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Back in November 2018, we mentioned that a brave bunch of Xoomies will be running the epic Transylvania One Hundred. Below is a guest post by David Bone, with some thoughts from Andreea Grozavu and Ciprian Iacob, who ran the mountain-based trail run two weeks ago. We’ve sent them off hoping our handmade marathon signs would keep them motivated.
“Back in 2018 I found out about the Transylvania One Hundred event held every year in the mountains of Bucegi, near Bran Castle (Dracula’s Castle). The pictures of the previous 5 years looked incredible – the scale of the mountains, the snow and ice, the terrain – it looked tough and a little bit brutal.
Having spoken to a few of my Xoomie colleagues I found out that there was some interest in running one of the shorter distances (what makes this event so appealing is that there are over 2000 runners from around the globe who can enter anything from 20 km, 30 km, 50 km, 80 km and up to the grand-daddy 100km). I entered the 100km (with very little on my mountain running CV to say I could do this) and all my Xoomie friends signed-up for the 20km.
One of the things I love about the ultra-running sport is that it is very community spirited. The aim (and code of the sport) is to help and support one another and this applies to the training as well as the event itself. It is also is a huge part of the Xoomie DNA. So, we set up a Microsoft Teams group and began to get to know each other a little better. We had colleagues coming from the UK as well as locals from Cluj-Napoca, many of whom had never been to Bran/Brasov before and who had no mountain race experience.
One Xoomie, Andreea, became an integral part of the passion and spirit of the team. She helped us get to know several of the great running groups in Cluj-Napoca and some of their club runners were also signed-up for the event (expanding our community all the time.)
Some of those training runs were as joyful as the event itself and exemplified the value of the journey. One of the biggest challenges of any extreme organised event, like Transylvania One Hundred, is to actually sign yourself up to it in the first place. Once that’s achieved then you have the months leading up to the event to get fit, get mentally ready, think about the logistics (travel/where you stay/ list of mandatory kit that you need to take and how you are going to feel after the event!) and then to stay on track. Unfortunately for us, there were weddings, babies and injuries (not all to the same Xoomie!) that forced some of the team reluctantly to pull out, though hopefully they can all make it next year.
Fast forward to May 17th 2019 and the core team were on the highway (with a constant supply of AC/DC on the stereo) and heading to our first place of stay – The Cow Shed Bran. Wow what an amazing place – we cannot recommend this place more highly. Everyone needs to get to feel and experience the real Transylvania and you will not find any easier way than staying in this stunning converted barn with owners Oana & Elliot.
For such a big event you need to make sure that you register the day before and you need to make sure that you have the right kit. When you are about to get thousands of metres high, like during Transylvania One Hundred, you need to be prepared for quite a high variety of weather conditions and the mandatory kit list makes sure that you are fully prepared for these. In the week before our race, the organisers were forced to change the course on several occasions due to the unusual four days of snow in the preceding week!
The race itself is best shared from the Xoomies that took part. Both Andreea and Ciprian had bravely decided to move up from the 20 km to the 30 km. During the registration for Transylvania One Hundred they allow you to move up or down the distances – they don’t want anyone pushing themselves too far with the dangers that potentially lay out there – including bears, which we will come back to…
I consider myself lucky to work in a company that offers its employees the chance to participate in sports events that connect with our beautiful Romanian landscape and history.
It was an exciting weekend full of emotions that determined both me and my colleagues to push our boundaries and offered us a bunch of special moments.
I already look forward to next year’s Transylvania One Hundred edition where I hope to see many more of our Xoomie colleagues taking part in such a memorable event that connects people of different cultures and regions.
Get out of your comfort zone and you will be rewarded with breath-taking landscapes, new friends and the desire to run for more! ~ Andreea
You know that moment when a friend asks you to do some crazy new stuff and you say yes without thinking too much? Well, that’s what happened in my case with Bogdan, one of our Xoomies as he heard from David about the Transylvania One Hundred race. Basically, we signed up months before and we had plenty of time to physically and mentally prepare for this new challenge ahead. One of my hobbies is exploring the beautiful Romanian mountains and as such I did long hiking trails and I knew that Bran area is one of the best you can get in our country (Piatra Craiului and Bucegi Mountains).
I love nature and everything about it and I always thought that we should be more respectful and spend more time understanding our connections with our home planet, Earth.
Fast forward two months before the event my friend Bogdan had to quit race because of the new full-time job he opted for and that’s being a father. Not an easy one if you ask me, but one of the most beautiful things that can happen to someone.
Time was running by as the event got closer and closer and thanks to my colleague Andreea I’ve found out about two running groups around Cluj-Napoca which gave me the necessary boost to start training for the 20k race (loved the training prior to the race in the mud even though I’ve spent couple of hours getting my shoes pristine again for the race).
