Today was Day Four of the TransAlpine Run (43.9km, from Neukirchen, Austria to Prettau, Italy) and although 3km shorter than yesterday's stage, it took us just as long.
It wasn't so much the profile that was to blame for that, although it was indeed tough (we climbed from 850m to 2669m over a distance of 30km, with the final 800m in 2km, taking us well above the snow line). The best description for today's run was gutsy - in more ways than one. My stomach acted up from the time I awoke at 4:40am, I had to go to the loo twice before race start, and over the 5:19 it took us to complete today's stage, I had to take 5 pitstops. It was crazy. I swear I must've given the cows along the way serious poo'ing competition.
And even though I made sure every dash off the trail into the bushes was at top speed, we lost valuable time. And it was difficult to make up those minutes - my energy was drained, and I had to dig deeper than imaginable to press on. I was so annoyed with myself, even though there was absolutely nothing I could do about the problem, other than to make sure each pitstop was lightning fast!
Enough about those gories. The views today were spectacular. We ran up zigzags next to thundering waterfalls, along green valleys with snow capped rocky peaks towering above, and over a peak (at 2669m) where the wind was howling such a gale that the chill factor must've dropped to below zero. At that point the only way we could see the path ahead was using other runners' footprints, most of which were about 60cm deep. Add a steady drizzle to this, and the white-out you're picturing is about spot on. Fortunately that section only lasted about 10 mins.
Fortunately my energy levels picked up on that descent and we flew the last 10km (a 1000m drop) at pace, to the finish line in the hamlet of Prettau, to finish 20 minutes behind the 3rd placed mixed team. So we're now lying in 4th position in the mixed category, a radical drop from yesterday's 3rd placing.
The race is only halfway done - there're still another four days to go, and much can change. We're certainly going to do our best to make sure it does! (And a good start will be the Immodium I've taken this afternoon!)
At 29.4km, tomorrow's stage is a lot shorter than the past two have been, and we're hoping to really make it a good one. It'll be tough (I learning that in this race, there're no "easy" days), starting with an 11km climb up to 2537m.
And I'll carry the Immodium with me this time...