Marathon World Championships, Villabassa ,Italy
Well my fifth Marathon World Championships is in the bag and although it was by far my best ever result, I have some mixed feelings about the race.
To begin with, I was only seeded in 88th place, and with the first climb of the day starting immediately, it would mean I would have to go flat out from the start, maybe using up too much energy for nothing.
So we began with the first climb of about 1000m vertical, and I had fought my way into the front pack of about 20 riders, containing all the favorites. After the long descent the group simply sat up. This allowed for more riders to join from behind and ultimately meant I probably could have saved a little energy up the first climb. I found this frustrating but none the less, you never know and always have to be near the front of the race to be in contention.
The second climb of the day, although not so long but steeper than the first, the race exploded and soon I found myself with only about seven riders, still all the big names left giving me extra motivation to ride myself into the ground. As we started the third climb, the remaining group began to splinter and soon I was on my own. I was starting to feel the first two hours of hard racing and needed to eat and drink more which is difficult to do when you on the limit.
At this stage in the race, I had left Karl Platt and Thomas Frischneckt and was riding in “no mans land” to try and get on to the wheels of a Swiss trio including Buchli and Naef. I think this was my big mistake as if I had just slowed down as paced myself with Thomas and Karl, my top ten place was almost secured. Instead I went with a “go until I blow” attitude, and it was a pity but a valuable learning experience as Thomas and Karl came flying past me just before the start of the final climb. Thomas would go onto catch some more riders and finish in seventh. I would suffer on riding with Frenchman Thomas Dietch, loosing three more places to finish in 14th spot. The final 30km was a real suffer fest and most of the riders were taking strain at this point, however with some reserved energy here, you could have made up a few valuable places. My finishing time was 5hrs5min for the course of 120km with 4000m of climbing, about 20minutes off Sauser and Paulissen who were simply in a league of their own. It was great to see Gilberto Simoni and Mirko Celestino finish only 2minutes ahead of me.
Anyway, another lesson learned and I have a good idea of what I need to do next year to ride into the top ten. As far as my preparation and training went for the event, with Activeworx and the support from the team, I could not have done more or been better prepared. I have a perfect blue print for next year, and hopefully a better seeding with a little more international racing to ensure this, I’ll achieve my goals.