Wednesday, 26 September 2007

After 16 days looks like the German 6 Foot Track Marathon

Three start times 6:30, 7:00 and our 7;15. Start was an unwelcome shock, up 400 metres to our highest point (1,300 m) meaning it was freezing cold and also that i was left alone as, unlike the others, i had no intention of running uphill. Once at the top very steep downhills followed by very skinny, slippery tracks following waterfalls. Thankfully my love of running downhill meant i got to catch up and pass many of the earlier runners. This went on for almost 30ks and then a hiccup, some local clown had turned some arrows around !, a number of us lost 5 minutes. By the next checkpoint i had caught Trond & Hiroko (being paced by JB), sadly was run off my legs by Trond to finish second in 5:57:43 to his 5:41:40 overall i was 4th in 141:25:05 Hiroko 124:40:33 Trond 132:44:15 Jörge 139:29:11 Note figures are correct but blog completed after long celebration dinner :-)
Edit 27/9
Hope everyone enjoyed the blog, some of those early posts were a bit ordinary simply due to exhaustion (and my mind does work strangely when exhausted !!!).
In terms of blogs also worth reading this one of Russell Secker (funny thing is back in the mid nineties i may well have met him as he works for Hoovers - part of Dun & Bradstreet - and he was saying he was in the Sydney office back in the days i worked there, either way i do recall his name as a "cc" on many memos)

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

The hills are alive with the sound of runners

Anyone who has ever seen the movie "Sound of Music" would have a fair idea of the scenery experienced today, steep mountain meadows, picturesque farm chalets and cattle wearing cowbells set against pine forests (after all yesterday we did run through "The Black Forest"). Lovely in theory but in reality damned cold. Bit of rain about when the 6:30 group left so decided to risk wearing bike shorts (considering the rather tender chafing problems the last few days rain would not be good !). Our 7AM group was up to 8 with 5 day runners. Two wrong turns (firstly by Trond and then by Hiroko) meant we wasted 10 minutes getting out of town (i suppose if i had been leading we would still be running around St Georgen). A bit of road and then steep downhill bikepaths meant again i was stuck in the no mans land of third. Passed early race leader Jürge before the 2nd aid station, a shadow of his former self through injuries but still gutsing it out to finish (and barring total disaster he will still finish in front of me 3rd overall). From then on steadily passed the earlier runners but the energy wasted just keeping warm meant running up the hills just wasn't an option so Trond was steadily getting away.

Monday, 24 September 2007

As race Mondays go i guess this was a better one.

Had an interesting nights sleep, early on i could feel my legs blowing up and then later (after raising them) going down. It was a real out of body experience and i was worried what the morning would bring. Sleep in today with 6:30 and 7:30 starts as only 57kms. Had the same group of five so again it was Hiroko and Trond dashing ahead with me stuck in the middle (not a great start either pretty much straight downhill). Pretty much a trail (and bike trail run) the first 23ks and i had a feeling i could spend the whole day last. Just before the 32k checkpoint finally caught up with some of the earlier runners (could not run uphill and really had to put the brakes on downhill). At the 49k checkpoint was surprised to find the figure i'd been chasing was Trond so of course adrenaline kicked in and finished 2nd in 6:33:
04 behind Hiroko's 6:18:39. Mayoral reception at the St Georgen Rathaus and then all you can eat Chinese, short distance tomorrow (51.7 K) but mainly steep ups and downs so i'll be taking it very easy (hopefully a more relaxing sleep tonight!)

Sunday, 23 September 2007

One day a rooster next a feather duster.

