Marathon course - Apuseni Marathon msg systems
Real length: 43,7 km
Altitude gain: + 2.557 m
Configuration: sections 1,2,3 and 4
Hydration Post (PH), only one: at ''Colțu Rotund'', 5,7 km from the Start
Refreshment Posts (PA): 6, out of which 1 at the Arrival and another 5 on the course. Competitors will pass through PA 3 twice.
Control Posts (PC): 7 (seven)
Start/Arrival: Skiland boarding house, altitude 1390 m
Legend: PH – Hydration Post, PA – Refreshment POst, PC – Control Post
Course characteristics: The course of this edition is situated in the same area as the previous editions, between Muntele Băișorii mountain resort in Cluj county and the mountain villages of Săgagea and Belioara in Alba county. We would like to specify that on many maps the village of Belioara appears as ''Poșaga de Sus'', the name of the commune with the townhall in Belioara, a commune name that does not exist anymore! Most accomodation will be available in the Muntele Băișorii mountain resort that hosts most of the boarding houses. Our base camp will be set there as well, more exactly at the Skiland boarding house, together with the Start/Finish points, the festivities and the party area.
To those participating in our event for the first time, we advise you to make a first impression of those places by accessing the foto gallery on our website.
We remind you that at the 2015 edition we made some changes: Fortunate changes (road repairs, fallen trees cleared from tourist trails, the attenuation of the ''wounds'' caused by fire in autumn in the Scărița Mountain), unfortunate changes (high floods, forest exploitations), as well as our desire to offer something new to those competing during the last years, compelled us to modify the course compared to previous editions.
The changes are the following:
Section 1, the (marathon & half marathon) course that surrounded Buscat peak will pass on top of it, where PC 1 will be placed.
Section 3 changes its running direction. Therefore, at PA 3 & PA 5, ''La Rascruce”(At the crossroad) the course will not intersect anymore. Instead, it will barely meet both posts, and viewed from the top, it will presen the shape of an hourglass.
Consequently, the more technical area of ''La Stanci'' (At the rocks) will be downclimbed. It is the section where a fixed rope was installed during previous editions and where it will continue to be found - maybe even a cable. The descent obliges the competitor to be VERY CAUTIOUS and to reduce the speed, in order to descend safely. We all want, as well as you do, to safely make it to the Finish and some of you on the podium, nobody in the hospital!
Once the descent ''La stanci'' ends, a climb starts towards right, leading us to the picturesque Bilii Hill, where you will descend to Belioara valley, at PC5, downstream to PC 4 – Izvorul Belioarei.
From PA 4 the course climbs to the right, on the dry, scree filled Rastoaca valley, keeps turning right towards the beautiful heights of Bradatel where the 2013 and 2014 course was going downhill.
From the Cornu Pietrei meadow, the course turns left by climbing through the forrest towards the heights where ''Sesu Craiului'' can be found, part of the renowned geo-botanical Scarita-Belioara reservation that you will traverse.
There are few springs on the course, we will rehabilitate them and write about them later on. Laboratory analysis made before previous editions have indicated every time the presence of drinking water. Therefore, as some of you have already done during previous editions, you can use them, on your own responsibility, should the official PH and PA posts where you can find bottled water won`t be enough for you.
The course is composed of four sections, the first and the fourth are shared by the marathon and half marathon. The altitude gain is + 2.557m. This edition the course will take the shape of an hourglass, the loop towards Belioara will be smaller, and the middle of the hourglass will be found at ''La Răscruce'', at 21,1 km from the start, the place where sections 2 and 3 meet, approximattely mid course. Sections 3 and 4 meet there as well. At ''La Răscruce'' competitors will meet from both directions. The faster ones who will descend from ''Scărița'' Reservation, on their way to start section 4 will meet the runners in the middle of the ''marathon squad'' from the opposite direction, who will have just finished section 3, exiting the bushes at Fântâna Popii. For the latter, section 3 will follow, in descent, towards La Măteoaie and La Stânci.
