ultra race romania

250km | 6 Stages | self-supported
 10-18 AUGUST 2023

Where legends meet

When we first thought about setting up Ultra Race Romania we wondered what it really takes to run 250km in a remote part of the world, in self-sufficiency? Courage? A bit of madness? Recklessness? And how are the people who usually embark on such adventures? What drives you to reach the finish line?

Tell us more about yourself Kristine, how and when you started to feel in love with ultra running and with sport in general?

In May 2016, my husband signed me up for a women’s trail running festival – one, I might add, I absolutely did not want to go to because I detested trail running (admittedly I had never tried it) and I didn’t know a soul. He convinced me to go by telling me that that was what he wanted for his birthday (the festival fell right on his actual birthday so how could I say no?!). With the festival entry came a free registration for a trail race at the end of the summer. I actually really enjoyed it so I signed up for my free race and chose the 6km distance, thinking “well, I have run marathons so how hard could it be.” After a few weeks of trail running a little more, I changed my race entry to the 12km. A week later, the 20km. Then, just before the event I thought “what the heck!” And I changed it to the 30km. Since then, I have never looked back. The following summer (2017), I ran the Mont Blanc circuit (supported) in 9 days and the rest is history. I fell in love with the sport. I really liked the idea of doing vacations going from point A to point B, but found it was challenging to find tour companies that did this. In the end, I stumbled across the Racing Madagascar race and signed us up for the summer of 2018. Determined to find more events like this (hoping for non-races, just ‘running trips’), I came across the Global Limits Cambodia race so I signed us up for that one (December 2018) – again supported. Since it was my 50th birthday the following year, I thought it would be cool to do a multi-day event that was 50km a day for 5 days (Burgos 2019). Little by little, I just wanted to challenge myself more and more. I love the sport and feel so invigorated when I compete in these events. Trail running itself is so satisfying because you are outside and in nature, which are two of my favorite things.

What were the toughest races you’ve ever been to?

In March 2019, I was convinced to do a traditional 160km ultra in Guadeloupe and it was by far the hardest race/event that I have ever done. We (my husband and I ran it together) started at night and entered into the jungle straight away (and in full darkness). The terrain was way beyond my capability – so incredibly technical and had super steep cliffs to climb both up and down, not to mention the knee deep mud that we were engorged in for kilometers upon kilometers. After 60km, it had been 16 hours (I must say, though, even the leaders were averaging 3km/hr for a 40km section of the race) and I just couldn’t do it anymore. The aid stations had no water and it just wasn’t fun. I mean, during any event you have moments of it ‘not being fun’, but this was different. It was way beyond my ability, the support wasn’t there, and I just had had enough. Sometimes during races, I get a feeling of intense fear or anxiety. During that race, that feeling just would not go away. The lesson I learned was – if a race provides extraordinary time limits – there is probably a reason. I should have researched the course a little more, but because of my previous (albeit very limited) experience, I just assumed they were just being kind and generous with their timings. I can laugh about it now, but in the moment, it was a really hard decision to quit, but I didn’t want to risk injury or even worse – I didn’t want to start disliking the sport that I am so passionate about.

We can imagine that ultra means difficult moments during the races. How do you manage to overpass them?

One of the things I like about the multiday events is that the full distance is broken down into ‘manageable’ chunks. When I think about some of the times I was faced with difficult moments, that is exactly how I got through them – bite size chunks. My husband once said to me “You can eat an elephant, one bite at a time.” And to this day, I have never forgotten those words. One of the most challenging stage days we experienced was during the Cambodia multi-day ultra on the 60km stage (my longest stage to date) – it was over 40 deg heat, no wind, no clouds, just intense heat and humidity. We broke the last 30km into 1km bites. We would run 250m and then we “were allowed” to walk for 750m. Kilometer by kilometer we made our way to the finish line using this method. It was so amazing to cross the finish line that day!

From all the endurance experiences you’ve had so far, why multi-stage? What makes these kinds of races so special?

