At the weekend I was back racing on the mountains for the first time since the disappointment of the World Championships. The race was in Bergen, the one in Germany and not the one in Norway. It’s a really nice area right on the northern edge of the Alps where the flat land of Bavaria goes straight in to steep mountains as far as you can see. It’s actually the first part of the Alps I ever visited about 10 years ago on a cycling holiday with my family.
So the race is one of the last big races of the season and it usually gets a very good field. It’s easy to see why so many runners do it as it’s such a nice mountain to run up and the event is friendly and well organised. The route is quite short at 8.9km with 1070m ascent so although it’s tough the pain seems to be over quickly then you’re enjoying the view and cake at the top. The rac starts on the road for 1km then you run most of the rest of the race on a nice single track which gets quite steep.
This year the usual fast guys were there with Petro Mamo, Jono Wyatt, David Schneider, Robert Krupicka and many more including the best German runners as it was a national championship. The start seemed fast for a mountain race so I was happy to sit back in about 6th place until we left the road and started the main ascent. It was tempting to go faster and be up at the front but I have learned this isn’t a good idea when you don’t know the race course. After a few minutes of climbing the field had already thinned out with two Eritreans at the front, including Petro Mamo, then David Schneider in front of me and Jono just behind. Once the path got steep I kept close behind David then we caught the slower of the Eritrean runners to get in to 2nd and 3rd place. From here the race was really enjoyable with a nice forest trail at just the perfect gradient. We were running at a hard pace but I could just keep up with David. Once we climbed out of the forest I could see the top of the mountain but it still seemed a long way up, we had only climbed half way!
The next part of the race got tougher and David was trying get ahead of me before the end, Jono was also about 15 seconds behind so there was a chance he could catch up before the finish. I knew the race was quite short and when I started really feeling tired I knew it could only be ten more minutes to the top which is not much. David managed to open up a small gap with 1.5km to go and I was starting to get tired but by this stage the finish line didn’t seem so far so I didn’t look back and made sure I ran every step. The last 1km seemed to be over very quickly then I was over the line in 3rd place, 17 seconds behind David and about 20 seconds in front of Jono. Petro had won the race by a long way but that was no surprise! He is almost unbeatable in these races. At the top the views were amazing with no clouds in the sky all across the mountains to the south. It was hot even at the top of the mountain, unlike some of my recent races where it’s been close to snowing!
It’s always very satisfying to finish on the podium in any race and especially against such a good field. Before the race I was worried that my good form was over for the year and that I was exhausted after a long season. That was why I thought the world championships went badly. This race made up for that and showed me that sometimes you just have a bad run but it doesn’t mean your season is over. It was a big confidence boost and helped round off the season with a strong result. Hopefully my legs have got some more good running in them with one more event to do this season, next weekend.
Top 10 men at Hochfelln
The next race is the Tour de Tirol in Austria which involves three days of racing; a 10k road race on Friday, a marathon with 2000m ascent on Saturday then a 23km trail race with 1200m ascent on the Sunday. Most people do all three events and the final position is the combined time for all three. It could be one of the toughest races I’ve ever done but it’s good to end the season with something a bit extreme. After that I will have some easier weeks to recover.