Three days done & dusted of the TransAlpine Run for Team Salomon / Velocity Sports Lab. Five days to go..! 116km km in the bag, and just 189.6km to go! (ok, it's far too early to be looking at how many km's to go - bite size chunks, bite size chunks...)
Apologies for this being my first blog since race start - today's the first day we've had connectivity :-(
So, three days of TransAlps and I already have a new respect for mountains. With each day of this race the mountains we slog up get higher and more dramatic, and the scenery ever more beautiful.
By the way, I'm afraid I won't be posting any pics to accompany the next several blog posts - I won't have any. I'm relying completely on peripheral vision for appreciation of this incredible scenery, and only occasionally do I sneak a peek at what's around us. We're in waaay too much of a hurry to look around!
My second challenge of today (my first having run 47.3km at pace up and down some frightening mountains) is to try and squeeze three days of unbelievable trail running into a quick blog before I fall asleep into the keyboard.
Day One (36.3km from Ruhpolding, Germany to St Ulrich, Austria) went really well. The first 10km followed a jeep track on a gentle ascent alongside a river, and we set a cracking pace. The rest of the route was a mixture of non-technical single track, some nasty grass slopes (ever tried running UP a ski run?) and a lot of deep, slimy, squelchy mud. We finished in 2nd position in the mixed category in 3:20 - really happy with a podium finish!
Day Two (33.2 km from St Ulrich to Kitzbuhel, Austria) and involved a LOT of climbing. The profile was scary - or so I thought until I experienced today's profile. The route was more technical than Day 1, and involved two v-e-r-y nasty, long ascents that climbed for seemingly ever. We finished Day Two in 4th place in the mixed, and in 3rd position in the mixed overall, just by about 4 mins.
Day Three (47.3km from Kitzbuhel to Neukirchen, still in Austria) was nothing short of frightening. I knew from the profile to expect that, and it didn't disappoint. Today was the longest stage, but by just 3km. I had to dig deep today like I've never dug before. The ascents were long, and the descents sheer - my legs kept telling my brain they should hold back and save themselves for the next 5 days ahead, but my brain refused to listen - I knew we had to fly down those downs as fast as my legs could carry me, because the next mixed team was hot on our heels. The finish couldn't come quicker - another 5km and I think they would've caught us. We finished today's stage in 5:20, in 3rd position in the mixed, and still in 3rd place overall in our category. It's tight though, very tight - the next mixed team is just 40 secs behind us overall. And they're still looking strong...
So far I've learned that I'm pretty damn useless at running through snow, slushing through sludge, skipping over tree roots, and running down hills at sub-4min km's. Ryan is, of course, brilliant at all of the above. And very patient!
Ryan is a powerhouse - I have HUGE respect for this man we all know is a running phenomenon. We're working brilliantly as a team - he's permanently strong and pulls me along... literally. We're using a tow rope / bungy cord - whenever we come to a hill, he hooks me in and I'm pulled (gently) along behind. The idea of using a bungy cord was something I initially resisted - that's just not how things are done. But our adventure racing friends enlightened us - Tats & Cas, you,d be so impressed with us! This is team work like I've never experienced: towing slows Ryan down a bit, and speeds me up a bit, so that we as a team make faster progress. The ultimate in team work. (Our other mixed competitors are using a bungy too, while many other alpine runners prefer the advantage of ski poles. For us, the bungy works better!)
Tomorrow's stage (43.9km, from Neukirchen to Prettau, Italy) will be slightly shorter than today's but tough - we'll be slogging up to 2669m above sea level. Let's hope our time spent up the Sani Pass helped!
So that's my wrap up for today. I hope we have better luck with connectivity as the week progresses, so I can keep you in on the race gories!
Now it's feet-up-the-wall time!