Seven undergoround kings

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There is such a country in Eastern Europe, such a small and quite unknown to many – called Moldova. Moldova? Did you mean to Maldives? No? So maybe Malta? Again, no? And what is this Moldova famous for?

Moldova is a great country with a rich history, fine traditions and delicious cuisine. Moldova also has unique underground cellars, in which people decided to store wine. And this country doesn’t have one or two such cellars, but much, much more. And now we will focus on the wine cellars of Cricova – a whole underground city.

In these cellars, the natural limestone helps maintaining a constant temperature of 12-14 degrees and humidity of 97-98% – the optimal conditions for aging fine wines of higher quality category, which are exquisite in Cricova – very elegant, very tasty and quite self-sufficient, according to various sources, which the tastings always confirm.

And who does not know about the famous Cricova Cellars? Collection of Cricova cellars contains more than a million bottles, and cellars themselves (despite the long trips) are mainly closed, as there still are working on the extraction of building stone. This territory is huge. And this is our tourist attraction.

Two years ago, during one of the cellars tours with partners I thought: why not run here? Within half a year my friends and I first ran across the cellars. And now we have decided to make this unique race accessible to everyone. So, please give a good welcome to the Winerun!

This time we decided to do everything seriously – medals, backpacks, T-shirts, track layout, food, volunteers, site, registration, photos, awards. In short, a real sports event. Now, Cricova Cellars will be associated not only with wine, but also with sports.

How did we organize the route in the cellars?

To gather 10 km below ground, we spent long time to convince our partners to allow using for the race tunnels at a depth of 100 meters, where coquina is mined.

The problem is that there is a lot of lime suspension in the air, darkness and narrow corridors. As a result, we have “won” two tunnels, marked them with ribbons, lit them and placed volunteers along the route.

We had to do a lot of work with the map: GPS does not work below ground, so we have developed our own technology drawing underground maps using laser ranging, IPhone with a compass, watch with altimeter and a bicycle. The result is the most accurate for today wine cellars area of the map.

We will supplement it with other corridors the following year.

Price issue

As it turned out, the most difficult in the entire organization was not counting tracks, where GPS does not work, but to answer the question – why the price for a foreigner is several times higher, than for Moldovans?

Dear friends, the underground race Wine Run will always be expensive in our portfolio for several reasons. Firstly, there is a limit of participants. Secondly, the organization and the logistics are more complicated than the usual race. Third, our first and main task is to promote amateur sports in Moldova, and, taking into account all these factors, as well as the fact that salaries in Moldova are 10 times lower, we can not assign the same price for all participants. This is how such a price difference is formed when it comes to the participation fee, otherwise the Moldovan athletes will not be able to participate, and this already is certainly unfair. Thank you for understanding. Welcome the Moldova!

In total, 200 runners participated in the event. The race participants came from 10 countries: USA, Brazil, Czech Republic, Finland, Ukraine, Romania, Russia, and even Angola.

Starter pack

Since the event is a serious, and surely not the cheapest one, we have thoroughly worked on the starter pack.

It included a quality running shirt with the symbol of the race, backpack, a bottle of wine from the partner, invitation for a free pasta party and, of course, a unique medal in the style of our competitions.

Pasta party

In the evening before the race, we held a party involving the intake of high-carb pasta and low-carb non-alcoholic beer.

Everyone became ​​friends, shared their plans for the race and happily went home to rest

And we had a regular meeting of the volunteers.

Race Day.

And then came the day of the race. Having got the starter packs, we (about 200 people) were loaded into buses that took us to the underground gate of Cricova Cellars.

A cheerful warm-up, muscles heating, awesome mood and the weather – the universe is really benevolent to us ????

Traditionally, our races are closed by death Dji, which helps the last runners – because no one wants to face death in a dark cellar ????

As usually, I decided to take Mishka with me, to impregnate him with the competition spirit and light in his small heart love for the sport.

A cheerful warm-up before the start, music, everyone’s excited, the mood is – woohoo! My kid is running around with other boys. I caught him and say: – Mishgan, you have to wait for me at the finish line, and don’t run away. – All right, Dad.

This time, I have a plan to get into the top five. I have a great form – large running amounts for preparing for Komrades make themselves felt! I am rubbing my hands – right now, I’ll let the heat out…

So we lined up in front of the gates, Fedrych opened a bottle of champagne – BA BOOM, and away we go!


We start by splashes of champagne, and then I realize that I am holding Mishka’s hand. He happily smiles at me, and I see that I can’t just leave him here. We are overtaken by the fast runners. I am thinking on reaching 200 meters, leave the son with the volunteers and then to rush towards! Mishgan runs not quickly, but in a sure pace. We are beginning to be overtaken by the slower runners…

Here are the volunteers at the entrance to the grotto, where the dark begins and it’s quite scary. I am looking at the kid – he loves it! How can I stop him here, how can I break the run of a young cheetah, how can I slow down the little locomotive, how can I keep aside the little Indiana Jones? No way…

But what about my record? I understand that I have no choice.

