It is the first chance. 11k into this race I have the first glimpse of a chance. On top of the Piz Boè I’m sure that this is the finale of an incredible climb.
What started 1:45h ago in the little resort village of Canazei seems to be the end now. The entire vertical is over. I take as much coke as I can get. At 3.152 meters oxygen is rare. My mind doesn’t really need it at this time of the day. Way to cruel and steep has been the first part of this Dolomiti Skyrace.
Just a couple of hundred meters on asphalt through the town and then it was straight up. Up to the sky. As close as possible.
The course hits a ski slope. The climbing starts with proper ascending. Just a couple of minutes in the race the competition already spreads out. No real surprise with this topography. The slope does not wind. It is straight up. Not much of a twisting and turning. 1.900 meters of ascending need to be done somewhere I guess. Some people are standing along the course and shout. They have enough time to spot who’s passing them. The pace is already gradual. From the slopes we head over to some trails and up to the Passo Pordoi (2.239 m).
At the registration runners had the chance to drop poles. Since my early family holidays in south-tirol some centuries ago, I haven’t used a walking stick or poles. Scared by the youtube clips and images of the race I play it un-cool and leave some jogging-sticks with the organisers. I should have taken them straight from the start.
I grab my poles at Passo Pordoi and rush on. As I pass the Fausto-Coppi-Statue I feel driven. In terrain like this the poles are the help I really need at this point. Some Tifosis cheer us on. No one in this competition looks smooth and relaxed at this time. Unreal steepness marks the faces. I look up and what I see tells me to get the A-game out. Dig deep to go steep.
|Left to right. The twists leading up
to Forcella Pordoi Refuge (Picture: Flo Reichert)
There are certain points in competitions that outline them and give them a character. The twists up to Forcella Pordoi Refuge (2.829 m) certainly is what people in the running scene recognize. Small loose rocks, ice and snow are under my Brooks. Going up the turns you know why this course is famed for being durable and true skyrunning material.
In the last few days the snow hasn’t really melted. The summer heat of the valley did not made it up there. The organization did not have a choice. They digged a tunnel through the massive ice field. Flo already told me about the course. He checked it the day before. “Mind your head!” he said with a grin. As I hit my head in the middle of this tunnel I have to smile. Funny enough he had the same incident during his passing. The brain doesn’t certainly work to the fullest when you’re in “infight mode”.
No rocks and stones anymore. At least for a small bit. Running through snow after ascending for so long isn’t easy. Just when the running part is over the climbing part starts. Climbing in the actual sense of climbing is what you have to do here. Some ropes and just about some steps in a granite wall. Up that and on to the next. Welcome to the Dolomites. Welcome to skyracing Italian style. Prego!
Finally I stand on top of Piz Boè. The sea is just about 3,152 metres under myself.
I eat. I drink. There is no real need for me to rush at this stage. After two toilet stops with an upset stomach It took me way to long to arrive here. I look around. The Sella-Group is just too scenic, to impressive to be real. This mountain-range just defines the dolomites for me. What a view. What a day. The sky cleared of and gives me the chance to soak in the atmosphere. The raw beauty of the dolomites knows how to impress.
I head on. Straight down the mountain. Technical running at its best. Once I loose the fear of falling, I don’t fall anymore. Jumping down gaps. Running down ice fields and finally running over rocky trails to twisty single trails. What a fun downhill. I feel recovered and probably the first time in mountain running I understand how to run downhill effective and fast. I also feel that fear is the wrong ingredient for a fast downhill performance. I pass more and more runners. It feels good to let loose and lean forward. The overtaking certainly helps.
Just a bit later I arrive in back in Canazei. The last few meters on solid tarmac ground. The thighs feel incredibly bad. I don’t care. The finish line is crossed and I’m delighted. Delighted that I did not fall. Delighted that I run so well going down. Delighted by the experience.
It takes a very certain fitness to be good at races like this. The intensity of running such steep uphill’s is a special one. I haven’t figured out completely how to do it efficient and fast. I meet Florian and Tara at the finish line. We just shake the heads in disbelieve. Another great race. Totally fun. But now we need pizza. A lot of pizza.
Tune of the day: Roman Flügel – More & More & More