The 7AM group today consisted of only 5 runners (us 3 from yesterday and 2 day runners) that worried me a bit. My fears were well founded as Hiroko & Trond streaked away and the day runners fell back leaving me alone in the middle (never a particulary fast starter as i use the first 10k's to warm the muscles). This was fine the first 15k's but then my navigational "skills?" kicked in. Managed to misread a rightfacing as left and spent the next few minutes heading that way until i found a distinct intersection with no markings, i then thought i must have headed left a road early (there were two very close), was thankful i turned back as the other 2 runners had now turned up and pointed to the arrow on the other side of the road (which i hadn't seen!) at least all i'd wasted was 15 minutes. Aid station at the 1,000K mark (23k's) meant i'd gone approx 15k's with nothing other than water, at least now i had the chance to discard jacket and beanie and remove gloves. Into the large city of Herrenberg via bikepath (even had a chat - in English - with a cyclist) and finally passed one of the 6AM group, from then on regularly picked up runners but towards the end my right hamstring was "gone", almost thankful for the uphills toward the end as it meant i could stretch the muscle the other way. Horb Am Neckar being Ingo's hometown meant we got a rousing welcome just before the end with a brass band and a carnival (and i could not resist a delicious slice of cake). Finished, virtually lame, in 6:49 well behind Hiroko's 6:10 but still good enough for 3rd today (and more importantly slipping into 4th overall). Was in very ordinary shape when i finished (not helped by distances between aid stations either being too long or too short). Possibly dehydrated was given a litre of water and another of alcohol free beer (seriously it's a sportsdrink here!) to consume. Just back from my massage and i know tomorrow will be slow, as my right leg is as fixed as possible but still very "proppy" - shades of Trans Gaule.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

At last a real stage win

Thankfully being Saturday we had a few one day runners meaning our 7AM group consisted of 6 (Hiroko, Trond and i as well as 3 of them). Felt strange with the main group leaving as though my family was being taken away. Read 50 pages of my book as well as bit of a chat with others (after all we were the english speakers), but was still my typical nervy self pre race. Was strange leaving in daylight and was happy to leave Trond bowling along in front. By the second checkpoint had caught up with a couple of the earlier group which was a big boost. By checkpoint 3 (27ks) it was off with coat and gloves and time to put the "race face" on. The last couple of days i'd been going the "splash & dash" option at aid stations rather than my earlier "5 minute picnic" option and today, being shorter distance wise, knew i'd have to improve it even further to have a chance of a win. Around 40ks i finally caught sight of Trond (Hiroko had not been that well last night and this morning but is too strong a competitor to put out of calculations either). At the 44.2 km checkpoint i arrived a few seconds after Trond and was happy to let him leave first, waiting for a hill to surge and pass. After that spent way too much time on a winding road with sweeping curves that i swear the locals were using to test their high performance locally made cars. Finally hit the last aid station and decided to go for broke for the last 7.2k's to Mannenheim eventually winning in 6:15:30 (with Trond 15 minutes adrift and Hiroko a further 18 behind), absolutely rapt but also knowing i'd be taking it much easier tomorrow as after all the main aim is to make it to the end and my best possible finish is 4th overall (assuming all remaining 21 finish). So don't expect a podium finish tomorrow.

Friday, 21 September 2007

First past the post again (but only first male)

After yesterdays performance i was finally running with some confidence (and those who know me realise that me with confidence is a helluva better runner). Was happy to lead the 6AM group out (7AM being only the leaders Hiroko and Trond), not a barrel of laughs as we took the l1025 out into the dark (no streetlights only oncoming cars lighting the way) towards Krautheim. Was 4 degrees there (reckon it had warmed up in those first 5K's) as we kept on going into heavy traffic. From then on it was more picturesque roads shrouded in fog, 30k's saw me finally remove the beanie and after some steep climbs through lovely orchards finally took the coat off at 37.8 k's. Was feeling strong (and sights like soaring eagles were making me feel good), so refusing to look behind me i pushed up a gear. Lovely shaded roads with gentle ups and downs were ideal for me at my cockiest. At 48.7 km hit my favourite checkpoint, the one with hot food and dessert, had a good feed and powered on. Bike path took us to big town where AUDI is made and main thing was to not get killed in traffic (on a lighter note at least one runner had a feed at the McDonalds drive through). Temperature was now showing as 25, and from then on it was good bike paths, must have been running as well as i thought as no sign of Hiroko (or the recovering Rosemary who every day ran the first 3 checkpoints and then rode her pushbike the rest of the way). Make it first past the post again (although my cries of "Aussie Aussie Aussie" again leaves the locals confused). Early day means time to wash clothes and even to sightsee (well i did see - and enjoy - the Biberach Ðoner Kebap shop for lunch) as well as an early massage. Ultimately Hiroko did get in within the hour (thus relegating me to second), but still very happy as appear to finally running myself into decent shape. Unfortunately have no choice but a 7am start tomorrow (can only hope my mind games have some effect against the other 2 but i doubt it). Days highlight was the eagles soaring but a couple of jet fighters with sonic boom was also memorable. Day in figures for 72.7 km stage was 7:38 with Hiroko 7:18:38 and Trond 3rd in 8:04:31 with 22 still capable of finishing.