– Dad, are we running together?
– Of course, son – dad smiled, watching as the last runner is hobbling in front.
– And I will be given a medal too?
– Of course, you’re a runner after all!

And we ran. The pace was not high, but stable – about 6:30 per km. It was getting darker and darker.

— Dad, daddy, are there monsters? — asked Misha, looking into the dark corridor.
— From where in dark dungeon monsters? Here are just werewolfs and vampires.

I see that he pressed his head into his shoulders and slightly slowed down. Well, my son is I already an adult (his words), we can experience his strength of character. Dad smiles and quietly turns off the flashlight.

– Oh, why did it get so dark?
– Damn, flashlight broke … What shall we do?
– Let’s run farther, only hold my hand tight.
– May be we should go back?
– No, they will not give the medal, if we will!

Well done, we run on. Further comes he twilight, even I started feeling uncomfortable. Mishutka leans to me and keeps turning his head. He does not know, what is waiting for him in a few minutes.

This surprise we have prepared for the underground runners. A powerful speaker, hidden in the depths of the dark tunnel, was screaming with an inhuman voice.

So we ran to this terrible place. Mishka’s eyes were like two saucer plates.

– Dad, who’s yelling?!!

– Ghouls are torturing someone, – I say with an indifferent expression on my face …

– Paaapa… I’m scared…
– Shall we go back?
– No, I want to get a medal.
– Then add the gas!

And we ran with all the might! After about five minutes of fast running, we ran out into the light, to the volunteers. The watch shows that we ran 3.5 km. The kid is breathing heavily, but smiling from ear to ear.

– Cool, did we run away from the Ghouls!
– Yeah, like Supermen. Wait for me here, have some rest, drink ​​some water, and I’ll take you on the way back. He nods and smiles …

So now I have to really rush, because I am running the last, which is quite… not right… Ten minutes later I started overcoming people, ran into the street, turned around, gave a hug to the drunk strayed mid-level manager, took the scythe from the Death, returned it to the volunteers, ate bread at Romany, and came back to Misha.

He was giving high-five’s to everyone, running past. When he saw me, started jumping:
– Dad, run faster, or they will run out of the medals!

And we ran! We even overcame a couple of older marathoners, which made Mishka extremely happy.
On the track we were met by cheering and support groups, as well as musicians, performing Gypsy motifs and popular Moldovan songs.

Volunteers are shouting: – Go! Go! Clap their hands, hoot, congratulate Mishgan, his eyes are shining with happiness, he shouts back at them. Even though the pain in his side and an obvious discomfort after 5 kilometers, he gives out his one hundred percent!

And here comes the finish – we ran into the live corridor, everyone’s clapping, flashes of cameras, microphones, and we cross the finish line …

We are given medals, wrapped in foil, and taken to the tables with refreshments. Hot teas, mulled wine, biscuits, fruits, nuts.

My Superman is happy – the fourth medal after all, ad just like the one that Dad has… It is obvious that this little man has a strong fight spirit!

Funky atmosphere at the finish line – people in mirror capes are taking photos, drinking wine, congratulating each other and supporting the finishers.

Tour and tasting.

After changing clothes, we went on a tour around the Cricova Cellars with the subsequent wine tasting. We took an English speaking guide, because the vast majority of “tasters” were foreigners. They were vividly discussing the event, congratulating us and taking photos with barrels. It’s amazing – the first time in our, Moldovan competition, each fifth participant was from other country.

On the wonderful electric automobiles, we again went down to the basement, and we were told in detail about the wine production stages, about the underground city, the technology of sparkling wines preparation, the unique collection of Goering’s wine, Putin cell, tasting hall of Gagarin and many more.

Then there was the wine tasting, which along with 5 collectible wines offered Moldovan national dishes.

How pleasant it feels – our dreams come true: foreigners are starting to come for sporting events to Moldova. They get to know the country, the people, the culture. They leave the money here in hotels, travel agencies, shops, restaurants. They see that Moldova is not the destruction, theft and poverty, but a small, poor but generous and hospitable republic. They tell about our country to their friends on blogs, media (BBC reportage). And I’m sure that in a few years the flow will increase by hundreds of times, and our Chisinau Marathon will gather thousands of runners from around the world!

Many thanks

We thank for the assistance in the organization and gifts provision to the Wine Run Partners: the extreme equipment shop, drinking water OM, Fidesco supermarket chain, sports club Sportpark, Oliva restaurant, the company Riedel, sportswear store Puma and Alir Company. Special thanks to the trademark Cricova and the leadership of the winery for the provision cellars.

Of course, we express gratitude to our volunteers, who helped us creating this race today. Each volunteer got diplomas with gratitude from You are the most positive and kind hearted people in Moldova!

Mentioned projects:
Chisinau Marathon Wine Run Sporter
Freedivers’ paradise. Y-40

Freedivers’ paradise. Y-40

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