Finally, the big day came, and we had to depart from Cluj-Napoca to Brasov to an AirBnB that looked really cool in the pictures, The Cow Shed Bran. On our way to Bran I played my 50 years old guy playlist, Tralfamadorian as I call it (read Slaughter house 5 book by Kurt Vonnegut for context) boosting our moral up with some classic rock hits. At some point during our commute to Bran Andreea told me that she will sign up for the 30k as it’s more challenging and involves more stunning landscapes and so I had to think if I’ll do that too and … not long after that I decided to follow her.
Once we arrived there after 6:30 hours’ drive, rain and heavy traffic, we found actually a hidden gem in Bran with one of the kindest hosts you can find Elliot & Oana. We checked in, enjoyed the view and left to pick up our running kit. Now, with our running kit and paperwork done we were ready for the race day. We woke up quite early in the morning, around 6:30AM, had a lovely breakfast made by Elliot and headed towards Bran castle where the race started at 9:00AM. Weather was looking really bad with small chances of sun and big chances of thunderstorm around 2 PM but guess what, that didn’t happen because the weather on the mountain is the same as people that go to hike it hence if you have a sunny soul the mountain will respond to you in the same way.
What a start, what weather, what a fight with myself this race was … but after 7:50 hours I managed to pass the finish line and accomplish my goal together with these wonderful people that were supporting me David, Andreea and Ioana. Also, I’d like to thank Xoomworks Technology for all the support and awesomeness.
I finish this sort story by saying that I’m looking forward for 50k next year. ~ Ciprian
To me, the Xoomie roadtrip to Brasov and the fact of participating to the Transylvania One Hundred, even if only as a supporter, meant being part of something genuinely special.
I believe that this sort of competition is more than a race – it’s a state of mind and it inspires others to step outside their comfort zone and to push themselves a bit further. And with the difficult mountain trail ahead of them, my colleagues had the chance to find out just how much they can push themselves further – and they should be proud of the answer.
When Andreea and Cipri arrived at the finish line, I remembered how they had decided, just a day before the contest, to move from 20k to 30k (which in the end turned out to be 35k), and I told myself that when their legs couldn’t run anymore, they probably ran with their heart and mind. It was so inspiring to see not only the athletic achievement, but also how important it is to be able to control your mind.
I must admit that I would have loved to run my heart out with them, but unfortunately my medical condition doesn’t allow me to run marathons. I do however exercise and I strongly encourage everyone to do the same – find a physical activity that you enjoy and make it part of your way of living. It will improve the quality of your life – something that Xoomworks Technology has been aiming to do for its employees for quite some time now, through different initiatives and activities, and I must say I am lucky to be working with people who have such mindset and who support events like this one.
All in all, I fell in love with this journey and everything that made it so special: our hosts Oana and Elliot, their lovely kid and fluffy Ildi, the landscapes, the fresh air, Cipri’s playlist, our Xoomies’ happy faces at the finish line. I am grateful for having had the chance to be a part of this and I invite everyone who loves sports and nature (or simply wants to support our brave marathoners) to join us next year for an indelible experience. ~ Ioana Vulturar
Congratulations to Andreea & Ciprian. They took a brave decision to move outside of their comfort zone with Transylvania One Hundred and sign-up for the 30km. They embraced absolutely everything about the race and both of them did themselves proud with brilliant race finish times. The smiles on their faces were unforgettable. When we sat together, as a jubilant team, under Bran Castle we listened as other competitors told us that they had been chased by two bears – how lucky they were! Definitely coming back next year as we want some bear action too!
The whole weekend really was a dream team-building event – one which we love at Xoomworks Technology. We had a mixed team of runners as well as supporters. We had amazing support from colleagues back in our offices – making us great banners, sourcing our First Aid kit and constantly messaging us and wishing us well. The Leadership Team, too, has been fully supportive and proactive from the beginning.
We met some amazing people along the way of Transylvania One Hundred – new friends for life were discovered in the mountains. We immersed ourselves in the local Transylvania culture/cuisine/history and even a cheeky bit of politics. For all of our friends around the world, we would definitely recommend a trip to the Transylvanian mountains and if you need any help planning such an adventure, then come and ask us how we can help you. We were lucky enough to take in the delights of Brasov – perfect sunshine and morning coffee in Nola (much talk about whether Brasov could be our next office – yes please); Peles Castle, a stunning example of rich German/Romanian history as well as a final team meal at Vlad Dracul restaurant near the main square in historic Sighisoara.
We arrived back in Cluj-Napoca thoroughly exhausted (and a little bit smelly) but totally on a high. This was a trip that we will never forget. Looking forward to the next one already.”
All that said, we’re very excited to see who takes to the mountains next year for Transylvania One Hundred 2020!