Sunday, 16 December 2012

Indoor Marathon - Vienna









This morning, being Sunday, I caught the underground train U2 to Vienna's Exhibition Centre in order to see Vienna's first indoor marathon. It was the sheer novelty of the idea of having a 26.2 mile race indoors that induced me to go and take a look.

As you can see I took my camera.

As a trail and mountain runner the idea of an indoor course didn't particularly appeal to me and consequently I didn't participate in any of the races.

Another reason I didn't run was the prohibitive entry fee. I calculated that for the cost of entering the indoor marathon I could participate in several mountain and trail races; up to half a dozen would be possible.

The Messe Wien is a building of monster proportions in which 16 laps is 26miles.

The amplified rock music was not a comfortable experience from a spectator point of view although I can imagine that it served to push along many a tiring runner through to the finish line.

I arrived when the half marathon (8 laps) was in progress. I left 15 minutes after the full marathon started.

Someone gave me a yellow carrier bag containing a couple of sports drinks and other items and I entered a free draw to win a pair of Brooks running shoes.

Interesting morning.

Thursday, 13 December 2012


Sometimes you simply have to dig into your reserves. This is often as much a mental as a physical exercise. I think it helps if you are in a beautiful location such as this lakeside path in the Austrian Alps.
Of course it's important that you have prepared adequately for the race and have the miles in your legs.

The right diet is important too as I am now discovering. Foods I used to shun: figs, dates, black treacle, etc., are now part of my eating regime. And foods I used to partake of eagerly I have now cut by 70%-80%, especially beers and wines. Some like refined sugar, meats containing fat and deep fried foods I have eliminated altogether. After all, food is fuel. And you can't run a highly tuned benzine motor on tractor diesel. I think it's the same with the human engine. For a decent performance you require the most suitable type of fuel in your tank.

In the above 15.5km race I placed 3rd in the Over 60's category.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Sunday, 25 November 2012


Yesterday's outing was by train to the village of Puchberg-am-Schneeberg (585mtrs) which is naturally situated within sight of the Schneeberg Massif. My map shows 3 peaks: Klosterwappen (2076mtrs), Kaiserstein (2061mtrs) and Waxriegel (1888mtrs). It was to this latter that I made my way.

The vegetation changes as one wends one's way up the trail towards the mountain path. The view below is looking towards the south from the Kaltwasser Sattel area (1300mtrs).

Here, I have left the track far behind and I'm climbing a steep slope in an area known as Kuhplagge. 

On and on. I'll have walked more than 20 kms with over 1300mtrs of climbing by the time I get back to the village.

The path becomes narrower, steeper and more rocky. But the effort is worth it. The magnificent view across the Ochsenboden to the north with the Klosterwappen peak on the left and the Kaiserstein peak on the right.

Under the clouds, and 64 kms away, is the city of Vienna.

And now the final push to Waxriegel summit:

Two walkers were following behind. And when they arrived one of them kindly took this summit photo. The building below on the edge of the escarpment is the Elisabeth Kirchlein - a small church.

Having reached the summit and eaten my banana I returned to the village just as the fog was closing in and caught the train back to Vienna.

Sometimes you just have to go and find your own sun. It won't always come to you!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Half Trog

   I went there with Jon and Bruce to spectate and offer shouts of encouragement and as appropriate discouragement - but it was all in good fun.

The Half Trog Fell Race takes place on the moorland above Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire. It is called the Half Trog because it is only half as long as the Full Trog. But any distance is long when you are running over boggy tussocks.

Although it was a breezy day in mid-November and we were in a Pennine wilderness there was, unless my eyes were deceiving me, a man with an ice cream van waiting for customers in the shadow of the wind turbines atop the moorland pass; perhaps some passing cyclist would pull up and buy one.

We three of weaker flesh adjourned to the warmth and cosiness of the nearest public house, which happened to be the Robin Hood, for hot pub lunches with traditional accompaniments after our stint on the wild moors.

I took several photos of our jaunt:

We three at the trig point 

Bruce with Scilly hat and Jon

A thumbs up from Tim Black (1st)

Alan Life digs in

 Jean Brown pursued by Michael Toman 

Clayton's Pete Booth powers on (1st V60)

An ancient way marker 

It was great. My thanks to the lads; I expect we'll be back!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

A pre-winter fire

I concluded my 2012 running season with a bottom of the bell curve outing at Dunnerdale which is in the south-west corner of the Lake District National Park in Cumbria, England.

Having curtailed my training schedule after September's Asitzkogel race in Austria (2012 race season high spot) I was 4 to 5 kg heavier and consequently not race sharp at the Dunnerdale event; the race date fell towards the end of a 2 months recovery phase (albeit I had taken part in the Italian Chianti Ecomaratona 18km trail race during this period of easy-peasy semi-training).

Keep the fire going! 

The Dunnerdale Fell Race result will follow (below) in due course.

