Romania 2017: Maraton Retezat, 5 august

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.

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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…

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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: 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

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