My moment of glory (if first past the post counts for anything)

Today was the day i was not looking forward to, the last really long stage (85.9K's). Started with the 6AM group again though originally allocated 7AM, and found another icy morning awaiting us. Quickly found myself in the leading group of 3 and this continued for the next 18K's. From then on me and Hans continued our game of "ultra distance chess" (a game he'd beaten me at comprehensively so far), he'd be just ahead and i was always a little behind meeting often at aid stations. Today he was having ankle problems though. As i'd become almost resigned to, Hiroko caught up at checkpoint 4 (38K's) and typically i spent the next 10K's her just behind Hans just in front. Come the 48k station and we all ate and left in the same order. Had a few problems navigating around roadworks (we had to cut across a paddock when we saw she had the right trail). From then on plenty of lovely bike paths, Hiroko soon left us in her wake, as we continued our battle. From 58k's we had a long 12k's to the next aid station. Finally passed Hans and then went on, for what seemed forever, to finally reach the 70k (spent much time going through apple orchards and spent much time hoping a group of pickers would be an aid station). From then on it was steep ups and downs and finally down through forest roads to the end. Was surprised to see JB out running the other way, he was looking for Hiroko who must have missed a turn in the last 5K's. What this meant was i was first past the post, receiving much unwarranted adulation from the local media and local schoolkids (just what is my autograph worth here?). The real winner was Hiroko, followed by Trond with me third in 10:55:30 enough to move me to 6th overall. Still having back problems but body in best shape so far.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Am i back in the Aussie bush?

Woke up to a freezing, still morning, just like a morning at Wagga Wagga or Coonabarabran marathons. Legs were great after last nights massage but i thought it safest to start in my warm woolen beanie. Second of our group for a longtime and then at checkpoint 4(43 km) Hiroko caught up with me. Typically was spurred on to lead her for the next 10k's and in the process catch the leader at that next aid station. Was quite happy to leave them in front and pretty much cruise the rest of the way in. Finally removed the jacket after 60K's and last aid station was Astheim a lovely winegrowing area reminding me of France (we even had a tasting of the local produce there). Ran in with one of our crew and in 9.5 hours was finished. Tonight it's massage on that incredibly tight hamstring. Just as a footnote we now have a new overall leader Hiroko

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Wet and cold

Lying here in the sleeping bag in the German version of a "one horse town" Unteresfeld just happy to be warm and dry for the first time today. Rained often last night and i arose suspecting the worst, thankfully on closer inspection the heaviest "rain" was actually the flowing of a nearby stream. We started at 6:15 as this was not an area with streetlights (as well as 3 7AM starters Jörge, Hiroko & Trond). Wet, cold and miserable sums up my first few hours, with the rain i was wearing bike shorts and i'd taken the risk and put on my lighter Nike Air Zooms. Seemed to be heading forever up and down to Coburg (and no sign of Sydney Road). I spent most of my time 2nd or 3rd and am sure i wouid have enjoyed more if drier as it was truly postcard scenery. Eventually the rain did stop and i found the bike shorts were making a mess of my quads so put on the running shorts at 46Ks (after being passed by Trond & Hiroko). From then on it was a case of just getting there which did in around 8.5 hours. Hope to get the quads massaged tonight but first it's a visit from the Burgermeister. Funny the affect of running i have put on 3Kgs so far at this rate i'll need a new set of fat clothes for the flight back.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Maybe i just don't do Mondays ?

