Last day of the mountains

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The Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run 2013 is over for now, and what a trip it was.. I had looked forward to this for a long time, especially over the last few months of summer, and it was not in any way a disappointment. Sure, there are things I would like to try and do differently another time, but for being the first time, it met all my expectations.
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The scenery was larger than life, the race was well organized, the fellow runners were all happy and fun to be around, and so on. Yeah, there were minor annoyances, like pasta cookers not being able to keep up with demand, but such things never detracted from the general feeling of experiencing something big and really different.
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I think perhaps the best part was in fact the total distance and time – in other words, there were so many memorable moments along the way, and it went on for a week, so there was ever more and more..
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A few words about the experiences of the last stage, then (a few, because it’s late, and I have a marathon to run early tomorrow, and ought to try to sleep soon)

The last stage started with an upbeat feeling, not just for our team, but in general, because everyone knew now that they had only one mountain range between them and the final finish line, and nothing short of sudden disaster would keep them from getting there.
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This time – as opposed to yesterday – the main ascent was at the start of the day, and it started almost right away. 1272 meters of ascent in 8,4 km is still a challenge, and wore down a lot of the enthusiasm we saw around us in the beginning, but we knew that at the top, the 3119 m Madritschjoch, everything else (in comparison) was going to be downhill.

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I have to admit I had mixed feelings about that. With an inflammation in the shin that was getting a little better, a lot better on climbing, but sometimes a lot worse in downhill, knowing that first 6 and then 13 almost continuous kilometers of in some cases very steep descents lay ahead, was scary. It did turn out OK in the end, but I remember these downhill tracks as something that was a great pity I didn’t have opportunity to fly down (I love downhill running, and flying from rock to rock). But I had greater respect for the continued well-being of my left leg, and in addition, my running team partner Elisabeth did not have a lot of downhill practice, as many others in the race, so especially the last day of so much descent, was hard on her legs.
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So we took it easy, zigzagged our way down first to the tree-line, then through the forests, and into the land of apples around the town of Latsch. Even the last 2-3 km were downhill, though much less steep, but they also transported us through rows and endless rows of heavy apple trees. In the sun and warmth at lower altitudes, this was a very nice way to get to the end, and we found extra energy to pick up the speed – not quite a burst of speed, perhaps – and dash across the finish line in the center of the town, earning a medal around our necks. It was a great feeling, and it certainly was fantastic to just relax, wander around, stand in the city square fountain – and perhaps even more – enjoy fresh beer and freshly made sausages.
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And then, just a few hours later, at the final pasta party, we were finally awarded our now well deserved finisher t-shirts. I have to admit that at this time, around 9 pm in the evening, tiredness was starting to creep up on me, and rather than partying all night (well, I can’t imagine that anyone did that), I left rather early and went to sleep. On the other hand, even after all these days, I woke up rested and hardly sore or feeling bruised, so I definitely did something right!
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The galla dinner pictured above..

Planning to write one more post about the race, summarizing the whole of it and listing some timing information and other info, for future reference. Take care, and to anyone running the Oslo Marathon tomorrow: Good luck!
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