Section 1: After the start, competitors run for 1 km, uphill, on the main road leading to Muntele Mare and the saddle La Plopiș. From La Plopiș, the course leaves the main road and turns forward-right. Volunteers will show the direction and signalling ribbons will indicate the route. For the next 2,2 km the course surrounds to the right the Buscat peak on narrow forrest trails, passing by Izvorul Gabrienii, where runners will be able to quench their thirst. Next, in the first meadow (Buhuia) the course leaves the trail by suddenly turning left, taking runners 200 m through grass and no trails (it is a mountain marathon!). It then continues on a road that takes runners to the right on the Buscat peak 1676m, next to the terminus point of the cable car. Here runners will find the first check post, PC1 Buscat. From here the course descends on the opposite side, on the slope, reaching the parking lots from Sesu Cald, used in winter time by skiers. Runners will next join the main road, easily identified by its electric pillars. This road continues in a gentle climb untill Colțu Rotund, where one hydration post is set, at 5,7 km from the start and 5,7 km away from the first refreshment post, PA1.
From this point the course turns left on a narrow road until its maximum altitude: 1709 m ''Sub Pietrele Mărunte'' where PC2 can be found. It descends to the left of a narrow trail and enters the forrest. At the crossroad with another (''mid-forrest'') road, the course turns left, passes through the meadow Stăuina Runcanilor and descends to the saddle La Crucea Crencii, situated on the border of Cluj and Alba counties.
Here, next to a sawmill, runners will be shown the direction of the course by a volunteer and signs indicating right, through the grass and a grass road traversing two springs (the source of Tisa valley – called Apa Rătăcită (Wondering Water), name inspired by the windings of the spring downstream). The course continues left, on the grass road, and after 11,4 km from the Start, it reaches the refreshment post PA-1 Bocșești, between the ''parish huts'' bearing the same name.
From this point on, half marathonners will turn left and continue for 6,5 km more until the next refreshment post, PA-6. Once the courses split, half marathonners will run for 1,2 km descending on a narrow road taking them to La Știolne, where they will join the fastest marathonners and will follow the marathon course until the Finish.
Section 2: Marathonners will run for 5,7 km more until refreshment post PA-2. From this point the course continues forward, on a gentle 1,7 km descent on the forest road, through the forest, then the signage will indicate towards left, a secondary road leading outside the forrest. In the first saddle, the course leaves Dealul Țicului and turns right towards the first houses of the picturesque village of Săgagea, whose inhabitants, during the 50`, have suffered physical and psychological consequences for helping the local anti-communist partisans (Leon Șușman ''gang''). At the intersection of the small village roads, volunteers and signs will show the way. Not far from the beautiful meadow where the two small churches can be found (Orthodox to the right, Roman-Catholic to the left), a small house appears. The course passes it by to the right, and reaches control point PC-3 Săgagea, placed at the intersection of the narrow village roads and the confluence of the two valleys. Runners find themselves here at 802 m altitude. From PC 3 Sagagea, the course turns left on the narrow village road that joins Valea Mărginită (at the first junction keep right!) and after an extra 700 m, it reaches refreshment post PA-2 Săgagea, next to a beautifull village house. Until the next refreshment post there are 4 km more and 462 m positive altitude gain.
The course continues upstream, on the small village road that joins Valea Mărginită, keeping to the right the hill called Runcu Porcului. After 200m, where a road descends right from the houses situated on the top of the hill, the valley is traversed on a footbridge or by jumping over the stream. The valley road is abandonned and the course continues to the right, on a narrow road. After 1 km from leaving Valea Mărginită, the course turns left uphill, next to a spring with troughs, on a road leading to a few summertime houses where a cross can be seen. The place is called Dealul Răfăileștilor and hosts control post PC-4. Turn right from here through a hay field, then take a narrow trail climbing obliquely into a typical Apuseni scenery. Somewhere, the narrow trail turns left, and continues on a short corridor through the forest. It then leads on the top of the hill, rich in tall grass and juniper tree. The course turns left on the top of the hill, on a discrete trail, and slowly reaches to the right the skirts of the beech forest where it will soon enter. Here the trail is clear, it passes by a rehabilitated spring for the thirsty ones – Fântâna popii – and after the next 900 m, it exits the forest and the bushes right at La Răscruce, where refreshment post PA-3 is. The course measures 21,1 km at this point, almost half of the marathon race. It is the place where runners will pass through again, where marathonners in the middle of the ''running squad'' will feel gealous, for the best competitors will meet them here comming from the opposite direction, heading towards Româneasa. The first marathonners will have already passed the plateau of the reservation ''Scarita Belioara''. The next refreshment post PA is 8,5 km downhill. The time limit set by the organizers for reaching this post is 4 hours. Runners who do not make this post in time will be either directed or escorted, after resting, on the shortest route towards the Finish line.
