19 May 2013

Brasov to Bran Marathon

After almost two years of regular trail running I feel confident that I can cover longer distances outside competitions and outside my "backyard" trails on Postavarul Mountain. This summer I would like to do some long runs high in the mountains so I felt that is a good time to try a longer yet not too difficult run outside the trails I am familiar with.

It happened that this weekend my work colleagues rented a chalet in the beautiful mountain village Bran, on the foot of the famous Bran Castle. So let's attend this group event and make my appearance with style...

By car, on the main road, Bran is about 25km away from my home city Brasov. However, I am a trail runner and I really do not like running or cycling along main roads and on flat terrain... so I planned a better route on the foothills of Postavarul and Bucegi Mountains. I know well the route. I did it a few times by bike in the opposite direction. It follows mainly forest unpaved roads with little traffic. I also know that there are two springs well located along the way where I can refill my water bottle.

This is the track recorded by my GPS device:

I initially planned for a long 6 hours run as the forecast announces rather warm and humid weather. I am also not fully recovered after the 42km Ecomarathon race so I know that I have to keep a comfortable pace. It turned out that the weather was cooler than I expected, with the sky mostly covered by clouds so I could run without suffering from heat. I eventually covered the distance in less that four and a half hours - not bad at all for.

I started the day with a very consistent breakfast then I prepared my little running backpack and at 7:40 AM I started. I always eat a big breakfast before a long run. It includes lots of integral cereals as they would be digested slowly and give me energy during the run. Such a breakfast often keeps me full until well after the run is finished! The full stomach also keeps my running pace low at the beginning, forcing me to run economically. I then reach the energy peak about two hours into the run when the food is fully digested.

Below are some of the photos I have taken along the way. Some of them are shaken as I took many photos while running. The photos are straight from the camera without any kind of processing except down-scaling.

The run starts from my home in the picturesque, village like Schei district of Brasov.

I am heading south to Pietrele lui Solomon cliffs on the city limit. The last kilometer if the road to the city limit was asphalted lat week.

First dog of the day... A nice one this time. Dogs were my biggest concern as I was running alone. It is spring time and as expected, I met many flocks of sheep along the way. Every shepherd keeps a few dogs around. These shepherd dogs can sometimes be quite aggressive.

I start ascending on the popular "Drumul Vechi", the old road to Poiana Brasov mountain and ski resort.

I soon leave the forest road and follow a more direct narrow trail to Poiana.

I reached Poiana Brasov. A quick look towards Postavarul Mountain. I then cross the road and head to Stana Turistica.

In the distance, a first glimpse of the mighty Bucegi Mountains.

I follow a nice unpaved road with the view of Bucegi mountains in front of me in the distance.


I reach the road from Poiana Brasov to Rasnov

I follow the paved road for about one kilometer. It is quite early so the road is almost deserted.

I take a shortcut on a hiking trail through the forest

I reach the paved road again and soon I have my first spring water of the day. Time to hydrate myself and make sure that I leave with a full bottle.

I pass by the entrance to the nice Valea Cetatii limestone cave. It is still early. Just a couple of cars in the car-park. It will get much busier later!

The road continues downhill towards the town of Rasnov

I pass by the entrance to the famous Rasnov Medieval Fortress. The fortress is up on the hill hidden by the forest.

Plenty of bed and breakfast (pensiune) options in Rasnov...

I run for a while on the streets of Rasnov.

Interesting... this sign must be left from the marathon that was organised here in February.

I exit Rasnov and continue to the south on the unpaved and quite dusty road to Glajariei valley. This guy on the bicycle followed me for a few kilometers. it was nice to know that I am not alone on the road.

I am getting closer to Bucegi Mountains.

A warning for the unauthorized motorists. At this point I leave the main forest road on Glajariei valley and turn west towards Bran on a forest road with restricted traffic.

Soon I reach the second water spring of the day. Time for refreshments. I have a banana and an energy bar.

I am not alone. Some folks are carrying some logs in a trailer.

This was the only aggresive dog of the day. Barking and comming close to me, showing his teeth. It was the smaller of the pack... The big ones were just watching. I kept it at a distance with a stick that I grabbed from the road side.

The forest road to Bran at the foot of Bucegi Moountains goes uphill at first.

In a forest clearing I catch a glimpse of the Brasov depression and the round shape of the Magura Codlei hill.

The sign reminds me that I am on the border of Bucegi Natural Park.

A look back to Bucegi Mountains. It starts to rain a bit.

I am getting out of the forest heading to the pastures of Sohodol village. The uphill is over! From here it is only downhill to Bran, my destination!

A nice view to the south, along the Bran pass

Another look back to Bucegi Mountains

First houses

A look to the north towards Brasov depression

A view of Bucegi again.

The road is getting larger... so I am getting closer to "civilisation"

Down in the valley, Bran, my destination!

I reached the main road in Bran. A few more hundreds of meters and my quest is over!