 100,000 meters; that is 100km... more than 11 times climbing the Everest from the sea level to the top. Bucegi 7500 hobby race was the running tour with the highest elevation gain: 3500m.

During the year my preferences shifted towards longer runs at a more relaxed and natural pace. This is why, at this moment I do not feel very attracted to racing... I do not plan many races in 2014. Probably just 2 or 3 marathons.

I also did quite a few hiking and ski touring trips and a few cycling ones during 2013. I did not include these in the statistics. I can add that I do a lot of walking around the city... I reckon I have walked through the city at least 1800 km in 2013...

So that was my running 2013 in numbers... See you next year.
Have a great 2014!

27 December 2013


Hochnebel - a German word used in the Alps that describes the "sea of clouds" weather phenomenon. It simply means high fog. Usually, the phenomenon appears in the cold months of the year and is caused by low lying stratus clouds. At the extreme, the low-lying stratus clouds can last for many weeks and they can cover vast areas like whole countries leaving just the mountain peaks above in the sunshine. Below the clouds there is the most depressing possible weather: a monotone cold humid grey... Above the clouds.. well, there is the most glorious weather: warm and bright, above a sea of clouds that stretches to the horizon.

In the Alps, the altitude of the clouds' upper limit is mentioned on the weather-reports so people can plan their weekend trips above the clouds. Not so in Romania where I live. Most people here are not aware that a few hundred meters above the miserable weather the sky can be blue and the sun shining!

In cities, under the sea of clouds, the air also gets very polluted. The static weather means that there is no wind to sweep away the fumes from the cars, industry and buildings heating. The cold air only makes it worse as more fuel is burned for heating.

So during the cold months of the year, when the weather is grey, if you live close to the mountains, check the web-cams on the mountains. You might have a surprise!

This year, the winter in Brasov started with 3 weeks of Hochnebel. So whenever possible, I chose my trail running routes so I would reach the sunshine above the clouds. What a joy getting out of the fog into the sunshine... and what a shock descending back to the city through the cold humid fog...

Here are a few photos with the sea of clouds phenomenon in the mountains around Brasov, taken during the last years:

09 December 2013

Winter in Brasov

We got some fresh snow in Brasov over the weekend.  Not yet enough for proper skiing, but a little snow on the trails makes them perfect for running! In my opinion, the best surface for running is packed snow with a thin layer of fresh snow on top of it. This is exactly how it was this weekend and I enjoyed a lot my running sessions.
Here is a couple of photos taken yesterday morning in the forest. My daughter enjoyed the snow a lot!

I returned on the hills in the afternoon for a running session. I tested my new Salomon Snowcross shoes. I quite like them! I had very good traction and control in these spiked winter shoes. Running downhill on the snowy trails was a delight! The snow was not quite deep enough to fully test the integrated gaiters of the shoes, but in any case, my feet remained dry for the entire run.

Together with the snow cover, Brasov also got the festive look, as the Christmas lights were turned on on Friday evening. Here are a few photos from the old city center. The complete album can be found here.

Brasov. On George Baritiu Street
The impressive Christmas tree in Sfatului Square, in the heart of the old Brasov
Brasov, Republicii Street
Brasov. The City Hall
Brasov. The stairs to Cetatuia (Fortress) Hill
Brasov. View from Cetatuia (Fortress) Hill
Brasov. The old City seen from Cetatuia (Fortress) Hill
Brasov. Behind the old city walls

23 November 2013

A Roller-Coaster Run around Brasov

Several people have asked me what is the Roller-Coaster, that I mention in my Running Log page. It is my city running route for the winter evenings when it gets dark early so I cannot run in the forest and on the mountains as I do in summer after a working day.

I think that this route resembles a roller-coaster as it goes up and down on the steep hills around the historical city center of Brasov. It is a beautiful route, passing by many of the Brasov landmarks and offering great views towards the old city center. The route tries to avoid the busy roads staying higher on the hills. All the route is lit by street lights, making it suitable for night running, but it is a good idea to have a head-lamp as some sections are not so well lit.

