The Parco Naturale Tre Cime is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site on account of its spectacular landscape. On first impressions it reminded me of Whitlee Moor – cold, windy, raining and full of Scottish cyclists. You could get a decent pizza though.

The race was on Sunday, so on the Saturday I generally mooched around and watched the vertical sprint from the start line. I was pretty good at spotting the winners – fluid pole technique makes all the difference.

At the race briefing we were told that it would be a bad weather course. What the course turned out to be would depend on how much snow fell overnight. All options involved about the same distance and elevation so there wasn’t much point losing sleep over it.

Come race morning the pounding Euro-house matched the pounding rain on the start line. There were two races scheduled for the day (the Cadini SkyRace and the Misurina SkyMarathon); due to the bad weather both were now starting at the same time and would follow the SkyRace route first. What this meant is that for the first half of the day there was always company and I had no idea who I was supposed to be racing – this helped a lot as I could just relax, go my own pace and not stress about any competition.

In the first 500M I ran straight through a puddle, overtaking a dozen or so well-dressed athletes who were queuing for a narrow trod – no-one likes to get their calf-sleeves muddy I guess.

The rain & cloud meant no-one saw any UNESCO-endorsed beauty. I had to back the next day to confirm that it was there. Instead we got lots of long steep ascents, longer steep descents and even longer steeper muddier forest trails. Not quite the transcendent Dolomite terrain I’d hoped for but fun nonetheless. At least poles don’t work that well in the narrow-pathed woods – I was only at a disadvantage on account of the trip hazard when overtaking.

I’d clearly paced things well, making up about 20 places in the second half of the course, staying strong right to the end and even managing to win a sprint finish after a brutal final mile around the lake. There was about 5 minutes of smiles, high-fives and giddy elation before my body reminded me that I was REALLY REALLY COLD. After a hasty shower I spurned the drafty race tent for a cosy pizzeria where I stopped shivering after a little bit.

1) Milan Janata 03:55:06
17) James Callender 05:03:40

 

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