My name is Alexandra Londono Borg, more known as Sasha. I am practically a beginner in running. I began my journey as a runner in 2015 when I had first started as a solo runner and then I joined the Ladies Running Club with plans in the future to continue as a triathlete.
I began my trip to Romania last January in order to run a half marathon in the snow called Semi Marathon Gerar; the name Gerar emphasizes very cold climate conditions. The advance publicity stated that very snowy weather was probably expected for the day of the half, listing necessary gear one would need to manage in the harsh environment. However, this year we were fortunate and did not have actual snow during the race.
The Half marathon was organized by students of the Polytechnic University of Bucharest. The athletes had to run in groups of three runners, females, mixed or just males. The name of my team was “Groovy Cats” co-formed by two Romanian girls and of course me – a Colombian who is a cat lover… That’s why the name of our team.
This Half Marathon was organised as a combined effort of all the faculties of the University of Bucharest. Each faculty contributed to the race, for instance: The Faculty of Design and Arts created all the advertising and the medals, the faculty of Sports and Sciences trained many ordinary beginner and advanced runners so many students and young people could take part in the half marathon. There was not need to be a professional runner, if you were a student in the university, professional runners would train you. In the meantime the organizers searched for sponsors and verily they found large companies such as Telekom Romania, Buff, and Nike amongst others to sponsor the race. Many famous brands of running clothing were there to promote so at the entrance of the race we had a big sale and race souvenirs, so if you wanted to get a pair of socks, shoes and scarfs you had the possibility. I was really impressed by the organization and the facilities the students and the university offered to the athletes. The classrooms of the university were used as lockers and changing rooms and they had safe storage where athletes placed their belongings while racing.
This race was a completely local effort, it was not an international race like Bucharest International Marathon and for that it was very impressive how University students had managed to create such a big and wonderful event.
We run the half marathon distance throughout the campus by running it 6 laps in total. For some that may sound boring but believe me the university had huge spaces and roads where we could run without any chance of feeling monotony, we had so many distractions with the animators along the route. They had set up tables offering many refreshing and hydrating fruits, chocolates, energy bars, energy drinks and water. Many students were volunteering in the race, not only by taking part in but by assisting and cheering all the athletes with banners and speakers shouting ‘bravo! Bravo! Haide, haide” which in Romanian means “keep going, keep going”.
At the finish line they took pictures to be given as magnets from the finish line. However, I didn’t get my magnet I didn’t have luck.
Overall, it was an amazing experience for me although I haven’t been a runner for many years, but running outside of my usual environment in another country with different weather and people made it so cool and unforgettable for me. Although it didn’t snow on the day of the race the temperature was around -4 Celcius, and we had to get the proper gear for the weather. Here in Malta even on “cold” days athletes can still run without a jacket.
I highly recommend this Half Marathon, although it is not a professional one like official races, it’s well organised and a nice experience for those who enjoy small and priceless moments far from home.
There are many things to be told about this race, this is just a short brief of my experience in Semi Marathon Gerar 2016 in Bucharest Romania. Hope you have enjoyed my short and ‘cool -4C’ experience.