Monday, 30 July 2012


The scenic course along the approximately 15 km of undulating trails, lanes and the paths through the fields of grain and the wooded hills on the Austrian border with the Czech Republic where remnants of the iron curtain are still to be seen takes in no less than ten old watermills as the name of the race suggests.

My first problem was that I felt tired before the race even started. I think this tiredness was basically due to the unusually humid and thundery weather we'd been experiencing in the days leading up to the event rather than the three bottles of beer I downed in the crowded smoke filled hut where  we ate pizza with chile and were entertained by the local accordionist playing the songs of the hunter until well past my bedtime the evening before.

Or maybe tiredness was simply a build up of lactate in the leg muscles from daily miles of long distance walking, and swimming in the local rivers. Who can tell? Race day was clearly going to be a challenge.
It would be a lesson in survival in the sense of getting through the tiredness barrier. And so a useful exercise in itself.

As it happened I lined up much too near the front of the race, next to the elite, in the narrow lane where the event started. The simple reason for my folly was that I was unable to find a way to get through the crowd and into the middle of the pack. I was forced to cover the first half mile or so at a much faster pace than I would normally.

I had fortunately decided to use the race only as a first training run for a much longer race that I have in mind to run in later in the year. And so in the end I was happy to survive and to finally finish 7th of 10 in my age group in a reasonable time having regard to all the circumstances.

The 10 Watermills Race 29 July 2012
14.6km 250 m hd

1.       Franz Springer       U Rohrbach/Berg  50:18
16.     Andrea Springer    U Rohrbach/Berg   1L      1:00:05
61.    Alfred Flattinger     ASKO Luftenberg 1M60 1:06:50
180.  Gwilym Williams   Clayton H               7M60 1:22:31

230 Finishers incl. 47 ladies.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Teufelstein

The Devil's Stone
Several days ago I ran a 10 km trail with 350 meter hd in the scenic Fischbacher Alps and discovered for myself the impressive Teufelstein (or the Devil's Stone) situated on a moderately high summit plateau (1499 meters) above the mountain inn of Alpengasthof Schanz where I subsequently spent the evening in traditional musical company.

The Devil's music

I had the distinct sensation that the Teufelstein and I were, like the accordionist with his instrument I was later to meet, somehow in harmony and comfortably at ease with each other.

The Devil's flowers

The Devil's drink

In addition to my run to the Devil's Stone I also walked a couple of interesting trails in the area

Another mysterious place
It was most enjoyable. I had a devil of a time persuading myself to leave. 

Friday, 20 July 2012

Only here for the beer?

The photo was taken at the 2012 European Masters Mountain Running Championship pre-race pasta party on the Muttersberg mountain. I am in deep discussion with British team supporter and enthusiastic CAMRA man Chris B. regarding the different types of beer on offer.

We became so engrossed in our subject matter that we almost missed the last cable car of the evening to take us back down to the town of Bludenz. 

The image was downloaded (with kind permission) from the official race website. I think it captures the heady atmosphere of the international occasion.


Sunday, 15 July 2012

European Masters Mountain Running Championships

Exploring a Vorarlberg trail 
The 4th EVAA-WMRA European Master Mountain Running Championship was held on 1st July 2012 on the Muttersberg's 8.2km / 840m hd (5.1 miles / 2756 ft hd) course at Bludenz-Nüziders in Vorarlberg, Austria. 

The races were open to European men and women over the age of 35. 

I spent two days relaxing on a mountainside in a high valley and explored a couple of trails. The day before the race I moved to the town of Bludenz. 

An old injury (see post below) had now substantially repaired itself and I decided, despite a worrying lack of race fitness, to confirm my entry. I was issued with number 60.

The next thing was that a British union jack on a long stick was thrust into my hands and before I knew what was happening I found myself leading a contingent of British runners through the streets of Bludenz. 

We were taking part in a colourful flag waving parade of competitors from 17 European nations. It felt, at least to me, almost like being in the Olympics! In fact I think it was probably better than being in the Olympics for each competitor was an amateur athlete competing only for the love of the sport.

Here is the result of the Men's Race (since that is the event I was involved in):

Pos'n       Name              Category          Nation/Club            Time
1             Manfred Jauch M35       (Switzerland-Altdorf)    42:21
5             Craig Roberts  M45        (GB-Kendal AC)          43:22
134         John Blair-Fish M60      (GB-Carnethy)               58:15
191        Alan Roberts M45          (GB-Aylesbury)             64:52
222        Phil Roberts M65            (GB-Rochdale H)          71:39
228        Gwilym Williams M60   (GB-Clayton H)             73:33
251        Kevin Dillon M55           (GB-Manchester H)       84:55

255 finishers