Stage 5 – Prettau to Sand in Taufers Thursday, 6 September, 2012
Number of cold baths to date: 3
It's difficult when you are running an event like the Transalpine Run to give a real flavour of what it is like. Describing the stages and what we've achieved each day only gives a technical overview of what the race is about; there is so much more. Rather than describe the stage (in a nutshell: it's long, hilly and painful), I wanted to give an insight into two aspects of the race, the kit each day and our nutrition.
Our kit is pretty simple, a combination of keeping it lightweight while fulfilling all the compulsory basics. Because our climb into altitude each day brings with it different climate we have to carry waterproofs and warm weather gear, as well as the obligatory Buff and cap, even if it is sunny in the valley. Poles are optional, but few go without, although carrying at least a litre of water is necessary.
Fortunately, one of the best things about the Transalpine Run are the Fuel Stations, as they are called. The rather technical name covers over the fact they are an abundant feast of delights. We're not talking some limp slices of orange, cups of water and a few gels. Think fruit and vegetables – fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, oranges, bananas – as well as soup, tea, coca cola, huge vats of High Five energy drinks and water. There's also generous slices of salami, fresh baguettes and my personal favourite, lashings of chocolate covered sponge cake. I never usually eat at food stations on endurance races, preferring instead my own ClifBar Shotblocks; just the sight of the 'Fuel Station in 500 metres' sign makes me ravenous.
But back to the race.
It doesn't matter what stage occurs the next day, someone the night before will tell you it's an 'easy' stage. Almost every stage so far has been called an 'easy' stage by someone or another, and yet for an ordinary Joe like myself, the 'easy' part seems to be lost in translation. Today's definition of easy meant 'only' ('easy' on the inverted commas, man...) 1,000 metres of ascent over 32km. It wasn't.
I can't make my mind up whether the mountains are genuinely lung-bustingly difficult to climb or whether I'm suffering from altitude woes.
One of the hardest parts of this race is running with a partner, particularly one who usually runs faster. Ceri knows he can go a lot faster than me; however, he hasn't run a multi-day event on this scale before and I'm overly cautious. Sustaining an injury in the dash for the finish of each stage is all well and good but hurt your ankle on day two and you won't make it to the end. Already, some of the elite runners have befallen this fate, winning early stages, then burning out before making it past halfway. The tortoise and the hare analogy very much applies here. It just so happens I'm a very, very slow overweight tortoise.
Here are our finishing times so far:
Stage 1 – 8:22:07
Stage 2 – 7:34:00
Stage 3 – 8.51.05
Stage 4 – 7.55.08
Stage 5 – 6.10.46