This Saturday, 5th of August, was Retezat Marathon. And of course I signed up for the half – 24km through Retezat National Park, with a ~2000m climb.
The reason I’m writing this 3 days later is because I needed time to calm down so I won’t be all negative about it.
The truth is, this race was the worst for me: Hell on a plate. A neverending plate full of sunburnt rocks. It took me almost 9 hours to finish. I have to admit it was mostly my fault for not being prepared for the race. In the past month I only ran 2 times and underestimated this one, thinking that I can finish any race with a smile.
This was not the case. My finish was in tears and terrible leg pain. I didn’t even recorded or took any picture.
If you watch the video, you will see a pattern: rocky road, rocks and only rocks. I know that is how Retezat mountains are, I’ve been to Retezat Skyrace 3 times, but this particular race is uncomparable. One of a kind. And is not for everyone, definitely not for me. While I was climbing the rocks and praying for the finish line, I swore to myself that was the one and only time I will take part of that race.
But on second thought, I might do it again next year, more prepared. And with my trail shoes 3 numbers up. Because even if I had them one number bigger, my toenails turned black.
The views were amazing and maybe with a better mental preparation I could enjoy it more.
This is a picture at the begining, after 4Km, heading up to Retezat peak, total of 7Km. See that smile? It didn’t last long.
After the first climb was the first alimentation point. Time limit there was 3 hours. It took me 2h:40min. And I remember laughing days before: “who needs 3H do make 7k?? ” yeah…
There was no water also until the next check point at km 12. I had to survive with 1L of water from my camelback and drink from a spring that was on my way up. I drank like half liter from it. It was the most refreshing moment. The water was so cool and sweet, making me want to drink forever.
But then I snapped out of the dream and moved foreward.
While I was getting closer to the second check point, after climbing more rocks, this awesome view came along:
If I wouldn’t have been so far behind, I would have put my feet in that lake. Instead I just cooled down for a minute, put my hand in the water, then left. Food and water was waiting for me 2 km ahead. There I sat 5 minutes filling my mouth with protein chocolate bars and lemons.
Little did I know from there on, I would still need 4 more hours to finish. Actually, from there on, I started to mentally collapse. I met a few cows on my way, I talked to them. First sign I was going cuckoo! Also at that point I realized I was being all alone. I was a little worried I might get lost, but everything was clearly marked.
As a whole, Retezat Maraton was a good race, well organized with no problems whatsoever. The problem was me and the way I jumped into this race unprepared.
I honestly recommend this race, if you want something hardcore. But make sure you and your ankles are made for this. If not, Retezat Skyrace 23km might be a better option 🙂 However, the 28 km Skyrace version has a rough climb at the end and it’s a mindbolwing experience from what I’ve heard and seen. But still, not as rough as THIS Retezat Marathon.
Don’t believe me it was the hardest race in all Romania? Give it a try in 2018.