TAR stages 1 and 2
Alright, here we go.
I'm currently lying in my bed in the Hostel close to St Anton am Arlberg. We had to walk here. Not from home of course but from the finish line. 2.7km. Tim and I were needing a we walk!
Stage 1 39km
Getting to the start in Oberstdorf was a bit of an ultramarathon in itself. A story of 2:30am alarm calls, lost bag in Munich (see Haiku post), found bag in Munich (see other Haiku post), campsite, pasta, bus trip (Anya and Fiona), walk to the start line with bags (2.5km, nae bus running that early on a Saturday). Then we could start!
It was a roaster of a day. Couldn't tell you exact temperature but certainly high 20's. A real buzz at the start and many miles of runners grouped together before it opened up. For the first 2 days there is a Run2 event that allows a wee taster so that means bigger crowds for those days.
Absolute spectacular views reward some really tough climbs that go on and on, twisting and turning up the mountainside. One bloke had his dog with him. Hardy bugger he is (the dog), panting his way over 25 miles and 3000m of ascent in heat, with his coat on!
I have no pictures of the views, they're all in my mind. Anya has some snaps that I'll add. I find it hard to stop properly unless it's to eat or sort clothing etc. There was one beautifully sketchy section that involved not looking over to the left side (big drop, likesay). It's ok really though because apparently the worst that can happen is you fall.
As the day wore on fatigue started to set in. Only 2 aid stations on this route which made it much harder
Every climb was definitely a walk and the definition of "climb" kind of expanded to include slight inclinations. With about 5km to go Tim and I were in danger of being overtaken by a bloke our for a stroll in the hills. Nae gear or nothin. The last 3km took us fairly quickly down into the town of Lech and the finish line.
Anya and Fiona came in a later with, thankfully, big smiles on their faces and that feeling of utter satisfaction at what you've just accomplished. Taking into account the injury-hampered training over recent months and the uncertainty of even reaching the start line, it's no mean feat.
Stage 2 28km
Fresher in the memory.
Thankfully the temperature was cooler than yesterday and the start time was shifted to 7am instead of 8am to allow for dodgy weather later in the day. Turned out to be a good shout.
We headed out of Lech and onto a winding single track trail stretching all the way up for 5km. Flippin heck, tough climb and all single file with little opportunity for passing people until you get higher up. This stage had 3 aid stations and was a shorter distance overall which made a huge difference. In saying that, it was still really tough. After the first climb there was a good long descent over some nice trail and rocky paths.
Then we climbed up again, for about another 5km. Jeezo.
We passed some coos who rang there bells enthusiastically. Actually we passed a lot of coos, frequently. Even had to walk amongst them at one point. They just thought we were weird. We heard and saw a couple of Marmottes. Little fuzz balls squealing on the side of the mountains. We ate melon, soup, cake and crackers at aid stations. We drank water and coke.
We climbed that second big climb, dropped down a little, climbed a bit again then haired it down to the bottom!
Before hairing it, Tim and I put our poles away (it would be really tough doing this without poles) so we had our arms free and we took off. Pretty quickly we started catching and passing teams as the route led us onto a cracking single track that I could imagine heading down on the mountain bike. We got into a good rythm, sailing past a good few teams. It was a long descent, though going on for about 30-40mins. Hopefully we don't pay for that tomorrow!
Anyways, the race finished in the centre of St Anton which was buzzing with TAR shenanigans.
Again, Anya and Fiona arrived with big smiles and the sun heating up the day good and proper. We'll lap that up just now as tomorrow's forecast is rain.
Pizza, beer, shower and a lie down.
Pasty party later and then a good night's sleep as we have to run tomorrow!
P.S. I haven't posted any times or placings. It's really not about that. We're all here for the experience. However if you want to check it out and get another perspective on the event, click on the link below. Tim Darlow and Rory Campbell are team bib 53, Fiona Shepherd and Anya Campbell are team bib 62.
I also have a Strava account that has the course details, or you can find them on the website.