Romania is a nation of many unique features and incredible accomplishments. The architecture of Bucharest, the romance of the Black Sea and the never-ending pock-marking of castles make the multi-talented nation a haven for history gurus and 15th-century vampire hunters.
However, in the last 3 years there has been an added draw. With the fall of communism between 1989 and 1991 and the overthrow of the Dictator Nikolae Ceausescu, Romania has had its infrastructure rocketed faster than a Tesla rocket on re-entry. New railways, airports and roads with two words that create goosebumps on any longboarders legs: Smooth Tarmac.
According to Australian Downhill Skateboarder Mitch Thompson, the track is “easily in my top three hills I’ve ever skated.” The hill is over 6km long and even tucking it is a 9-minute run, and if you’re freeriding it, it is easily touching on 10 minutes to get down or 15 if you want to drink enough water to become a camel halfway down.
There are 12 hairpins and 10 corners with no two the same. Even after 4 days, the track will still surprise you and make you react faster than your parents walking in on you as a teenager as you blitz down the fastest section at 95km/h, or rest at the average speed of 70km/h.
With such speeds and so many corners, safety is a massive subject and this year it is going to be exceptionally well prepared. Thousands of hay bales will string all along the track, built up in all corners, drains, sketchy areas and near likely crash zones. Tyres will add to this incredible injury dampening mixture and very well-trained medics are on standby to attend to any injuries when they arise. But don’t worry about falling, just get down the hill in whatever fashion you see fit!
DEVAstation Longboard Crew are the organisers of this event, and with the 3rd instalment of Straja is a pressure higher than performing brain surgery on a head of state. Preparations and procedures have been significantly influenced by lessons learned from the last two years. The organisation has been even clearer than before, along with much more various bells and whistles in the cost of the event. One outcome of the hill’s intensity is the introduction of ‘mobile marshals.’ These marshals make their way down the hill, armed with an assortment of spares should your glove decide to explode mid-slide, your puck wins a game of hide and seek, your wheels turn into perfect ovals/squares or your bushings being tuned in a horrendous way. These marshals will also be happy to help you get down and be your guide if you’re nervous going down.
The 250 euro cost is not just for the track, but for a whole host of significant extras that set up Straja to be a shining example of value. For a start, the event has a gondola, so no waiting for the bus to slug its way down the hill or jostling for seats like it’s rush hour. It is also totally unlimited uplifts, so no limit and skate till your legs scream at you. From 9am to 1pm and 3pm until 7pm, the hill is all yours to fling yourself into like a raver into a heavy metal moshpit.
With the mention of skating, the DEVAstation Longboard Crew are making at least two wallrides and an enhanced halfpipe that’ll be stronger and better, and which won’t get soaked in beer like last year! There is also going to be a slide jam, with longest slide, silliest trick and a host of other activities bound to keep the most hardcore skater occupied. If you’re keen to race down this monster of a track, there is a DH race on the Thursday and Friday (27th-28th) to get your body and adrenaline really flowing.
If you’re a party fireball and want to spend the night leaping bounds with everyone awake at 4am, then there’s the party zone! During the day a speaker built into a Hummer permeates the gorgeous sunshine with music ranging from club right the way to the 1990s. At night, the mega sound system comes alive with DJs from across Europe (including Britain with J-Fulla & CrazyJoe) along with a light display to match the intensity of the sound system. One insane memory of last year was a thunderstorm failing to dampen the spirits of all those who raved until 7am. Coming down the morning after was a scattered array of knackered skaters and hardcore locals still at it.
The ticket includes meals for both meat eaters and vegetarians, with portion sizes to match the hills intensity. Although Romania has food prices lower than the Atlantic trench, the food at the top of the hill is stupendous. Having listened to the comments regarding the food and leaving with a full belly, lunch will be served on the day everyone is leaving either to return home or to continue EuroTours.
But perhaps the best part of this amazing event is YOU! Whether it’s coming together during a run, dancing together in the fun zone or visiting Baloo the brown bear, the event is about an incredible time in one of the most picturesque locations in eastern Europe. Give this event a shot and you’ll be finding yourself wanting more like a kid wants candy in a funfair! Happy skating!!
Youtube with Joe Baldwin & Derek Blanquer Raw Run Straja 2k17