Section 3: From PA-3 ''La Răscruce'', the course turns right and enters a great beech forest, interrupted by three meadows. The trail is clear, in the forest clear tourist indicators, red dot and red cross mark the way and in the meadows the course is signaled by ribbons. In the middle of the first meadow – La Măteoaie – the signalling ribbons indicate the course turns left, passing by a spring that those who participated in previous editions will maybe remember, since the course was climbing this way. After the third meadow, runners will find warning signs: La Stânci follows, an area that needs to be downclimbed, slowly and with much care, with the help of the ropes installed by the organizers. Of course, mountain rescuers will be there, as well as volunteers from the Red Cross to assist in case of accidents. But it is better to count on ourselves rather than to count on others!
Once the course reaches the hay field, it turns right and climbs through the grass, for 400 m, without a trail (it is a mountain marathon!). Next, guiding ribbons will become visible, and the course turns left on a contour line, on the slope from Belioara valley of the Dealu Billi heights, situated not far away to the right. That scenery is typical for the motto & logo of Marathon Apuseni msg systems: ''Wanderers through the past''. After 300 m, the course follows a steep descent to the left, between the stables of the local people called ''mocani'', keeping on the left hand side the impressive steepness of Scărița Mountain, and in front, beyond the valley, the reddish stones called Colțul lui Balmoș. Control post PC-5 is situated right where the road meets Belioara valley (left affluent of Poșaga valley). Here the altitude is 682 m, the lowest of the course, even lower than the previous lower level, Săgagea. The course turns left on the road, climbing gently for an extra 1,3 km until refreshment post PA-4, situated at Izvorul Belioarei, at 734 m altitude.
Those who decide not to continue the race anymore, can stop and from here they will be taken back to the Muntele Băișorii resort with the organizer's vehicles, making a 70 km detour through Poșaga, along the Arieș valley, through Iara and Băișoara.
Those who choose to continue, turn right on the touristic trail marked with a red point RP, in a gentle climb for 800 m on the stony dry valley of Răstoaca. At a signalling pillar, the course climbs to the right on a beautifull trail, through a grove, exiting in the hay-pasture of Dealul Brădățel (its functions alternate every year), alike in beauty as the ones already visited: Dealul Răfăileștilor, Dealul Bilii.
To the left, marathonners will meet again with the impressive steepness of Scărița Mountain, which reminds us of the pearl of the Carpathians – Piatra Craiului; the course leads straight there, on its plateau! Coșu' Boului can be seen in the big wall, as a big cealingless grotto, similar to Coșul lui Hili from the Turzii Gorges. At a marked metalic pillar, the course turns left, climbing through old meadows which will gradually turn into a forest of beech and birch trees. Marathonners will continue running through a beech forest, reaching the saddle Cornu Pietrei, at 1084 m altitude. Beyond this point a meadow can be found, but it will not be crossed. The course descends for about 50 m, turns left and enters the forest where guided by touristic markings RP(red point), TA (blue triangle) and TR (red triangle), the runners will follow the winding meadow gaining +225 m altitude, the last more difficult ascent of the race. The forest which had been seriously affected by fire in the autumn of 2012, which prevented us for three years to direct the course this way, has somewhat ''healed'', and in time, the fallen trees on the trail have been removed.