Soon I will be 65 and it goes almost without saying that a runner's 65th year is a significant way-marker in the mountain and trail running scene. It's the point, the junction of paths if you like, where the trail runner can simply turn away and fade away; perhaps to live on past glories at his local inn or club, and some do, or he or she can grin and bear the accumulating aches and pains and hobble straight on and through the late autumn of a running career.

It's obvious that the latter of these options is the right one for me; and so the rest and recovery period is now over and my enthusiasm is once again fired!

2013 can come!

And then it was, as providence would have it, that early this morning I encountered a fire salamander in his glistening black and yellow-patched suit, and with his high-stepping gait going along in a curious stop-start way over the wrinkled autumn leaves lying on the trail - both of us heading uphill and into the woods - two creatures on our way . . .

Dunnerdale Fell Race

1.    C Bell - 41:48
56.  M Walsh - 1M60 - 50:58
223.G Williams - M60 - 74:19

243 finishers

SW Lake District  

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The 2012 Chianti Trail Race

October's race of choice took place in the lush hills, woodlands, valleys, vineyards and olive groves of Chianti in Tuscany, Italy.

There were three options available. I could opt for the 42km, the18 km or the 10km distance.

I was slowly overcoming the period of tiredness caused by the back to back combination of a tough mountain race, the Asitzkogel, on the Salzburg/Tyrol border, and 43 minutes and 25 seconds of 'eyeballs out' at the Karriegel Hill in the Vienna Woods.

I had therefore chosen the 18 km event and it was fortuitous that I did in view of the hot and humid weather (28'C) which had me struggling to maintain my form after the halfway checkpoint near San Gusme`.

The initial climb from the vineyards below Villa a Sesta to the road crossing near Campi was along a ancient packhorse track through an area of woodland and scrub inhabited by wild pigs and porcupines.

This mountainous terrain suited me admirably and I found myself effortlessly overtaking many other competitors struggling up the first hill. Little did I know then that I would see the backs of most of them during the latter stages. The running shoe would then be on the other foot!

Where I hit the wall, if I dare call my minor discomfort the wall, is where the runner is in the picture above. The trail was now to be mainly through vineyards and olive groves and along endless white avenues of cypress trees under cloudless skies with the temperature rapidly climbing towards the midday maximum.

I was about 4 km from the finish when my Italian runner friend Mauro caught me and glided by with a smile. I hung on to his heels for all I was worth - used him somehow to mentally tow me up the last steep hill and then along the unforgiving final kilometer of tarmac to the finish in the town square at Castelnuovo Berardenga. I was pleased to cross the line one minute behind him and break the 2 hour barrier.

In the final analysis I was happy to be 27th of the 43 finishers in my age category (M60).

There were many runners, perhaps as many as 70 altogether, from a running club called London Frontrunners and they appeared to be in excellent spirits and enjoying the sunshine. They had flown from the UK to Pisa and then travelled by road to the venue. One runner explained to me that the Ecomaratona del Chianti was the club choice for this year's race abroad.

Recce of the first hill

21st October 2012
Chianti 18 km Trail Race
Castelnuovo Berardenga

1. Stefano Musardo - 1h 09m 17s
4. Shaun Whelan - 1h 14m 31s
557. Mauro Vendali - M50 - 1h 57m 01s
576. Gwilym Williams - M60 - 1h 58m 01s

- - - 869 finishers.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

A walk on the Soleweg

It is 42 kms (26.1 miles) in length and, having now walked the least frequented section (Steeg to Halstatt), I can say that I have now walked along all of it. 

The final couple of hundred meters of the path was closed due to a rock fall, but I had been along there before, and so I was more than happy to descend to the UNESCO World Heritage town of Halstatt using the old miners-path and not the modern rack and pinion railway as we had originally intended. It was then a short ferry ride across the narrowest part of the lake to the railway station for the return journey.

The trail follows the course of what is claimed to be the world's first pipeline, a construction comprising hundreds of hollow trees joined end to end and through which flowed a salt and water mixture sent from the ancient salt mines in the mountains above Lake Halstatt all the way down to the Traunsee Lake where the salt was extracted and loaded onto waiting vessels at Ebensee. There are many information boards along the way.

The top picture shows a bridge covered with debris from a recent rockfall. The other picture shows my companion hiding behind a waterfall. Stones, timber, water, sand and clods of earth were all tumbling and sliding down the steep mountainside. 

I would suggest the walk be split into two.  Walking from the town of Bad Ischl which is situated at the midpoint will offer the best views and be found to be most convenient. 

Day 1 - Walk from Bad Ischl to Halstatt and return by ferry/train.* 
Day 2 - Walk from Bad Ischl to Ebensee and return by train. 

*In my opinion the final 6 kms section between Steeg and Halstatt should not be attempted if less than 2 hours of daylight is remaining.

