A Recap of our Bulgarian Adventures

Hello friends and family! Tyra here, with a recap of our training and adventures in Bulgaria, from 6/26 to 7/3.

Sorry about the lack of communication this past week; the wifi was essentially nonexistent until we reached Sofia. To catch you up to speed, here’s a brief look at our time in Bulgaria.

6/26 (Tuesday) – Arrival in Lyaskovets, Bulgaria

Siri and I landed in Sofia after three endless flights filled with naps and hollering children. Our flight was delayed, so just after we collected our luggage, we were joined by the juniors coming from Denmark. We met up with Bridge and Caroline in the airport, purchasing sandwiches and ice cream for dinner. While Greg, Sam, and a few of the parents obtained the rental cars, we played a few games of cards and generally caught up with one another.

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Card game throw down

It took a while for the rental car crew to return, and once they did, we had a 3.5 hour drive to Lyaskovets, where we’re staying for the duration of EYOC, in a hotel called Manastira, an old monastery. The drive was for the most part uneventful, but it was well past midnight by the time we arrived, so all the athletes went to bed promptly.

6/27 (Wednesday) – Light training

After such a late night, the morning’s plan was an early 8am breakfast, followed by a nap. The nap was great.

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Waiting for Greg to finish up accreditation. Peep David.

Training for the day was a 45 minute terrain run in the model map area for the EYOC long/relay. We split off into a few different groups, and did our run. Siri, Bridge, Turner, and I were together for most of our run. We saw some GIANT snails, with shells slightly larger than the circle you can make by pinching your thumb and index finger together, and we saw a few stray feral dogs and cats, which are incredibly prevalent in the area. Our run took us up a large hill to a radio tower sort of thing, and around large fields with some small farming structures.

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Strike a pose!

6/28 (Thursday) – EYOC Models

The morning was a blast — the sunshine was out, and we had the great idea of setting up my slackline over the pool. It turns out that slacklining is much, much more difficult over water than land. I think it’s because falling over a pool has a much larger consequence than falling over the ground.

Of course, the Bulgarian rain came back in the afternoon. Originally, we planned on going to both the sprint model and the long/relay model, but we missed the first bus because it was completely full, and we would have had to stay outside, waiting in the rain, for the next one. Greg was fed up with the organization because he didn’t want us all to stand in the wet and cold for another half hour or longer, so we went back to a covered area, and after a bit, the organizers and the other team left without us on another bus. So, we skipped the sprint model, and Greg and Sam shuttled us to the castle from the boys’ run the previous day, and we ran down the large hill to the long/relay model event.

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W O W

The EYOC athletes had the opportunity to practice with SI Air, and everyone was able to get an idea of what to expect with the Bulgarian terrain.

6/29 (Friday) – EYOC Sprint

We took two buses in the morning to the Sprint quarantine. The EYOC athletes entered quarantine, while the EYOC tour athletes walked through town to the arena. We cheered on our younger teammates as they ran down from the fortress on the hill, and then again through the finish chute from the town.

Our EYOC athletes put up some great results. In M18 with 115 athletes, David was 17th and Thomas was 48th, and in M16 with 100 athletes, Aiden and Keegan were 64th and 65th.

The sunshine was replaced by rain just after the EYOC tour athletes finished, so although we avoided most of the rain, we did have to deal with it while changing and trudging back to the car.

Turner left after his race to return back home, unfortunately missing the rest of EYOC.

The opening ceremony was held in the evening, along with the awards ceremony for the race earlier in the day. A local dance group performed a couple dances, which were interesting, but also very repetitive.

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Squad up

6/30 (Saturday) – EYOC Long

Once again, there were bus issues. There were more athletes from Manastira than spots on the bus, so Siri, Bridge, and I had to wait at the hotel for another hour an a half after the bus, and traveled to the arena with Sam. Of course, this meant that we didn’t have to be waiting outside for quite as many hours before our EYOC tour races, so we probably got the better deal.

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The long arena

The arena was extremely muddy, and by the time the EYOC tour started, there was full on rain coming down. Unfortunately, Sarah was sick, so she did not race, Siri mispunched, and Caroline and Peter did not finish. However, I thought the courses were fun and well-done. Siri and I raced head-to-head for a good portion of the race, which was a lot of fun and pushed us both to go faster.

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Post-race

7/1 (Sunday) – EYOC Relay

Finally after days and days of rain, the relay had great sunny weather! We did not have enough EYOC athletes to put out even one full team, but with the help of the Swiss, the Czech, and the Spanish teams, all healthy athletes were able to race.

The EYOC tour race was not a relay, but a mass start forked race, held after the EYOC relay had finished.

Keegan, David, and Thomas headed out early from Manastira to Sofia with Ann Marie. They stayed at the airport for several hours since they couldn’t find the hotel. You know how orienteers are with road directions.

The rest of us grabbed food, loaded up the cars, and raced to Sofia. It was nice to drive through Bulgaria in the daylight; it is such a beautiful country. It has huge hills, much like the Bay Area, but the hills are very green and forested, much like the vegetation of the Pacific Northwest, but with different trees. Other than the gorgeous, rugged hills, there were never-ending fields of sunflowers! It was neat to see so many flowers all in fields. Some of them grew up close to the road as well.

7/2 (Monday) – Tourist Day!

Much of the team started off the day with some intervals through a large park in Sofia. After that, the day was ours for exploring! Vido was kind enough to act as our tour guide, walking us around Sofia and showing us the sights.

We ate a lot of delicious Bulgarian food as well. Banitza is spectacular, and I would recommend it to everyone. Siri and I also tried tarator, and a few other foods from a Bulgarian restaurant and a Bulgarian bakery. Feta is very popular.

7/3 – Travel Day to Kesckemet, Hungary

Shortly after waking, the morning was dedicated to obtaining breakfast and packing up the remainder of our things for our flight to Budapest. We took taxis to the airport, and it was only a slightly crazy ride.

Our flight was nothing special. Bridge had a separate flight, with a short layover in the middle. She had to sprint through the airport to make her connecting flight, and although she was pretty sure she had missed it, she ended up making it!

When we landed in Budapest, we met up with Erin! We traveled to our accommodations for the rest of our Europe trip, and then headed out for a training. Erin put us to work with a sprint course at a relatively relaxed pace, followed by dynamics, strides, and stretching.

I think we’re all excited to be in Hungary now, with all of our energies focused on the upcoming races. I promise we’ll be better about blogging now that we have access to better wifi. Photos might be added to this post in the next few days. And hopefully you’ll hear an update about today soon! 😉

– Tyra

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