I toed the Wildewasser Lauf start line, or more correctly I mingled loosely at the back of the small field, in the town square of Schladming, the venue of the Ski World Cup earlier in the year, at the odd time of 09:09 on a recent Sunday morning. Entry conditions stipulated that runners prone to vertigo should not take part.
Ahead of us a 14kms trail incorporating a waterfall climb and a height gain of 610 mtrs. The strange starting time was to prevent the runners being hindered by the local faithful on their way to the morning service at the nearby church.
The waterfall climb was an adventure in itself and included a 50 meter long hanging bridge over a gorge as well as numerous metal ladders fixed to the cliffs at strategic points, there normally for the hikers to ascend and descend. There were also several wooden bridges and many wooden steps to be negotiated.
And then suddenly I was out of the gorge and in space. I felt like a cork being popped out of a bottle.
There was, to me, a surprisingly short run to the finish line at the Gfölerhütte with its welcoming bowls of hot soup for the finishers and where our change of clothing awaited us.
Erroneously I thought the finish to be at the far end of the lake (in the picture below) and had consequently misjudged the pace slightly. Whether I could have overtaken the winner of my age category with a longer run-in to the finish I couldn't guess. In any event he had proven a good pacemaker for me, and I had fixed my eye on his red t-shirt from halfway onwards.
|Out of the sweaty t-shirt . . .|
Returning to the valley after the due ceremonies we were able to gently descend some 300 meters using a winding forest track to find a road and a bus stop. A local bus soon arrived, and our start numbers serving as bus tickets, we travelled in relative comfort back to the town.
|. . . and into warm clothes|
|A most scenic area . . .|
|. . . and later a rewarding Melange|
Wildewasser Lauf 14kms / 610 mtrs hd
1. R Huber 1:06:39
40. W Bauer 1:37:56 1stM60
42. G Williams 1:38:17 2ndM60