Thursday, 31 May 2012

Brigels Berglauf

The Alpine mountain racing season is well underway now and after a 2nd place a few weeks ago in the Zugerberg Classic I tested my form again on monday at the Tavanasa-Brigels Berglauf deep in Graubunden.

Its a fantastic race starting starting under the old bridge in Tavanasa and then after a gentle first 3km the race takes a sharp turn into the forest and climbs steeply for the next 5km. Indeed most of the 780m of ascent comes during this middle phase of the race and the steep forest paths are briefly interspersed with sections of flat or downhill running on very narrow and twisty tracks. Definitely one where some local knowledge comes in handy if you are to stay on the path and avoid the sharp drop !

After a steady start I got into a nice rythmn and passed Swiss cross country skiier Toni Livers at 2 km and then finally caught the leader and last years winner Florian Suter bfore the 4km mark. It was then a game of cat and mouse through the forest as Florian was able to open a gap on the flat and downhill sections and I was able to catch up again on the steep climbs. Emerging from the forest at 7km we were greeted with a final climb through a typical grassy Swiss Alpine meadow with loads of spectators cheering you on. This was where I decided to make my move as I really didn't fancy a last kilometre burn up through the streets of Brigels (top left). By the top of the climb I had a gap but not a yet a winning one. Fortunately the climb had taken less out of my legs than Florian's and I was able to hammer the last undulating kilometer through town in 3 mins to cross the line in 42mins and 8 secs.

One of the great things about these events are the kids races that are put on, often after the grown ups have finished. So we all got to stand out in the square and cheer on the aspiring olympians as they raced like lunatics round the village. Best of all was the youngest age group who got to do an out and back round the fountain (about 150m in total) chasing a guy with a cuddly toy strapped to his back (left). Look at the angle the kids are leaning over at as they sprint round the corner.

The day was finished off with risotto and the presentations where during my podium interview I succeeded in mangling some of my german. much to the amusement of the audience, and then redeemed myself by mustering a few words of Rumansch to end the interview which went down well in this Rumansch speaking village.

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