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!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Rax Mountain Race 2012

The road to the Rax massif

The Rax from the River Schwarza 

Artist's impression from Reichenau

 Crossing the finish line

One hundred and eleven runners from Austria, Tanzania, Slovakia, France, Switzerland, Hungary, Germany and Great Britain made their way to the 4th Rax mountain race starting from the cable car station on the banks of the River Schwarza in the picturesque valley at Hirschwang.

The 11am start time of the Rax race is in my opinion very convenient. It enables the runners to have time for a proper breakfast and also gives them time to travel to the venue. Such thoughtfulness and attention to detail is typical of the organizers of this race.

In addition to my race number my goodie bag contained a Rax t-shirt, a runners rucksack, a return ticket for the cable car and a numbered bag for my change of clothing to be taken to the top.

This Rax course has everything a mountain runner could want; a road section to the start of the mountain trail - this sorts the runners into their respective groups - followed by a woodland path with alternating steep, moderate and flat sections - providing now and then open views over meadows and into the valley - next a more rocky path - the steepish sections of which I negotiated at a brisk walk, and then finally - I had been looking forward to this for more than an hour- a full throttle finish across the plateau to the top station of the Hirschwang cable car and panorama restaurant.

3rd M60 trophy

4th Rax Mountain Race 
9km (5.6miles)  / 1100m hd+  (3610 ft)
2nd September 2012

1.  David Schneider   - Switzerland - 0:50:30 CR
7. Juma Lukondya - Tanzania - 1:02:38
19. Isabella Schmöger - ASKÖ Waldegg - 1:09:15
83. Herbert Tragauer - Unatt. - 1M60 1:28:18
85. Gustav Ulrich - Switzerland - 2M60 1:29.45
95. Gwilym Williams - Clayton GB - 3M60 1:34:44

111 finishers

I was very pleased with my run, finishing 3rd of the 5 M60's, particularly as my time was nearly 2 minutes faster than last year's. The winner's time was a new course record. The first woman was just 4 seconds shy of the women's record. Marvelous performances all round.

A big thanks to all concerned especially the organizers, the team of volunteers who manned the race registration office, the checkpoints and the path junctions, and to the race sponsors.

Attracting a quality international field for only its 4th running this race is set to become a classic.

Like a fox on the run

Not long ago I was out and about on a tough training run in the Salzkammergut mountains. Fortunately I had my camera with me (I don't always carry stuff) and when I came to the mountain inn where this cagey fox was keeping a sharp lookout I was able to obtain this lovely shot of the pair of us, courtesy of the barman,  as well as a refreshing glass of shandy. My dogged training session certainly paid off. I won 3rd prize in my next race!