Transylvanian Bear Steeplechase Shorts

I mentioned last week that I quickly made a pair of bear shorts to wear in time for the Transylvanian Bear Race at the weekend, and I can share the full details now that I’ve run the race!

I’d bought a few fat quarters of Spoonflower’s Sport Lycra base fabric a few months ago, but recently I realised that combining two fat quarters would soooo not be enough fabric for a pair of shorts. So I frantically ordered another full yard of the “geometric grizzly bear” print fabric to be the body of a Biker length pair of my Steeplechase Leggings pattern, with the fat quarter of the mint green “geometric bear” print bear fabric being enough for the shorts yoke.

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To my surprise and delight, I saw during checkout that Spoonflower’s new Berlin printing facility is finally operational! This means you can choose to have your order come from either North Carolina or Berlin. This is massive for those of us in Europe, as it not only means cheaper and significantly faster shipping (I ordered on 15 May and it arrived on the 27th), but also no customs fees!! In the UK, anything over £15 (approx $20) in value (which includes the shipping price, cruelly!) can be stopped and have not only customs charges, but also 20% VAT and a hefty handling fee wacked on top, which often more than doubles the price of the fabric. But that’s all over now – $6 to ship 1 yard of Sport Lycra from Berlin to the UK, and it arrived in about 2 weeks!

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The fabric arrived on the Friday before the long weekend (when I’m normally not at my office job), so I actually used the parcel as an excuse to run the 12km up to my office and pick up the parcel!

It may seem like 6 days (with a long weekend thrown in) should be plenty of time to sew up a pair of shorts I’d made a million times before, but actually the timeline was quite tight:

  1. Friday: Collect parcel and pre-wash fabric
  2. Saturday: Sew the shorts
  3. Sunday: Wear the shorts on a test run
  4. Monday: Wash the shorts
  5. Wednesday: Pack my suitcase
  6. Thursday: Fly to Transylvania

Bear shortsThe shorts after Sunday’s test run

Even though I only had a fat quarter of the mint green bears to play with, I still managed to make a bear match up over the Centre Front seam almost perfectly, which delighted me to no end!

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I’d mentioned way back with my first test swatch of Spoonflower’s fabric that it’s got a good amount of stretch in both directions (unlike their Performance Pique and Performance Knit fabrics), good recovery, and feels pretty good on the run. The only downside is that there’s a lot of white showthrough when the fabric is stretched, which you can see when I’m wearing them (as compared to my top, which is true black). The only real alternative would be to make the shorts looser in the leg, which I didn’t want to do in a race situation! But it’s something to be aware of when ordering darker prints.

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I won’t go into the race specifics here as I like to keep this on-topic as a sewing blog, but this race was both the hardest race I’ve ever done as well as the most rewarding. The Transylvanian Bear Race “marathon” course was incredibly tough, at over 47km with over 500m (1890ft) of climbing, narrow muddy paths, extreme heat in the open meadows, and a few run-ins with professional sheep dogs. My time of 6hr22min(!!) may not look like much (it’s nearly 3hrs over my road marathon PB!), but I finished as 2nd lady so I wasn’t doing too badly! More importantly, I got the adventure I was craving and learned that my post-transplant body can bounce back after even the hardest of setbacks.

2016-06-04 12.39.57At the 3rd checkpoint, at 31km, with the sign pointing to Sighisoara, the race finish!

But even moreso, the Transylvanian forests were just exquisite – I ran for long stretches in complete solitude where I could turn fully around and not see any evidence of humans apart from the path I was following. It is a truly magical place, and I’d urge you to visit if you ever get the chance.

2016-06-04 15.29.31At the finish, after over 6 hours of running in my Steeplechase shorts!! No inseams = no inner thigh chafing!

If you’d like to read my full race report and see more photos (including some incredibly funny selfies!), head over to my RiverRunner.co.uk site!

And yes, before you ask, I’m feeling surprisingly fine, much better than I do after road marathons where I’m only running for 3.5hrs! No blisters, only 2 small chafing spots, and only a little achey!

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