Tuesday, August 18, 2009

wednesday, august 12th:
after sprinting on my bike to the airport at five in the morning, i find out that my flight is actually on thursday.

thursday, august 13th:
sprint to the airport on my bike. head to norway.

mid august and summer would appear to be over here in norway. i check with a norweigen on the bus from bergen to stryn and he acknowledges as much. he tells me that it usually lasts two months but this year it only lasted five weeks.

after a full day of travel, i arrive at the Hotel Alexandra at the base of Skaala in the small town of loen (pop. 300... 150 of which work for hotel alexandra). still light out at 10pm so i go for an easy jog up the valley from the fjord.

friday, august 14th:
the day is spent trying to rid my legs of the sierre-zinal. massage, stretching, warm bath, sweet talking, idle threats, etc.. Jonothan Wyatt and I go for a run up the valley from the fjord. talk of competition (ie kenyans), the new track for the course and plans for the remainder of the summer.

exquisite buffet at the hotel... honestly the best i've ever had and early to bed with a face mask to keep the late night light out of my eyes (welcome to 55degrees n.).

saturday, august 15th:
i weigh my backpack to make sure that it reaches the 2.5kilo requirement. coming up short, i supplement the weight with chocolate rather than rocks and sand as i did last year. the requirement is meant to encourage safety which, on a day like today, is well heeded. from the start line (elevation 38m/110ft) you can almost see the finish line covered in snow (1848m/6063ft).

of course the race started out fast. i've only raced kenyans in european mountain races (31:30 10k doesn't quite put me up there with them on the roads in the states;) and i've found that they always start fast... i would say relatively faster than they would in a road race. being somewhat new to the sport of mtn. running, maybe they don't know what is in store for them which would seem to be the case as many of them so often come flying back just as quick.

there is little to report of the race. not from my perspective anyway. sierre zinal was still fully present in my legs. there was nothing i could do about that. i knew there was a good chance that six days would be less than adequate time for recovery for such a brutal race but i took pride in what was quite clearly a gamble... and a loss. i finished 10th overall. earning 40 points towards my grand prix standing... which didn't change anything... i was in third place and remain in third place.

there was fresh snow covering the final two k of the course. that's something to report, i suppose. the calculated grade of the ascent is 22% average. there's something else. compression socks make for great arm warmers. norweigens are a strange brew. it seems to me that they have taken 1986 apart, studied it intensely and perfected it. i'm not kidding - think mike + the mechanics, heart, nu schooz... and they can dance to it!! alright, so i was only five then... but so were they! so i digress.

sunday, august 16th:
i take full advantage of the two extra nights the hotel alexandra has given me and go for a run... yes up the valley from the fjord. it was a run that i did with jon tvedt last year at this time who has been on my mind ever since i landed in bergen. he was an incredible athlete who was never lacking in something interesting to say whether it was about which race of people he thought to be the most attractive (kenyan) and unattractive (never mind) or the running style of usain bolt (9.58!?). the news of his death in january went well beyond his norweigen borders.

tvedt's record up skaala still stands thanks, in large part, to the snow covering the final 2k of the course. though i have no doubt that it will be broken within the next couple of years what with a new and improved track leading to the summit and the large purse up for grabs (25,000kn to win and 45,000kn for the record... that's over $11,000 - making it one of the highest paying mountain races in the world).

1. Antonella Confortola Italian National Team 1.26,35
2. Iva Milesova Psk Olymp Praha 1.27,00
3. Guro Flatekval Oppsal 1.27,05
4. May Britt Buer Harding IL 1.27,50
5. Tuva Staver Toftdal Heming IL 1.31,42
6. Merete Helgheim Gloppen Friidrettslag 1.33,49
7. Therese Sjursen Bfg Fana 1.34,52
8. Norunn Stavø Florø TIF 1.38,39
9. Helene Pemmer Il Fri 1.39,00
10.Elisabeth Hildenes Eid IL 1.39,43

1. John Sombol Barakarunner 1.09,55
2. Jonathan Wyatt Salomon Austrian 1.10,00
3. David Schneider Inov-8 Switzerland 1.10,50
4. Jon Duncan Sandnes IL 1.11,07
5. Sammy Kirui Barakarunner 1.12,31
6. Joseph Gray Team USA 1.12,48
7. Øystein Sylta SK Vidar 1.13,31
8. Kristen Skjeldal Bulken IL 1.14,10
9. Sindre Buraas SK Vidar 1.14,41
10. Rickey Gates USA Team 1.14,57

wednesday, august 19th
back in geneva for one more night. tomorrow i head to chamonix for some last minute training before the world mountain running championships in campodolcino - 2.5hrs north of milan. the race is up and down this year and the american team is looking very promising. a preview of the team can be found on the us mountain running team website: www.usmrt.com



Anonymous said...

Thanks for the vivid descriptions. Keep it up!

GZ said...

itching for the WMRC report!