Another Monday and for 57k's a shocker. Was asked to start at 7 but convinced Ingo that the nervous energy i would waste in that hour would cost me at least 1/2 an hour so started with the majority at 6. Didn't have a great deal of fun leading us out as the minimal lighting made the arrows hard to spot. Was happy to settle into 2nd then 3rd place out of town. Was 17 degrees by the first checkpoint so took the green jacket off. Seemed a bit flat (possibly just the thought of almost 80ks was enough after 2 shorter days). Progressively warmer as i worked my way through many ups and downs. After 45k's 7AM starter Hiroko caught up with me, that finally spurred me on as we ran together to the 48K checkpoint. After that she disappeared into the distance and i was back to struggling. Was passed easily by Trond (another 7 starter) and by the 57km checkpoint was joined by race leader Jorg and my regular sparring partner Frank. They all left well before as i spent at least 10 minutes there changing into Striders singlet and lighter camelbak in an attempt to salvage a vaguely decent run. Typically race mongrel me was spurred on by seeing Frank struggle in front of me and i finally found that extra gear i'd been lacking all day. Hit the massive town of Ilmenau and was rapt to see the aid station celebrating our half way point (603K's). From then on a run through the forest (with picture postcard views of our destination town of Manebach), as well as beating the rain in (lots of black clouds the last hour). A little over 10 hours, should be enough to entrench me in 7th overall. A few back niggles so will have a massage after dinner, hopefully a much better nights sleep (last night struggled to sleep for the first time - now i know we have lots of snorers!). Tomorrow is relatively short but apparently lots of real mountains!.

70K's with a trail run in the middle

Forecast was for warmer fine weather, but still very cold at 6. No skins socks today (primary use was to keep the calf tight and doubted that with my speed now that was an issue), but was back in the windproof rain jacket. Happily it was quiet on the roads with many ups and downs as we ran out of the valley and was in second place of our group. At the second aid station removed my jacket and beanie as the sun was shining brightly. 30K's in we hit bush trails and a steady upwards climb reduced me to a walk and it was just like being back home. Aid station at top and then a lovely downhill to 40 and back to roads. Wind farms nearby so expected breeze and sure got it a damned headwind. Was passed by 7AM starters Hiroko and Jorge, and followed him all the way to the end. Smaller town with brass band and bratwurst and beer tent outside our hall. Highlight for me was flock of white swans in the river as we ran last part along bike path. Results wise was around 8:20.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Almost a rest day

Not often i will call a 66.9K run a rest but after the last few days this looked comparatively easy. I'd woken up fine after last nights worries (after last nights blog a cold shower and a shave seemed to me i had a bit of heatstroke). With a forecast of rain later carried the "green jacket" but put on my thermal top as was cooler. With the first 5 leaving at 7 no one really wanted to lead so i was stuck with navigating us out of town (a worrying prospect to people who know my navigational ability). In the distance wind farms so knew a windy day awaited. Hard work with much wind against us, but being Saturday roads were quiet early. Interesting sight was a group of cars parked nowhere, saw later it was a group of hunters (of what i dont know) with their dogs. Kept on running to what was virtually a pyramid made of mining tailings and the road was getting busier. Then onto a rough track & cobblestoned roads to slow us down. At 51k could see it wouldnt rain so left jacket and beanie (which after yesterday i replaced with Legionairres cap) at aid station as well removing gloves. From then on it was a group of 5 jockeying for position (including 2 7AM starters and Trans Gaule organiser JB who unfortunately hadnt finished a stage since his 50th birthday on day 3. Saw the town of Eisleben for a long way (it even has a massive Dreamworld type park), and again finish was other side of town. Crossed the line Trond (7AM starter and member of the English speaking group along with Frenchman JB, Japanese lady Hiroko and English Texan Russell and his crew Diana) in 7:52:29 for 6th place. My sort of day with early finish, time for cappucino & cake and then lunch with JB, Hiroko & Trond (sweet & sour pork washed down with Chzecoslavakian Budweiser) as well as finally a chance to wash and dry clothes. Anyway now it's leg massage time.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Finally sun

A short post as am exhausted and need sleep. We did have to walk the 500 metres to breakfast but worth it as finally cereal. Change of gear to ASICS DS trainers as i was a little sore after Humaras no tongue sock style had rubbed a little (otherwise great shoes). After 18 k's sun come out and unbelievably handed jacket in at aid station (at a guess most Europeans must reckon i was born in it - reckon i singlehandedly ruined any sponsorship deal with Mountain Designs :-)) . Next 30k's was mainly good bike paths but i could see our invaluable aid station people were getting to know me when station 3 had "Start me up" playing. Again the top 5 started at 7 and was passed by first male and then just before 46 by Hiroki. The picnic was then over 5k's of unrunnable stones. Lost rhythm walking and struggled on another busy road, took a 500 metre wrong turn
(confused by roadworks). Rapt to see last aid station (& 250ml's of local brew). From then on good bikepaths into town of Steinbech. Long run across town to finish which i did in just under 9.5 hours. Two serves of pasta bolognese should see me through tomorrow (66ks). No official results up yet but i need sleep more only know 29 of the original 4 0 can go all the way.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Another day another 80 odd K's

