Maratona dles Dolomites – July, Sunday 6th
I arrived at La Villa, Alta Badia the day before the Maratona dles Dolomites. The journey from Sweden had been already very adventurous. I went by plane to Frankfurt and from there by night train to Bruneck/Brunico. In the middle of the night someone was silently getting into the wagon were I was sleeping and was about to slip out just as silently with all my cash (half of what I expected to need for 21 days). I had somehow forgotten to think about thieves, but luckily I woke up. He made a mistake and dropped the money on the floor so he had to bend down over me to pick them up and that woke me up. I was confused and thought it was the man across that was open and I was in a sleeping sheet (in the form of a bag), so he was long since gone when I made it to the floor. After searching around the many wagons on the train at 3 in the night for a long time I went to bed. An hour later someone else came along and claimed he and others had been robbed by this man and the train stopped in Munich and we went through the whole train with the police but could not identify the thief.
When we should change train just south of the Brenner pass, I managed to forget part of my luggage at the train station (my cycling shorts etc.). After a phone call they happily the sent the bags with the next train an hour later. In Bruneck I and my travel friend Ola Qvarnström (for the Maratona and one more day after) met up with my sister, Gudrun, and her boyfriend, Peter, who had been on a long holiday throughout the alps and other parts of Swiss, Italy and France. They helped us get the bike boxes up to La Villa and the place I had booked there in advance.
The whole place was filled with cyclists going in all directions all day that day. Lovely weather (it had been very bad just a few days before). We got a whole kit of all kinds of things including a cycling shirt and water bottle at the registration. We all had a nice dinner together in Corvara.
The next day Ola and I went up very early to be at the start in time (around 7 in the morning). It was very cold and I had my winter gloves on at the start, but never needed them later and I had my big wind jacket that surely did not make me look professional ;-). In a not so wise move I had asked about starting in the first group if possible and was accepted there with start number 91! This only meant I had company with the semi-professionals starting there up to Corvara. From there on I was passed by cyclists all the way until the last pass where I finally was among people that I could cycle away from. That was a bit discouraging. If it had been on flat land, rather few of these cyclists would have managed to get away from me, but here in the mountains it becomes embarrassingly clear who is good and not (and who is used to speed recklessly down the serpentines and not; and who was fit and who was a bit too heavy (like me)) ;-).
My goal was to get in under 7 hours and that I happily did at 6.30. My friend Ola got a better result than I expected (6.59), but then he is slimmer than me. We first went up the Campolongo pass and it was pretty steep even if not so long/high and then down to Arabba and I noticed that I was not really used to these serpentines yet and had to take care. Up the Pordoi pass was rather fun and then a very cold journey down to the road going up to the Sella pass in the shadows. Then speeding down the Sella pass with ambulances all around and up on the way to Grödnerjoch. Now I was beginning to understand I could just as well slow down a bit and make sure I fully enjoyed the event even though I obviously would not get a good placement. I took of the yellow raincoat and speeded down to Corvara on nice serpentines down the Grödnerjoch pass. Up the Campolongo pass again and then a fast stretch down toward St. Lucia were many took off on a shorter circuit. Then it was time for the toughest climb of the day – up the Giau pass with 900 m elevation and average inclination of 9%. Going slowly up is one thing, but competing up such a stretch is quite another! I was in bad luck (not enough experience I suppose) and got the cramps and nearly had to stop (I saw some others who had to stop and do exercises before they could continue). I guess I probably lost around 10-15 minutes (200 places perhaps) and had to creep really slowly up (slower than I would have done if I were just cycling up there an average day for no special reason). Up the Falzarego pass I was rather tired and a bit unhappy with how it was going. Up the Valparola I got a bit happier again as some strength returned (as it usually does to me eventually) and I was also sensing the end of the race and thus concentrated on completing the race as well as I could and raced away from all around me upon returning to Corvara. I finished at place 838 (278 in my category) out of around 7500 starting. (Case in point: I had overall rating up Campolongo at 618 and up the Giau 1595. If it wasn’t for the terrible performance up the Giau pass it looks like I should have been around place 620. Another time perhaps.)
After the race I had real problems walking on my right foot and had to walk around without any shoes for a few hours. That was obviously one reason they changed to a new model at Nike, but there has not been much problems otherwise. It is in extreme conditions like this when the material you have really gets tested though. In comparison to the bloody junk they are selling at Pearl Izumi these days (their top model 2003 3d chamois are ready for the dustbin after two months of use and you can get some really nasty sores in your back with them), then I am very happy with the Nike shoes.
In the evening we again had dinner up at another place in Corvara with my sister and boyfriend. Even though we had competed we were not quite as tired as the day before after the long travel trip. The next day was supposed to be some kind of rest day for Ola and me, but that is perhaps not quite correct to describe it as.