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.