01 July 2017

A Beautiful Sky Run route in Bucegi Mountains

As forecasted, today was the hottest day of the year so far. Over 30C in Brasov. Too hot for running... Actually south of the Carpathians it was over 40C today. By comparison Brasov was a very pleasant and cool place today!

In any case, it was clear to me that if I wanted to run I had to look for cooler temperatures high on the mountains and also to start early and keep the uphill in the shade. So I was very happy when my colleague Vlad said that he was going to join me on the mountain run I proposed.

We started early and by mid-day we we completed our sky running tour. Almost half of the rpute was above 2000m altitude and we touched all three of the major north side peaks of Bucegi Mountain: Bucsoiu (2492m), Omu(2505m), Scara(2422m).

It was warm also high on the mountain, but the strong wind kept us cool and our T-shirts dry!

Here is the movie of the run:

And a few photos:

Malaiesti Valley

Looking Down to malaiesti Valley from Brana Caprelor

Looking back to Bucsoiu and Omu Peaks

The small Tiganesti glacial lake

The GPS recorded route:

09 June 2017

Hit The Top 2017

2017, June, 4, the 7th edition of "Hit the Top" race. My fourth participation.

There is not much more to add to my previous year post. The same short, steep, very intense race; well organised with very good runners taking part. The most notable difference was the weather - this year just perfect for a mountain running race. As a consequence my time was around 8 minutes better than last years's. I reached Omu Peak in around 1h30, and descended in  58 minutes. It sounds quite impressive until one realizes that the fastest runners in the race hit the top in 1h10 and then descend in just 30 minutes!

Photo by Király Csaba

This video produced by the organizers captures very well the spirit and atmosphere of the race:

HTT7 from ion trandafir on Vimeo.

Here is my run recorded by the Strava app:

Also available as a video:

Thanks to the organizers, volunteers, runners and the mountain/running fans that encouraged us along the way. See you next year!

23 April 2017

Brasov Marathon 2017... Winter Edition

Brasov Marathon is a well organized mountain trail running race with a beautiful route along the same trails I use to run every week. I participated three times in this event. However, this time, for the second year in a row, I did not participate, although I was considering it. I still run a lot, but I do not feel the urge to compete in races.

This year edition was very special! The organizers were once more lucky to have a beautiful sunny day for the races, but the conditions were truly extraordinary! If the weather at some previous editions was sometimes too warm, this year it was not only too cold, the abundant fresh snow made it feel like in the middle of the winter!

It is not unusual to get cold weather spells and snow flakes during April in Brasov. However, this year it snowed almost continuously for two days in a row, and temperatures dropped below 0 degrees. It started to snow on April 19, Wednesday evening, and stopped two days layer, just half a day before the race... The snow in the town was about 30cm; up the mountains, the fresh layer of snow measured more than half a meter!

On Friday I went skiing enjoying the best powder of the season! I was thinking that the marathon race would be canceled. However, the organizers decided to go ahead, probably encouraged by the good weather forecast. The list of mandatory equipment was updated and the route was shortened a bit - the highest point would not be Postavarul peak, but Postavarul  mountain hut, located 200m lower, near the ski slopes.

The night from Friday to Saturday was very cold for an April night. The sky cleared over night and in the morning the landscape looked like in the middle of winter!

7AM in the morning I started from the edge of the city on my touring skis. The plan was to reach Postavarul Peak (1799m) in about 3 hours and move fast enough so the marathon runners would not catch me up.

Well, going up the mountain proved to be much tougher than I thought.  Even below 1000m altitude the snow was almost 50cm deep and there were just a few foot prints on the trail. I had to work hard for every meter of altitude. It became clear that at some point the runners will catch me.

This happened on Crucur Mountain, just before the trail reaches the ridge. First group of runners overtook me. They ran like a fast train, apparently not slowed down by the deep fresh snow. But I knew ho much extra effort is needed to keep going like that in deep snow.

On the last steep slope in the forest, just before reaching the ridge I got stuck in the deep snow with my skis. The runners kept coming and as I did not want to block the path I took the opportunity to take more photos of the race. Eventually my hands started to freeze and as there were fewer runners on the trail I moved on. After so many runners had passed the snow on the trail was packed, so it was much easier to go ahead.

A few more kilometers and I have reached the sunny ski slopes on Ruia plateau at 1500m altitude. As the ski season was officially closed, the ski slopes were almost deserted. Just one cable car was functioning as it is the case during the summer season... Here I left the marathon route and joined the ski touring trail... There were many skiers climbing the mountain on touring skis and enjoying the beautiful day.

I continued my way up and almost four hours after leaving home I have reached the mountain summit. After enjoying the mountain views I slowly descended on the mountain on my skis, enjoining every turn on the perfect slopes!

From Poiana Brasov ski resort I descended to the city on on skis through the forest. I knew that the old road of Poiana (Drumul Vechi) had enough snow, because I have skied it down the day before. However, this time the snow was melting fast under the strong April sun. I could just make it down on skis on the slushy snow... 
The spring was in the air again!

Here is the complete set of photos I took with the Marthon Runners.

And this is my day track:

09 April 2017

Winter strikes back!

Every springtime in Brasov, the winter does not leave without fighting back. Sometimes we get snow as late as end of May. Snow falls in April are quite common in Brasov, often quite abundant! but the springtime snow lasts longer only on the higher mountains.

Yesterday it was a cold gray and wet day. In the morning I could see that the hills above Brasov were white with fresh snow. After the rain stopped I did a run into the forests. Above 1000m altitude the landscape was white, looking almost like a real winter.

Today, Sunday, the weather got better, just perfect to venture higher on the mountains. This time I took my skis and went to Poiana. I started to climb Postavarul mountain on foot and about half way up I found-out that the season ski pass was still available today, although the ski season was officially closed last week! I had a ski pass with one hour left on it... so I used it, then I remained high on Postavarul Mountain to enjoy the fresh off-piste powder snow.! Then on skis to Poiana and from there on foot back home.
I had a good cross training today: Hiking up and down to and from Poiana Brasov  ski resort, skiing on slopes and off piste and climbing a valley on ski boots...

Here are a few photos I took today. Winter on the mountains, springtime in the valleys...

03 April 2017

Springtime in the forest

This year, again Springtime surprised us. It came after a rather cold and long winter that stood out against the warmer winters we experienced in the last decade. During the month of march the weather did its usual swings from cold and snowy, to very warm... then a bit of more snow... and finally, April came with very warm and sunny weather.
On Friday I did a run through the wakening forests and, like every year, I was amazed by the multitude of springtime flowers blooming on the forest floor. So yesterday I have returned at a much slower pace with a better camera than my phone and took a few photos. Enjoy:

21 January 2017

What a winter!

Finally! After four years of warmer than usual winters we have a proper winter as they used to be. Starting from the beginning of December, a stable an unusual jet stream meander brought us polar air for most of the winter so far.
And when the polar air meets the warmer moist air of the Mediterranean and the Black seas, snow storms are created - like the one we had at the beginning of January that dumped 30cm of snow in the city and more than half a meter on the high mountains around Brasov, on top of older 20-30cm.

Here are some photos taken this January, during ski touring, hiking and running activities that I did around Brasov.