Monday, 29 April 2013


There's a short film (just over 4 mins) which I can recommend on my TRAIL RUNNING TV link. It's dated Nov 30. It shows Pablo Vigil and Kilian Jornet running in the Colorado wilderness. There's no product placement or advertising. It's just two men running. One young. One older.

Pablo is much the nearest in age to me. And so I identify with Pablo. And also with what he says. He says running is not about winning this race and that race. It's about 'inspiration'. It's about 'passion'. It's about 'passing the torch to the next generation'. And so it is.

When I first came to live where I now live there was not another runner on the block. Now, 15 years later, there is a runner in every second or third house. When I first ran the trails in the local woods I never saw another runner. But then they started to appear. First two or three. Then more. And now many.

Like Pablo and Kilian I've also run right up to the so-called wild animals and they haven't batted an eyelid; foxes, deer, chamois, and even mountain goats I include. Sometimes I've stood so close to them that I could almost reach out and touch them.

Like Pablo and Killian and their meeting with the elks I have felt no fear. And the animals I have met have felt no fear. It was and is as Pablo says "as if we were brothers". And it really is so. Or it can be if you are lucky. It starts with the right attitude to life and the right way of being a runner.

Currently I'm injured (it's not running related) and cannot run. When I'm injured, which is rarely, I am greatly inspired by films like the one I've just seen and I can't wait to get back on the trails.

The runner's task says Pablo (as I have already mentioned) is to pass the torch to the next generation of runners.

I willingly do that also, but I must add the proviso that when I speak about running I am not speaking about pounding the pavements or the tarmac. I am speaking about running in the fresh air and the wide spaces far away from the factories and the cars.

Take the train or the bus or the bicycle or simply walk. Find a beach or a hill or a forest or a river, or a canal or a lake or any place with an out-of-town trail. And run.

Lace-up and go for it. It's basically what I do. And I recommend it to younger people. It's the best thing you can do with your life. It took me 40 years to discover it. My words can save you much time and trouble. I've now been doing it for more than 25 years. It's life. It's pure life.

And it costs almost nothing. There's no need for any fancy gear. The socks, shorts, anorak, emergency whistle, and t-shirt you already own. So it's a basically a small investment; a pair of trail shoes, €40 should do it, and you're on your way.

Enjoy it.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Bisamberg Hill Race


Bisamberg is sometimes called "the first Alp". It was a fitting place to premier a new event. It is at or near Bisamberg where the eastern end of the Alpine chain begins. 

The hill itself is a picturesque hump with many trails and paths, some quite steep, climbing through decidious woodland and forest and giving way to attractive cobbled lanes passing through vineyards and orchards on the descent down its south-east flank. 

It is situated to the north of the Danube River near Vienna. An ideal location for an early season outing. 

The weather was overcast and the temperature, in the light breeze, was about 12-15C. Good conditions for a mid-April event starting mid-afternoon. 

I opted for the 'soft' 9km race; it goes about 3/4ths of the way up the hill, unlike the 12km which goes to the top.

I had been reading about Kenyan runners and thought, like them, I'd go low-key and begin the home season with a confidence boosting performance.  

Most of the runners, several of them targeting early points in the annual Austrian mountain running cup trophy, opted for what is set to become a 12km classic.  

The race started with a lap of the running track and then followed a country lane skirting the base of the hill until the course divided: 12km race straight on and 9km race to the right. Turning right I entered woodland and began a long gradual ascent to the feeding station at the 9k 'summit'. 

The paths soon became narrower and quickly descended into meadows and then into a series of uneven cobbled lanes. I had chosen to run in a pair of gel-cushioned shoes and it was over these uneven stones that the shoes came into their own. I was able to get down the hill painlessly. 

It was then back on the running track and a full lap to the finish line where I finished almost as fresh as when I had started. 

An early-season confidence building result. The harder races will come soon enough. 

Bisamberg 9km Hill Race

1. Phil Schwarzl - URC Spk - 34:53
8. Gwilym Williams - Clayton M65 - 48:48

46 finishers

Bisamberg 12km Hill Race 

1. Norbert Busl - 49:41

167 finishers

Monday, 15 April 2013

Running in the Lainzer Nature Park

Vienna's Lainzer Tiergarten

Today's long run (3 hrs) started and finished at the Nikolai Tor and included the Laaber Tor and the Lainzer Tor with its information centre (i) where I picked up this map. The total distance was approximately 26.5 kms and included a guesstimated 850 mtrs of ascent and descent. I visited the summit 3 times. The Tiergarten is a favourite venue for runners for many reasons, one of which is the convenient absence of dogs. 

Another reason I prefer to run in the Tiergarten is that is that I can soon be there using Vienna's excellent public transport system.  The S-Bahn railway station at Hüttledorf is less than 10 minutes walk from the Nikolai Tor entrance. I make good use of my pensioners' travel ticket, which I also use to travel on the local trams, buses and the U-Bahn network.

Entrance to the Lainzer Tiergarten is free.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Pendle Hill Race

Pendle Fell Race; the famous Big End ascent. 

Just follow the flags . . . 

. . . and grin and bear it! 

It was a glorious day out. The weather was perfect. And after the race I got to see the Grand National Steeplechase on the TV in the local pub at Barley village and touch base with old friends. Like me, my Grand National selection didn't win. As for my race, I had overlooked the possibility of a long queue at the stile early on and consequently I lost a bit of ground on my opponents.

Nevertheless, now on the wrong side of 65, I was very pleased to complete the course injury-free and without undue difficulty in my first hill race of the year; a satisfactory pipe-opener for the season ahead as I believe the expression is in horse racing circles.

Pendle Hill Race 6th April 2013
4.5 miles 1500' +/-

1. R Hope - Pudsey & Bramley - 32:13
71. J Holt 1M60 Clayton Harriers - 41:17
278. G Williams 20M60 Clayton Harriers - 56:56

340 finished incl. 30M60's

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Where is the Spring?

A stork in Rust

The storks are arriving in Burgenland. They have the long journey from Africa behind them. Perhaps it is a sign that improving weather is on the way; although I have to say that tomorrow's forecast is for yet more snow.

On Monday, I went for a blast round Eisenstadt's Esterhazy Park. My session was 3 laps on mixed-terrain paths and trails and covered 9.45kms with 290 mtrs +/- of undulations.

I was delighted to complete the course in 54 minutes. Last time I ran over the same course in the park I took 53 minutes; but that was in September when the weather was much warmer.

The Austrian Alps are particularly dangerous at the moment because the snow is unstable. On Monday, the day I was in the park, at least 5 persons were swept away in 3 avalanches. Only 1 survivor reported.

Be careful out there.