Once reached on top of the plateau, in an open space, it is ''a must'' to look around and admire the beautiful scenery to the left: Groapa Mare, the surrounding walls, the far away hills and Dealul Brădățel that you just climbed. During good visibility conditions, especially during spring and autumn, tourists and hikers can admire from this point, in the distance, the white ribbon of Făgăraș peaks. Next, after a short passage through the right hand side forest, the course returns to the margin of the steep terrain, another area with astonishing views. The run continues to the right, through the pine forest, and soon exits into to flowery wonder of Șesul Craiului, that impressed so much the great botanist Alexandru Borza in the 20's when he studied the area, that he decided to recommend it to become a botanic reservation.
Soon after leaving the reservation, marathonners will catch a view of the destination. They will see far away to the right the challets in Muntele Băișorii resort, and, while descending, they will arrive again in the saddle La Răscruce, at refreshment post PA-5. From here, only 7,7 km are left until PA-6 and 10,9 km until the Finish line.
Section 4. After 900 m from La Răscruce, running on the pasture trail, participants reach the heights of Româneasa, that takes us to the right. It is the place where some participants during previous editions have declared that ''it took their breaths away'' or removed their fatigue. We are glad that from now on, a long and pleasant descent follows and that the scenery in front gives the participants the possibility to become, once again, ''Wanderers through the past!''. We will run between mountain ''huts'', those small houses and stables (still !) used, even if temporary, by the locals in the neighbouring villages: Lunca Largă, Runc, Ocoliș and Săgagea. The marathon and half marathon courses meet at La Știolne (a group of such ''huts''), the intersection where on previous editions a ''mocanca (villager) from Săgagea'' cheered you up and took photos of you (the locals here are called ''mocani'', not ''moți''!). From this point on, 8,5 km are left until the Arrival. Runners turn right, on a road and gentle slope that encourages accelerating the rhythm towards Valea Tisei where control point PC-6 is situated. The next PA, the last one, is 3,9 km away, and Finish is 7,1 km away. The course traverses Valea Tisei and climbs towards Zăpodie huts where on previous editions our photographers surprised you during your effort, and some of you even managed to surprise them, with your power to smile!
A short climb is left towards the heights of Dealul Boinic which will be traversed. Next, turn a little to the left, ''catching'' another road that will encourage you to take advantage of the last descent leading to valea Vadului, that you can cross on a footbridge. From here, 1,6km are left until PA-6 and 4,8 km until the Finish. Turn left on the local road in Muntele Cacovei village (placed downstream). Follow the road upstream (to the left), traverse somewhere the small river and reach, after another 400 m, PA-6, the last one. The last 3,4 km to be run until the Finish line on a gravel road that soon enters the woods. In the place where the road turns to the right, after the bridge, you will find PC-7, the last control post. Until the Finish there are ony 1,6 km to run uphill, but it is not a steep climb and... it is the last! While exiting the forest, on seeing the first vacation chalets, you will also hear the pleasant atmosphere at the Finish. After passing the foundation of a few chalets destroyed by fire that you will see on your right hand side, turn left, and after an extra 600 m - regardless of your running time and place in the results – you will victoriously pass beneath the ''triumph arch'' where FINISH is written! You will once again realise that most of all, you wanted to move outdoors, to compete against yourselves, to meet again fellow passionate friends, to make new friends and... when the fatigue passes, to be happy you were once again, ''wanderers through the past''.
The images, we, the organizers will load in the event photo albums, will help you to do what you did not manage to do during your run: to admire, little by little, those sceneries that seem to be taken out of history books.
Click here to see the traditional clothing worn by the locals from Sagagea on the day following the competition (the 50th day after Easter, Whit Sunday). Those people told us that your passage through the village, every spring, is a special event. They told it to us! These people watch you on Saturdays and admire how fast you are!
We would like to send many thanks to those who participated at previous editions of the Apuseni Marathon msg systems, and to thank you in advance for participating in this year`s edition! See you at future editions of the Apuseni Marathon msg systems, at other mountain marathons and on other mountain trails!
The course was chosen and described by Dinu and Marlene Mititeanu, not marathon runners, but friends, admirers of your performances, and fine connoisseurs of the area.