Monday, September 8, 2014

The Masters Mountain running championships

 I wasn't really ready to race but was hoping that my alternative work had kept me fit enough to be competitive at the Masters Mountain champs.  Last year I had finished 11th in the 45-49 and I figured I was in about the same shape.  The field looked to be a lot stronger and they got nearly twice the entrants (900) than last year in the Czech Republic. 

 I got into Austria very late Thursday night and met up with Francis B and Richard.  We headed out on the course on Friday for a nice easy run to get a preview.  We skipped the first 1.5km loop in the town of Telfes and headed up into the mountains.

 The first half of the course was the toughest with some very long steep stretches and a couple of sketchy downhill sections of narrow single-track with lots of roots.  It would be easy to burn out in the first half and not recover for the more run-able second half which had a ton of switchbacks and a much more gentle climb.

 My 5 year age group was the last to leave Telfes as they started groups every 15 minutes.  The women and men 55 and up all had a shorter course that started 5km up the mountain.  I watched the start of the earlier races as I got in a long warm-up (5 miles).  It got a bit warm as the fog broke and skies cleared.

I got a spot on the starting line as most didn't seem intent on being up in front.  We had the largest group with nearly 100 starters.  I found myself in 20th place in the very early going through the town.  Once the climbing began I quickly moved up to the top 15.  After 3km we really started the steep climbing and I moved up as high as 7th place.  The leaders were long gone out of sight.

At 6km we looped around a small lake and I could see the leader exiting the loop as I entered (he was 3 minutes ahead of me half-way through the race).  My nearest competitor was already over a minute ahead of me.  A kilometer later the last guy I passed (Spain) passed me and took off very quickly.  I felt the tempo was as fast as I could handle and focused on maintaining it. 

As we hit the switchbacks the various age groups ahead of us were in sight.  It was kind of fun catching people but at times it was tough getting around groups of runners especially with hikers coming down the Fulmountain.  The switchbacks were a good spot to check out the competition and I could see 9th place close behind me and holding steady.  I was running out of steam over the last couple of K's but didn't want to lose any hard earned places.
At each turn I could now see a couple of guys closing and looking up I could see the finish (you could see it for the last 3km of the race and could hear the announcer as well).  I dug in and hit the last very steep pitch and onto the ski bridge for the last 50m grind to the top.

I ended up holding on to 8th place running a 1:10:51 for the 7.3 miles with 3,900' of climb.  I'm pleased with the effort, I gave all I had.  We had a good showing from the USA with a lot of the guys running well.  At the very least everyone had a lot of fun.

Kilometer splits:
2:07 (500m)
12:03 (missed a split so 2kms)
3:10 (500m)
3:27 (500m)
Full Results:
View at the halfway mark


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