Running race 3:45:22  21.05 km (10:42 / km) +1599m 7:46 / km
ahr:143 max:188 shoes: X-Talon 230
Dolomyths skyrace. Awesome. Tough. Dead chuffed with how it went....
I managed to get myself really quite wound up about this race. Bizarre, as there was absolutely nothing hanging on it, no easier place to ‘hide’ and nobody in the world except me would care about the outcome. Walking around town on Saturday the place was filled with young, fit, predominantly male athletes. What was an auld wifie like me doing amongst this lot? And the race cut-off times looked by no means trivial, although logic based on previous race results told me they were achievable.
So by race morning I was feeling more nervous about this than I have any other race for a good while. The 2 h cut-off by the top of the main steep climb really put the pressure on to treat it as a proper race; something I realise I’ve got quite lazy about in recent years.
As usual the first 20’ was grim. I hadn’t warmed up fully and everyone seemed to set off like a bat out of hell. My heart rate trace suggests this was just me - as I completely failed to raise it to a steady 140bpm until I was well up the hill. I needed to be at the first pass at Pordoi in around 65’ if I was to make the 2h cutoff. Thankfully it appeared soon enough, getting through in 62’. I managed a smile for J with his camera and was able to relax a bit knowing that if I held my position I should be fine for time.
The next section gets really really steep and there was a snake of ants zig-zagging all the way up to the Forcella. Head down, I followed the feet in front of me and ground it out, managing to look up a couple of times and absorb the stunning view across to Marmolada. The top of the pass was party central with enthusiastic commentary and music helping to motivate and I made it through with a comfortable 13’ to spare. Poles were banned on the next section so I cautiously handed them in to be transported back down the mountain, hoping I wouldn’t regret having relinquished them later in the race.
I had been passing plenty of people since the start of the steep climb and continued to feel strong on the rest of the climb to the summit; the last two weeks of altitude acclimatisation no doubt helping a fair bit. There was some more technical rocky running now, but nothing too challenging to anyone used to the Scottish mountains. Another 30’ and I was over the top and into the start of some great technical descent.
Previous experiences have told me that most Europeans are pants at technical descents and this was borne out once again as I found myself passing a steady stream of runners and feeling like a descending goddess flying down the mountain. The descent was broken into sections with some flatter easier sections sandwiched between bits of screen run and rocky running. I loved it and felt relaxed and good running. But it didn’t half go on a long time.
Eventually we got back to the tree line but it was still a long run back down the valley with a mix of technical paths gradually giving way to bigger tracks and ski runs. A final kilometre sign appeared and I was able to race back in to the village still feeling strong and delighted with my race time of 3:45, well inside the 4:30 max and top 50% of the ladies.
So, definitely one for the bucket list for anyone who loves a good technical mountain race with steep climbs and descents. For me it’s boosted my confidence again. You do need to put yourself out there now and again to be able to keep some self belief and this race certainly served that purpose for me.