The Moldova wine cellar run : Re-defining the Runner’s High

Running the cellars Image courtesy:

Running is an activity that has been increasingly gaining popularity over the last few years. There are regular joggers, competitive runners, ultra marathoners as well as recreational runners. With more and more people turning to running, the number of events and marathons being conducted has also seen a spurt, and enthusiasts are opting for exotic destinations and unusual runs to challenge themselves – be it a marathon atop the great wall of china, or a grueling endurance challenge high up in the Swiss alps.

The Circova cellars beckon Image courtesy:
The Circova cellars beckon
Image courtesy:

The 10k race in Chisinau – the capital of a tiny Eastern European country called Moldova is unlike any other. Sample this : The 10k route is 100m underground, and runners navigate tunnels that could be dark in some sections. Humidity levels are pretty high, there is hardly any fresh air, and chances are you could get lost in a labyrinth of tunnels that the route takes runners through. Speakers installed at intervals blare out ‘haunted house’ sound effects in the darkness. And in case all that wouldn’t suffice, there is a person disguised as the grim reaper roaming the tunnels, ‘hunting’ runners as they make their way about the course. So, you’re running, short of breath and trying to find your way in the maze of tunnels, when you suddenly round a corner to the accompaniment of a blood curling yells and find the grim reaper waiting for you – scythe and all. Sure sounds to be a fun run!

Into the darkness Image courtesy:
Into the darkness
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Cricova in the city of Chisinau is home to one of the largest wine cellars in the world, with its storage galleries spread over 120 km of tunnels. That’s almost an entire city, underground. The cellars have roads and streets, fittingly named Champagne, Chardonnay, Sauvignon and so on. The idea to conduct a run in the cellars was mooted when a few local clubs wanted to run through this ‘underground kingdom of wine’ and the streets in the wine dungeons. The unique surroundings and the tantalizing wine fumes certainly make for a one-of-its-kind run, say participants.

'Ah, wine fumes!' Image courtesy:
‘Ah, wine fumes!’
Image courtesy:

Keeping in the spirit of the cellar, all participants were given a glass of mulled wine once they finished. The kit distributed to the runners included a respiratory mask for use while on the trail if necessary, and a bottle of Moldovian wine from the Cricova. Despite running a 10k loop,  the runners have seen only a fraction of the famed wine cellars of Molodova that today hold over a million bottles of wine. So if you’re looking for the runner’s high, this might certainly be a great place to start!

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