After yesterdays effort i can honestly say i was almost looking forward to a "short" 81.8 km run into Jerichow (i must be nuts!). Had a few problems last night, after my medical check had to sit down and needed to lie down for an hour typical me but it must be hell for race directors (probably explains my off the wall post which i sent off as soon as i found i had 3G access unedited). Lots of casualties today (at last count 7). The theory being complete the first 5 stages and you will finish (me i take it one at a time). Happy with run especially as was sort of sunny after 30k's giving me the chance to take off coat, beanie & gloves (a blistering 16 degrees by a locals thermometer!). Unfortunately yesterdays post must have cursed Hiroka as she was having shoulder problems and i was surprised that she was behind me as i was sitting down to my usual feast at the 51k checkpoint. Was more surprised to keep up with the next 10k's on one of my dreaded "B" roads but by the next aid station decided it safer to back off (she finished 2nd well over an hour in front of me). 68 k's i simply hit the wall, i hadn't noticed it had got colder and had no choice but to don the cold weather gear and walk to the 71k aid station whilst being passed by another runner (used my solitary GU and then discovered i was out of water). Heaps of food and drink at that station, thankfully discovered that the runner who had passed me was just leaving. Ended up chasing him all the way to the end. Spent endless time running on "rail trail" type bike path with the town church tantalisingly in view. Shame the finish was other end of town!. In short 6th in 9:58:21. 500 metre walk to dinner hall probably did more good than harm (but please not there for breakfast) and then another back massage by Ramona and new painkilling tapes. 322.2 km down now sleep time!

The sunshine bores the daylights out of me

Yep a Stones lyric (Rocks Off - at a guess a lyric written by Keef at his drug addled worst when daylight was not often experienced) but frankly if it was true must have had the most unboring day ever. Started in same gear as yesterday and still had the same 92.3 km (plus one short wrong turn - i was following!) and almost 12 hours later. Interesting start to day, took 20 minutes to feel my shoulder. From then on it was bike paths and thankfully lesser roads, 70ks a little rain but otherwise "just another day in the office". Not sure if being passed by yesterdays top 5 (who started an hour later but i will admit awe regarding Japanese lady Hiroki who did in 2hours what i did the first 3, surely the female Kouros ) was a highlight or a lowlight !

Better days

Short summary as am lacking 3G access. Clear morning gave hopes of better weather, bus to start and, as still cold, sheltered in opposite train station till 6. Same gear as yesterday but with running shorts (bike shorts dont work for my tree trunk like quads so only use when raining to prevent chafing. 3 hours on and sun comes out and coat, beanie and finally gloves come off and headband on, at that point running 4th. At 56km the wheels come off a little when we hit 'the highway from hell' the B road to Stalvenhagen. Semis and fast cars make this a nightmare and the breeze blowing me about further stuffs my sore back. Happy to run the last 3k's with a local schoolkid (who was later to be part of the nights dancing entertainment). Again heaps of food and the highlight a neck massage by our masseuse Ramona. Interestingly she put some painkilling bandages on my neck for tomorrow. Resultswise 8th in 9:22 for the 83ks but longest day to come tomorrow.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Glad to be here, glad to be anywhere!

I should be ashamed using Keef's line as my header but lying in a warm hall and with a full stomach after 2 helpings of meat, potatoes & sauerkraut pretty much it sums up my day. 7AM was on bus to southernmost point Kap Arkona, arrived at 8 for 9AM start most of this time being spent trying to stay dry & warm. Did do the 200 odd steps to the beach as well as seeing where the submarine bunkers were. Finally we were off, me wearing goretex top over CR top, bike shorts, Skins socks, gloves, beanie & Nike Considered Humara shoes. Yes i was freezing !, felt my hands at 5k's but then rain got heavier and by the ferry ride at 21k was freezing again (funnily enough i was in group of 3 at ferry by the time it left there were 14). Spent the next hours ploughing through rain & wind which was steadily my neck & back sore. Was rapt to finally see some sun and Stralsund in the distance over the bay. 4k's to go finally removed jacket and even better finish was closer than i thought not thankfully through town. In short 16th today in 7:43:22 with leader 5:44:10. 8PM here (4am Aust time same as the time we wake tomorrow for start at 6). Just hope Voltaren tablets kick in and i have a good nights sleep ready for a big day.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

