Last weekend I was unable to get to the Yorkshire 3-Peaks Mountain Race and so I devised a challenge of my own. With the aid of a useful 1:50,000 map I plotted a footpath and trail route from the Danubian town of Melk (as in Umberto Eco's 'Name of the Rose') to the amusingly named town of Spitz.
The run went over the highest mountain in the area, the Jauerling, at about 3,100'. Total ascent/descent was in the region of 4,000 - 4,500'. Distance? 20 miles as near as makes no difference. I set off at 1.30 pm.
The chosen way led through small villages, deep gorges, along narrow zigzags up and down the sides of valleys, across wide plains and along a variety of surfaces ranging from tarmac country lanes to woodland trails to gravel footpaths and green tracks across fields where there duly appeared a local farmer on a tractor at the very moment (twice it was) when I needed a little assistance with route finding.
The weather was fine, about 20°C and sunny, and so I took care to wear some suitable headgear as protection against the sun's rays. For food I took along a packet of nuts & raisins. The whole business took just over 4 hours. I carried a bottle of water which I replenished with orangeade at the summit of the Jauerling where there is a small cafe´ which was open. It was 5 pm and I was the only customer.
With care I descended a leaf-strewn rocky path marked with red arrows that is used for the annual Jauerling Berglauf (Jauerling Mountain Race). And after half an hour or so I jogged down the road, a broad grin of satisfaction on my face, into the sunny town of Spitz.
After this most enjoyable run I called at The White Horse Inn, back near the starting point, and sitting outside in the golden lamplight of the terrace enjoyed an enormous bowl of meat and veg soup, an ice cream and a beer. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.
The 3-Peaks? I wasn't bothered by the fact that I wasn't there. I did what I could in the situation I was in. And, for me, that's always good enough. As the old saying goes: Make the best of it!