I told Martin that one of my favorite things about his wonderfully written race reports is how he takes us along as he analyzes the day. This Marcialonga report is no exception; this man skis with his brain as much as his body. Enjoy!
The traditional snake of snow in Val di Fiemma and Val di Fassa was drowned in snow just a few days before this year's Marcialonga. But the heavy snowfall did not stop the Italians from transporting tons of man-made snow up and down the valley. That is because the course of Marcialonga does not go around the local towns but instead winds through them. That is also why the bases, after the race, show more wear than in any other race. Small rocks hitchhike with the trucks to get in touch with the 14,000 shiny bases.
From the speakers: "One minute to start." Two breaths later and the starter launched the race. The start procedure in Marcialonga is always a surprise. This year everyone in front of me had put their skis on. Not so a few lines back... The start is very important in all marathon races, but in Marcialonga it is extremely important. 100 meters after the start line, eight tracks are down to four, and five hundred meters later they are down to two. Therefore, I was standing and waiting at the gate to the start area more than two hours before the start, trying to get a good position. I did get a good start position, but I also got chilled and stiff. Somehow that stiffness never left me during the warm-up before the start. As a consequence, I did not have access to all cylinders when the front pack slowly increased the gap to me right after the start. No one in the way this year, just a slow body that did not manage to stay on the skis of the guy in front of me.
The rest of the race was very much like a replay of last year's race. From 8K into the race, I was running on all cylinders and soon caught the chasing group. We were ten disappointed skiers who knew that it would be impossible to catch the leading pack down the valley. This year I was never to feel the satisfaction of double poling next to the very best guys, like I did two years ago. Last year I pushed hard in front in a desperate attempt to catch them and paid by suffering in the final climb. This year, I decided to save power and do a better double poling up the 200 vertical meters through the narrow streets of Cavalese. But the end of a race is not just about saved power. It is also about confidence. This day the power was better than the confidence and I let two guys from professional teams ski away without even trying to follow. Half way up the climb I realized that they were not faster than me anymore and that there was still power in my core and arms. Too late; they had been lying exhausted in the snow for 15 seconds when I crossed the finish line relatively fresh on the wrong side of the top-30 cut.
In König Ludwig Lauf on Sunday, my main goal is to finish exhausted.