14 hours to D day

Well finally here we are at the Knieper West sports halls, despite them only being 3ks from my hotel it took most of the cloudy, cold, drizzling day Saturday (just look up the german Whereis and you will see Arnold zweig Strasse listed 6 times incredibly confusing, i'd actually been in the Aldi it was behind early in the day!). We are truly in the heart of old East Germany, endless blocks of what look like colourful housing commission flats. After settling i headed down to the beach but with 14 degree water temp wasnt tempted to swim. Medical checks (just hope they give me a larger capacity sample cup tomorrow!) and then the rest of the afternoon meeting people (including some familiar faces) and then to the official race briefing and media conference. A massive buffet there (sadly the pasta sauce a little rich for me) and now its back for hopefully a good nights sleep (even passed on a beer, after 1 with lunch yesterday promised myself that would be the last till i finished day one). Now for a deep dreamless sleep and then race day.

Friday, 7 September 2007

I do like to be beside the seaside

Knowing that with the race approaching this would be the only chance possibly for a long blog entry with pictures, here are some !!
Firstly the picture is the Hauptbahnhof for Historic Stalsund where i arrived yesterday afternoon after a 4 hour train journey from Hamburg, did it easy except for the fact that when i bought my ticket it said platform 6 and while i was sitting there wondered why there was a train to Rostock (my first stop) on the next platform.
Thankfully i asked the man there and he said my ticket was wrong, so had to maniacally dash up to the next platform. The trip itself was pretty much fields (some with deer) and windfarms and every 15 minutes or so a station, changed trains at Rostock (strangely changed from platform 3 to platform 7 and they were actually the either side of the same platform whilst 4 to 6 were quite a bit away - strange ???).
Finally at 4 arrive at Stralsund and am looking at my map to my hotel and after 5 minutes realise i am opposite it !!.
Of course there has to be some issue, i check in and find i'm double booked (that explains why one website gave me one cheap price whilst another dozen didn't have anything that cheap), apparently that had happened to a few people so that they had already arranged taxis and alternate (dearer at the cheaper price) accommodation, only downside a couple of K´s away from town (near the Tierpark - Zoo - actually), this brings me to the next two pictures just look at the size of the room for only €60 per night, absolutely massive (although disappointingly what looks like a double bed is two singles - i swear one day i will get a double bed !).
Even got to see "Die Simpsons" on TV, although i`m amazed that with 400 odd episodes to pick from the first one had Grandpa Simpson shooting at Hitler and Monty Burns stealing the Nazis stolen artworks, and the second one was about kicking illegal immigrants out of Springfield, both of these episodes dubbed in Germany were just too ironic to be true.
After that went for a stroll into town, still amazed by the number of cyclists, but finding that these ones appeared to be much more easygoing and stick to their own paths. Can't work out just why there are so many cyclists but it is a good thing (although at the back of my mind i wonder whether incredibly cheap alcohol - €1.49 for a 6 pack of beer - means nobody drives at night ???, as for me i just got to remember i'm here for a reason not just as a tourist !!).
Back by nightfall (9PM) and a great nights sleep, even slept till 8 (wont be doing that soon). As usual a great breakfast put on, heaps of cereal and bread and juice and coffee and boiled eggs etc, i'll be thankful i'm running soon or i'll put on weight :-).
Not sure if a reasonable knowledge of German language is a help or a hindrance, i can understand about half of what is said, but can't think enough to answer fluently (and the less said about my accent the better). As for the actual words everytime i think of breakfast i immediately sing to myself the chorus of the Stones Star Star (and you ask why - frühstücker (breakfaster) always sounds to me like a clean (well actually spoonerised) version of the chorus (and no i won't explain further i'm trying to keep this blog G rated, strange the way my mind works.
Anyway today it was off to the historic town itself, not sure it's actually the seaside (more a bay), but lots of boats and ships and seabirds etc and very tasty "Fisch & slips".
Ancient buildings from 1200 onwards and remains of walls and fortifications from there, so now back to wandering.
A little bit of housekeeping, i do appreciate the comments but can't work out in German how to get them on the blog without me giving authorisation (which i can only do from a pc not the phone), so possibly any comments from now to race end won't go on till later).
Anyway i'm off to explore (with thoughts of the Glasshouse 100 Miler on my mind - but can't be everywhere).