There are so many things I love about the multistage race. I love the challenge of pushing myself physically; I love seeing and exploring new places – but seeing the authentic parts of countries – the parts that tourists often don’t get to see or experience; Seeing a place by foot you get a much better sense of the place. I love meeting other like-minded people from all over the world who often times become some of your closest friends. And lastly, I absolutely love and feel so fortunate that my husband and I do these events together. Honestly, Mike is much faster than me and so he sacrifices his speed so that we can participate together. He says that he would blow up if I wasn’t there to slow him down, which I know is not true so the fact that he is willing to run with me means the world to me. I am so incredibly fortunate to have my best friend, soul mate and partner in life to experience (and suffer!!) through all these amazing events.

If you are to choose between 200 miles multi-stage and 200 miles non-stop what’s it gonna be?

Hands down, I would choose a multi stage event. I love the fact that they are still considered ultras with lots of running (although this being my first self-supported one, the “lots of running” statement may need to be modified!) but with breaks in the middle. I really love the bonds you make with the other people doing the stage races. I don’t think you would experience that with a nonstop race because you do the race and then the event is over. Some of my best friends are people who I have met in these events just in the past couple of years.

I do enjoy doing the nonstop ultras – but the longer distance ones scare me. The time limits are often tight, and the terrain is often more grueling than the multi-day events. My husband, Mike, loves the nonstop ultras so I am trying to follow in his footsteps. I have done numerous 50km races (in fact, my favorite distance) and did attempt one 160km, but was unsuccessful. It is definitely on my bucket list, but who knows when that will happen. I tend to fill my vacation time with the stage races!

What’s the mileage you often put into preparing a multi-stage race?

I am a firm believer in cross training, so I probably don’t put in as many kilometres running as many ultramarathon athletes, but on average I run between 90-110km/week (spread over 5 days). I also cycle (trainer or on the road) 2x/week, strength train 3x/week and practice yoga 3x/week. I am a huge believer in meditation and often practice it immediately following my runs, which I believe helps me recover from all the miles I do put in. Most importantly, I take Mondays off completely … well, okay I will make sure I get 10,000 steps in, but other than that, it is my recovery day and I believe this is one of the reasons why I have been able to run long distances for over 35 years and be relatively injury free.

Have you had a moment during a race when you were about to quit? What was your motivation to continue?

Absolutely. I think in all races there are times that we want to stop – or we wonder “Why the heck (paraphrased of course) am I doing this?” But remembering the feeling I get at the end of a challenge, the end of a goal, the end of a race, is such an incredible feeling, that it keeps me going. Remembering that most times (barring injury), it is mind over matter, and we can control our mind… if we believe in ourselves. One of my greatest strengths (according to my biggest fan (hubbie)), is my persistence, my drive. I will just keep on pushing and pushing and pushing until I get to the end. Don’t get me wrong, on a couple of occasions, I was beaten, and I did quit, but I vow to not get myself in those situations again. With each challenge, I become stronger mentally to overcome the feelings of doubt and giving up is just not an option.

Why Ultra Race Romania? What do you think sets this race apart from others?

To be honest, originally, I found the Ultrabug Romania race, but it just didn’t seem long enough. I wanted to have a race that was 5-6 days in length and ideally in August. I have always wanted to go to Romania and have heard amazing things about the country. Prior to signing up for it, I really couldn’t say what set it apart from other races other than location, time of year and the fact that in these COVID times, we could travel to Romania, but since the first email I sent inquiring about the race, I have found the support to be incredible. Andrei is so personable and amazing at promptly responding to my thousands of questions. I was also very impressed with the fact that although Mike and I hadn’t yet officially registered, he treated us as though we had. He even sent the race patches to us early so that we had them in time for our departure. That level of trust and support is very special and really makes me, as a competitor, feel at ease that each person doing the race is special and that we will be taken care of. It makes me feel like I am part of the URR family. I am so glad I chose this race as my first self-supported one and so happy that I am going to be a part of the Ultra Race Romania Team.