Strange, but if I ask myself where do I feel like home, the answer is not an exact spot, place or city but “in The Balkans”. Sometimes in Serbia, other times in Greece. Last autumn I was “home” in Zagreb. Perhaps the fact that I was born on the shores of The Black Sea makes the sea feel like home for me. Also in Bulgaria. People in The Balkans share their music, their cuisine, a warmness of their feelings and definitively they share the passion for running. Today the home of all masters athletes was in Bucharest.
The XXIV-th Edition of the Balkan Cross-Country Championships was held in one of the largest and most beautiful parks in Bucharest – Herastrau Park. Maybe you noticed that I just said “one of the” and not “the most” because I train myself in another park and I am in love with it so… that is the best I can do for Herastrau.
Every true for-life-athlete has in his/her competition calendar European, World and of course Balkan Championships for us Balkans athletes. Those are our milestones and the sun turns around this dates nothing been more important than be there and participate. The common fact for Romanian athletes was that any such international competition meant a long trip, accommodation, competing and then a long way back. That is why the feeling was so strange and pleasant this time to use the bus or even make your warm-up going to such a high rank competition.
Speaking about Herastrau Park, the rain carefully arranged the track one night before the race. So, it had it all: mud, the lake nearby, different kind of green and blooming flowers and of course the elite of Balkan cross-country athletes. What a delight to watch elite athletes so closely, in full action. Like world champion Eror Milan, to mention just one of them. On his last km if I wouldn’t know he was engaged in a 6km cross I would definitely be sure he is doing his 200m sprint repeats. Impressive and a true sport show!
That is why even if the number of athletes was not very large – 118 registered from 6 countries –, the competition was really tough and medals were so hard to get. That definitely was not a race like other races of Bucharest parks. Many athletes subscribed to first place for such event watched the podium wishing to be there. Maybe next time…
… I asked myself so many times how can one tell if a race was successful or not. That not from the technical point of view, but if the people liked it or not. And I have my own scale to evaluate this by how much time people will remain on site to chat even if the official schedule ended. This time they will just not leave. I saw big smiles, laughter, joy and happy people. Finally no matter of the technical results everybody was feeling like home. Here in The Balkans.