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Hamburg, slightly more restfully

Firstly the Deutschlandlauf formguide is now up, i'm number 18.
After Tuesday nights long whinging blog post, was more relaxed watching Law and Order (incredibly funny to watch one of my favourite TV characters Lenny - Jerry Orbach - dubbed into German although i reckon i only understand one in every 3 words) and basically just recovering from a long day (maybe i needed a shower, a feed and a drink before that post rather than after, cringe when i reread it but don't dare edit it as blogger is in Greman and i'm worried i'll delete the whole thing so it's publish and be damned !).
Had a more relaxing day, taking the train from Billstedt to KellinghusenStrasse, a station the other side of the city. Went for a wander keeping the massive tv tower in sight as i wanted to see whether it was possible to go up it (i'd been told that there was a restuarant which had shut because there was only one fire escape and legally there had to be two just didn't know about anything else.
Eventually get to it and the massive Messehalle (convention centres), but no luck in terms of getting up !!, still €5 for a 3 course lunch salad, lasagne and dessert (and a tasty local beer) meant it was worth coming out that way. Lot's of old fashioned shops reminded me of Greville St in this area.
Kept on walking till i got to Reeperbahn (the start of the infamous and huge red light district - think Kings Cross and multiply it many times) so decided i'd hop on the train and go to the harbour which i'd only touched on the day before.
Absolutely massive (best way to describe would be Circular Quay on steroids), a good mile of shops and eateries and ferries etc, and then the working parts of the harbour. I'd arrived at 3 and thought i'd have an early day, but a couple of hours later had only made it along to Altona and was still on the harbour (finally the sun was out and i'd had the chance to zip the legs off my pants and make them into shorts). Basically kept on walking till i hit the beach and the passages along that way between eateries and mansions followed then by parklands where there were many joggers (thankfully outnumbering cyclists !). No real idea where i was except on the banks of the Elbe, so couldn't be too hard to make it back, finally saw a path to a Bahnhof and found it was Klein Flottbek where the Botanical gardens are but by then was almost 7:30, so waited at station (worth noting the station had it's own pub !!, i can imagine commuters ringing home to say they will be late because of transport problems !!), and then two trains later was back at the Hotel. So again a long day, but now at least i felt i knew my way around.
Only complaint is the number of smokers in Europe, everywhere here there are cigarette vending machines (as opposed to France where there were all condom vending machines !), and whilst buildings are sort of smoke free, there is no real barrier between the smokers and non.
Anyway off to Stralsund today.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Like Canberra, but mad cyclists !!

Great nights sleep, and appeared to have had no jetlag waking as usual at 6:30. Certainly a good breakfast provided, heaps of cereal and toast and hard boiled eggs and juice and coffee, so was ready for a good look around Hamburg. Technically i am staying in the suburb of Billstedt around 5K's out of Hamburg proper, so a little walk into town.
Reminded me alot of Canberra, pretty cool (12 degrees) and heaps of bike paths and when closer into town lot's of paths around lakes (well actually offshoots of the River Elbe).
Never thought i'd be having a whinge about cyclists but here it is, all the footpaths around hamburg have well defined bike lanes but the cyclists here seem to think they own the footpath obviously they need more arrogant Aussie pedestrians to show them the error of their ways !!!.
Quite amazed i'd be walking on the footpath with the bike lanes being used next to me but a number of times i still had cyclists coming straight at me or from behind on the damned footpath, luckily having ridden a bike enough myself there was no way i was flinching or giving ground as i knew the only person to come out injured of this sort of collision is the cyclist as bikes are not really built for running into solid objects such as pedestrians (bent front wheel at least) and ultimately these riders seemed to realise this, still just couldn't understand why they insisted on trying to take over the whole footpath, just don't seem to be used to pedestrians (or at least ones who stand their ground - as i always will), anyway that's that off my chest.
Now i know where the HauptBahnHof (Central Station) is for my trip to Stralsund though tomorrow i will see how to get there by train (it'd be a helluva walk from my hotel with luggage).
Massive shops and heaps of running shoe stores (was so tempted by DS Racers only 70 Euros !), and lot's of interesting old buildings and bridges over the rivers (apparently more bridges than Venice). Again it proved to be a very small world, saw a couple with the man wearing a Terrigal Trotters top, sure enough Aussies over for the World Triathlon Championships last Sunday, wish i remembered their name but i do know the son was second Aussie (too hard to find the results on the net although i know Brad Kahlefeldt was third overall - i'm amazed i didn't manage to bump into his parents Paul & Carmel), had a chat for a while and then continued on my sightseeing. By 3 i thought it was time to take the weight off my feet and be a tourist so hopped onto the double decker tourist bus and had a great one hour tour, shame it was so cold though, absolutely freezing up the top of a topless bus and was happy to wrap my hands around a cappucino after (only 1.3 Euros not as bad as i thought !), highest temperature i had seen indicated anywhere was 16 degrees although the forecast was for 21.
Heaps of pictures and now it's 9 and i'm only just back in total 12 odd hours on my feet, very good training for the race ahead although i'm sure i'll take it a bit easier tomorrow, now that i have a map (logic dictates you get a map before going on a trip not 9 hours into a walk but since when do me and logic work together ??).
Had a good feed of curry for lunch, so it's ham sandwiches now (thankful that unlike France the hotels have fridges or maybe that's just the ones i was staying in), washed down with a little of the cheap Aldi white wine (75 Euro cents for a 1 litre carton of wine don't know how they do it but after all it is Aldi :-)).
Somehow i think i'll be sleeping well tonight.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007