I always start the route from Prund, the center of the old and picturesque Schei district of Brasov, very close to my home. The place is officially known as Piata Unirii (Union Square). The route measures just 10km in length and accumulates a respectable 310m of elevation gain. I can complete it in just under an hour of relatively relaxed pace running.

You can see much of the route overlaid on the photo below. I took this photo two weeks ago from the top of Tampa Mountain.

Here is the GPS track as I recorded two years ago. It does not include the loop around the Fortress as at that time the loop was not illuminated: The Rollercoaster Route.
The GPS track is recorded two years ago, when I was still a slower beginner runner...

Here is a short description of the route illustrated with photos taken along the route over the last years.
The Route starts in Piata Unirii (Unirii Square), a good place to start a run on the hills around Brasov:

The east side of the square is dominated by the old Romanian Orthodox Cathedral, Sf Nicolae:

The route follows then Bailor street; a quiet street that also has a bicycle lane, something not very common in Brasov, especially in the crowded old city:

At the end of Bailor street the route passes by Andrei Saguna National College, one of the oldest Romanian colleges in Transylvania:

From here, the route passes through a small but beautiful park, guarded by very old trees:

At the other end of the park, across the street the Faculty of Forestry building:

From here the route stars the first steep ascent of the route along  the steep Cibinului Street. This is the longest ascent of the route, gaining about 100m in altitude:

The route follows Cibinului Street until almost the top of Warthe Hill. It then turns back to the city, crossing the main road to Poiana Brasov ski resort and descending on Stejarisului Street. Soon the Route reaches a beautiful panorama point. To the South-west the view opens towards the beautiful Schei District:

 To the south, the old walled city, at the bottom of the mighty Tampa Mountain:

 A winter view towards the old city, dominated by the famous Black Church:

The route then follows some nice paths through the forest, just above the old city:

We can see below Sfatului Square, the main square of the old city, dominated by the tower of the old city hall:

The route continues along the beautiful path:

It then passes by the old White Tower:

The trail gets out of the forest at Livada Postei park:

From here the route descends until Livada Postei, the starting point of the 12km road to Poiana Brasov ski resort. From here the route goes uphill again, along St.O Iosif Street, which is probably the steepest street in the whole Brasov! The slope is around 20%: 40 meters of altitude are gained in just 200meters. Then downhill again, on Fagetului Street, reaching the lowest point of the route, where we cross the busy Lunga and De Mijloc streets. Then again uphill on the Cetatuia (Fortress) Hill till the Fortress on the top. Here the route makes a loop around the old medieval Fortress:

The Fortress Hill offers us a beautiful 360 degrees panorama of the city and the surroundings. Here is the view to the north-west, with the round wooded shape of Magura Codlei Mouintain in the background. In the valley, the busy Lunga Street, that the route crossed earlier.

To the south we can admire the old city, nestled between the wooded hills, and in the distance the peak of Postavaru Peak, which is the highest point of Brasov (1799m):

A view of the old city from the Fortress Hill:

From the Fortress the route descends on a winding road back to the city center. We pass by the main Post Office, City Hall and the Prefecture Building:

The route crosses two busy streets:

Then it starts yet another ascent, this time towards the long alley that follows the old walls of the city on the bottom of Tampa Mountain:

From here we have again beautiful views towards the old city center:

In the distance, the city is guarded by the  Fortress Hill:

Bastionul Tesatorilor (The Weavers Bastion) and Olimpia tennis courts mark the south-west corner of the old city walls at the end of the long alley:

The route then passes by a cemetery for soldiers who died during the First World War:

 From here the route has one more ascent, then follows some smaller streets:

A few minutes later the route returns back to the starting point in Unirii Square, ending the beautiful 10km circuit.