13 running competitions of 2021
It would be great to be able to take 1st place in every competition you enter, but success can be defined in more ways than just taking the top step on the podium. Success, in running, can be defined as finishing an injury-free season motivated and energized for the next season.
For me 2021 was a very competitive year. I trained less (near the end of the year I ran about 4000 kiometres), but I didn’t lack to take start to competitions. I enjoyed running with my pulse racing events ranging from 10 minute events to ultramarathons lasting over 20 hours. In conclusion, I will always prefer the longer ones, because I’m better at them and because they involve more food.
And I always enjoy running “for all my money”.
3000m National Championship
Bucharest, 6 February
09:24:31, 20th place
I started the competitive year very early, choosing to run the 3000m indoor event. It was a first for me. If you get to start this kind of competition at 30, chances are you’re the oldest athlete on the line or in your wave.
I was lucky with Damian that he took my place as the “oldest” athlete in our wave.
For me it was my first 3000m track race, so however I finished, the final result was a personal best.
Right from the start I relied on the experience of Bogdan Damian who has run this event before. The strategy was simple: “don’t start (too) hard and stay as long as you can with him, don’t overtake in the turn and try to have the fastest last kilometre”.
I sat at the start with a pair of Altra (XC Racer) while all the other runners had pegs. The laps went by very quickly, although during the 9 minutes I had my heart rate at record levels.
Without much specific training, the incline of the tower gave me a headache and a sore glute post race.
The intermediate times “shouted” by Sergiu, the CSM Cluj coach helped me realize that I was slowing down on the last mile instead of speeding up.
I finished in 09:25, a true parameter of the form I was in.
10 km Road National Championship
In Timisoara I had a difficult day.
A bumpy 2.5km loop and a pain in my right side prevented me from doing my PB for the 10km distance. I don’t know exactly what caused the pain that almost brought me to my knees.
Maybe I left too little time between breakfast and the run, maybe I drank too much coffee, maybe I started too hard.
I finished the race in 34:11 and with a desire to do better.
50 km Road National Championship
București, 17 april
3:08:43, 7th place
The ultramarathon is my home. It’s the event I feel best at and have the best results at. In ultra running you need to be patient, you need to know your strong and weak sides, you need to save your energy reserves for the end.
You don’t have to give everything from the start. You need to have a strong finish, something I’m very good at.
For the first time, a National Championship was held at this distance in Bucharest. The competition was a qualifying event for the 50km World Championships in China – a competition that was eventually cancelled, but I’m glad that the FRA organised this race.
New national records were set in various events, and I did my PB for the marathon distance (2h:34min) because I had the opportunity to constantly fuel up and be encouraged every 4km.
I ran almost the whole distance with my teammate from CSM Cluj, Andrei Crainic. It was also a good day for the CSM Cluj team with whom I took 2nd place.
I was impressed by Corneschi who won all 3 events I started in the last months 3000m, 10km, 50km. It seems you can be good at everything!
Putna, First stage
42km, 1st place
I made a trip to the place where the map hangs on the nail to run the first 42 kilometres of ViaTransilvanica, at Transilvania Legends.
It was a day full of mud, beautiful scenery and good cheer. A day where a good training earned me 1st place in the first stage of the first edition of Transilvania Legends, a multistage race of over 650 kilometers on ViaTransilvanica.
After the stage, I left for Tășuleasa Social where I spent the next week.
Feleacu Running Hills
19+ 9 km, Cluj Napoca,
1:59, 2nd place
Feleacu Running Hills
When I think of Cluj, I think of the friends I’ve made over the years there: Peter, Paul, Bogdan, Florin, Răzvan, Mișu, and how delighted I am when I see them again and how we sit around chatting over a (too) spicy dinner or a bottle of wine.
I happily come back to this city for them, and if there’s a competition, all the better.
From Feleacu Running Hills I didn’t have very high expectations. Especially since it was 3 days away from Transilvania Legends. It’s true that I didn’t pull myself hard at the 42 km race in Bucovina, but I didn’t want to kill myself at the two start race in Cluj either.
I remember that the first race, the 9 km race, started very hard and the front runners were getting lost one by one. I was on the lookout, following the correct route. I was like a sly old fox.
Surprising even to me, I finished the short race in 2nd place and the long race also in 2nd place, finishing – you guessed it – 2nd overall.
The winner was Andrei Ivănescu, who beat me by 1 minute and some change in the overall standings.
After the race, I peeled off the best pizza, which also seemed endless. I think pasta party should turn into pizza party.
3:07min, 1st place
Via Transilvanica Maraton
After almost 10 days of “settling in” to a place I hoped I wouldn’t end up in anytime soon (military trauma), I started the competition which took less time than I would have liked, but which brought me 1st place.
This competition was like a running celebration. The bright raw green woods, runnable climbs, delicious burgers at the finish and endless beer were some of the bonuses provided by the organizers.
I had the opportunity during these 10 days to wander the ViaTransilvanica, spend a few good days with Tibi, drink a few bottles of wine, do the cypress, sauna and plan for the year that promised much.
It was like a mini all inclusive holiday where Mrs Aurica took care of us from sunrise to sunset.