Interesting flight to Germany, funny enough i'm the Duty Free area at Tullamarine airport (to be honest drooling at the cheap prices of Bundy rum but also thinking i have enough to carry - checked in baggage was 20.6 KG's and i have a full carry on bag, me and travelling light don't go well together after last years lost luggage saga i actually have two pairs of racing shoes and one set of running gear in my carry on !), and the first person i see is a fellow i worked with for years, mmm it is a small world.
7:20 PM and we are off, little disappointed in the entertainment after the smorgasboard that was Air NZ in June only 4 movies, so sit back and watch Mr Beans Holiday (some bit's of it as he struggled through France seemed so much like my experience there last year !), and it was good to see some of those landmarks again (i've never seen the Grand Arch at La Defense in a movie before). What we lack in entertainment we make up for in food, lovely meal and good bottle of white, surprised to find we go to Dubai via Singapore (i'd sworn i never wanted to go near Changi airport again after last years sage there), but no choice, arrive there 8 hours later and it's and hour till we leave, instead of getting off take the chance to lie down on a row of 4 empty seats and sleep. Then a few more hours to Dubai, arrive at 5AM local time and it's already 30 degrees, quite thankful for the massive air conditioned airport. Most of my flight are going to France and surrounds for the Rugby Union World Cup and i appear to be the only one headed to Hamburg. Worth noting Emirates uses metal cutlery after Singapore, thought that was a big no no a plane full of metal knives ??.
4 Hour wait at Dubai, where i pretty much just walk the massive airport, typically my one break is in the 'Quiet Lounge' and there my phone won't stop ringing (kept on getting dirty looks when i then had conversations on it !!), 50 terminal airport so was spending a lot of time trying to find where my flight left from as there was nothing listed for Hamburg, just little close in the end as it's actually the New York flight (which stops at Hamburg) and only just make it !.
It's quite amazing flying out of Dubai, we reckon Australia is full of wilderness, nothing compared to here, massive highways going through sand and then just sand and more and more of it.
Thankfully this different plane has much better entertainment, one channel has The Very Best of the Rolling Stones all 57 Songs, as well as the whole Let it Bleed Album and something like 50 movies. First up is Heat, anything with Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro can't be too bad, to be honest it didn't make it a masterpiece but reasonable. Breakfast for the second time (we had it after Singapore as well), and then thought i'd watch another classic (none of the new releases really grabbed me), Bonny & Clyde , for the most part an immoral movie and with an inevitable end but still worth watching. By the time it hand finished had finally got some views out the window, so just listened to the music (guess what), and another meal (strangely Budweiser was the beer available - no complaints here but seemed strange), and finally the sight of villages and Germany.
Not a great start 15 degrees and wet (similar to Melbourne ??), but by the time i'd gone through customs and , joy of joys picked up my suitcase !, it was sunny.
No idea where i was heading so lashed out on a taxi, now for a shower and a look around (don't think food is a huge priority all i seem to have done is eat !).