The walk may be extended to 3 days by catching a train from the suggested base at Bad Ischl to Halstatt Railway Station and from there following the trail via Obertraun to Koppental and thence up through the gorge to arrive directly in front of Bad Aussee Railway Station. From Bad Aussee catch any train in the direction of Attnang-Pucheim and alight at Bad Ischl.


Friday, 28 September 2012

Feeling on top of the world

Approaching the summit - Asitz Mountain Race 2012
    They say one picture is worth a thousand words; and for me this (above) is the one. It says all I have to say on the reasons why I run and why I run on the mountain trails and not on city roads. My thanks to JS for these.

Ready for a cuppa!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

4th. Asitzgipfel Mountain Race

This race took place on the 23rd September and there were two of us representing Clayton-Le-Moors-Harriers in Europe. I am on the left of the picture. My friend and team mate Jon S. is the other runner. 

Behind us is the finishing banner on the almost 2,000 mtrs mountain peak of the Asitz and behind and below that is the valley and the town of Leogang where the race started from. 

Jon won 2nd prize in the Men's 55-59 years category and I filled 3rd spot in the Men's 60-64 years category. Our prizes were engraved beer glasses containing the sponsor's (alcohol) free beer!  

The weather, as can be seen in the photos, was superb. After the presentation we caught the cable car down to the valley, a free taxi to the local railway station and then the train home.

M55 winners

M60 winners

4th Asitzgipfel Mountain Race, Leogang, Austria
8km, 1126 mtrs hd+

1. - B Tritscher (SC Saalfelden) - 52:39
4. - P Flunger (LSV Kitzbühel) M55 - 1:05:23
9. - P Wimmer (SC Lofer) L - 1:05:23
35. P Permoser (Team Austria) M60 - 1:11:19
48. J Sharples (Clayton) 2M55 - 1:17:17
58. G Williams (Clayton) 3M60 - 1:24:46

73 finishers

L to R - G Williams, G Nolz, K Silewinaz (all M60),  J Sharples (M55)

Sunday, 9 September 2012

48th Karriegel Trail Race

2011 Karriegel Race t-shirt

The 2012 running of the Karriegel Trail race took place this morning and was ably organized by the members of Pressbaum ASV.

Last year there was a plague of wasps and I believe that two small children were stung. This year, in complete contrast, there was not one wasp to be seen. The weather was warm and dry.

The main event was, as always, over the original 5.2 mile undulating cross country circuit which has, I'd guess, approximately 600ft of height gain.

The route takes in a variety of scenery and running surfaces: steep and narrow woodland paths, fast and wide gravel paths, shady  trails alongside meadows; and prior to the finish a stiff uphill section of road where some are reduced to a walk. It all makes for an honest and testing race.

I enjoyed the event and had the feeling that I was running faster than last year when I was placed first M60 and rewarded with a silver cup and a carrot cake, and so it proved; but despite being over a minute quicker this time, I had to be content with 4th M60 place. And I was.

I hope to be back next year; and I'm already looking forward to the 50th edition of the race in 2014.

48th Karriegel Trail Race 9th September 2012
8.3km / 200 mtrs hd (?)

1  - C Funke  - u/a - 32:47
16- S Gehnböck - Pressbaum - 1L - 35:55
37- G Hörzinger - Pukersdorf - 1M60 - 41:03
60- G Williams - Clayton H - 4M60 - 43:25

108 finishers

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Esterhazy Park, Eisenstadt

In the Austrian town of Eisenstadt, most famous for Joseph Haydn the composer who worked there for a long period of time, there is a pleasant area of parkland known as Esterhazy Park which boasts a fine running trail of 3.15 kms (1.95 miles) with a height gain of 90 mtrs (295 feet).

When I am in the area I take the opportunity to run 3 circuits; 6 miles and 900feet hd (5.85 miles with 885 feet hd for the pedant).

Time required? Around 53 minutes.

The stone bridge near the start ...

...  leads to a shaded gravel path 

ducks on the pond (after 1 km)

an obelisk marking the highest point

waymarked junctions

 the fastest section of the course

and nearly there ...

... end of the first lap!

Running parkland trails, away from traffic pollution and noise, can be a rewarding experience. 

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

A walk on the Semmering

Today the historical Semmering railway, famous for its viaducts and tunnels, is a World Heritage site.

A scenic walking trail follows the course of the railway. Yesterday I walked a 10 km section: Semmering - Wolfsbergkogel - Breitenstein.

The walk, with a companion, took 3 hours. The weather was not the best for the long views to the Rax massif as visibility was hazy but nevertheless we enjoyed the fresh mountain air and the immediate mountain scenery.

Along the way I lay in the grass to snap a beautiful peacock butterfly enjoying a meadow saffron.

When we reached the village of Breitenstein we took the local train back up to our starting point at the top of the pass and there we waited for the Railjet express back to Vienna.

It was an enjoyable and rewarding day. I even got to play with a big locomotive!