Suncuius, 3rd place
Primavera TrailRace National Ultramarathon Championship - Șuncuiuș
Since the beginning of 2021, I have done almost every run with this competition in mind. A competition that was postponed in the first phase and that gave my plans to participate in Transgrancanaria and Lavaredo upside down .
The reason: a possible qualification for the Ultramarathon World Championships in Thailand. That’s why I chose to participate in the National Championships and give it my all.
We expected it to be a hot day and to suffer because of it. The first part of the race was quite hot, but then a rain came and cooled us down.
With a bit of luck, I came 3rd after Andrei Preda and Toma Valentin.
We had an exemplary check-point and a great accommodation at Victor’s hamlet.
38 km, 2200+
Only 6 days have passed since the 80+ km race in Șuncuiuș. However, I also decided to run the Brasov Marathon. Because it’s 1 km from home, because it’s on the trails where I train, because I would have been sorry not to do it.
It wasn’t an easy day here either. Maybe because I’m not as trained as I think I am, maybe because the time allotted for speed was unproductive, maybe because I’m tired, I found it hard to even run the serpentines to the top of the Tâmpa.
What’s clear to me is that things can turn out better than you expect.
I was around kilometre 16, before Postăvaru peak, and I was thinking of abandoning because I was in 5th place. Besides, knowing all the trails, I knew how to get straight home, on the Old Road. However, I told myself that I had to take the run to the end, turn it into a long run, if I couldn’t be a bit more competitive.
But soon, the runners in front of me started having problems: cramping, dehydration, dropping off the pace. So over the next few miles, on the downhill, I came in 3rd place, more than happy that in 7 days I “maxed out 2 races”.
Bucovina Ultra Rocks
85 km, 5400+, 1st
Bucovina Ultra Rocks
I was undecided until the last minute. I didn’t know which race to choose: 85, 110 or 180.
I chose to run a shorter race – 80km – in which I would gather maximum elevation. Oh, and that the start was at a decent hour.
It was the race that I went as hard as I could from the start – not something I’m known for. I wanted to see how long I could last. I think I managed to keep a pretty good pace until mile 60, when the heat came on and I found out I was over 30 minutes off 2nd place.
It was the race where I ran out of gels and took a longer rest break before climbing the Runc.
Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc
Chamonix, 25 August
170 km cu 10100+
46th place, 27:45
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I went to the UTMB for the 5th time. 4 times I ran the 100 mile race. This time I suffered the most and chose to continue. This year I missed the longer 15 hour races and an altitude training camp, so when I got to 1800+ my strength would fail me.
On the bright side, there will be an edition next year and I will definitely be at the start line wanting to get a great result.
I’ve written a detailed history of the UTMB.
Sibiu International Half-Maraton
Sibiu, 21 km,
1h19, locul 4
Sibiu International Maraton
On a cool autumn day in the centre of Sibiu, we set off on a race that took us through the streets of the city, through the Village Museum, through Subarini Park.
It’s hard to get up to speed after a 100-mile race. Even though I felt like I had my engine revved to the max, I could barely run 3:50/km.
The run went by relatively quickly and left us plenty of time for pizza.
Would it have been a good idea to run the Marathon event? Maybe at the 2022 edition.
Castelon de la Plana
110 km, 5400+, Locul 3
After the UTMB I felt I still had energy for two end of year competitions. I chose Penyagolosa and MIUT.
In Castelon I ran the 105km race which starts in the middle of the town and finishes below the Penyagolosa peak. Three years ago, when I was training for the World Championships, I promised myself that I would come back to run the longest race of the event.
It surprised me that I was the second favourite, after ITRA points, and I told myself I had a chance to be at least in the top 3.
I started the race slowly and, to my surprise, after 50 kilometres I was in 4th place. At kilometre 55 I was in 3rd place and that’s how I finished the race. I pulled myself up for it, but it was worth it.
Penyagolosa Trails is a very runnable race, but very difficult because of the technical terrain, rocks and cliffs on the course. If on paper it looks like a fast race, at the time you think you’ll do it you’ll need to add at least 10%.
It was a delight to place 3rd in this competition. Three years ago I spent about 30 days in Vistabella, a village on the competition route, and this year I made the podium.
MIUT - Madeira Island Ultra Trail
Porto Moniz - Machico
115 km, 7200+, Locul 5
Madeira island ultra trail
Maria. MIUT. Madeira.
This was the plan for which I returned to this place for the 4th time.
When I left Porto do Sao Lorenco in the spring, I told myself that I would come back and ask Maria to marry me, right there.
6 months later I found my voice trembling as I popped the question.
Euphorically, after Maria said “I do,” the outcome of the race came to matter very little. I resolved to “suffer” as little as possible, thinking that a top 10 would mean a good result, a top 5 – very good, a top 3 – exceptional, and a 1st place – extraordinary.
I started the race with a problem with one of the sticks, ending the first CP in 30ish place. I still had time for another 110 kilometers to get through. Which I did.
I had a huge advantage in that I knew the course by heart and all I had to do was be patient and eat and run to the finish.
5th place was the bonus of this trip.
I see running as a journey, as a pleasant means of navigating everyday life. It’s what gives me meaning and gives me the feeling that I was born with a purpose. I’ve been lucky enough to turn this hobby into a lifestyle. However, my participation in these competitions would not have been possible without the help of Altra, Uglow, Datacor, Gold Nutrition, InfinityRun.
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