Runs go in circles. Like life.
And taking the same circle again, it’s the same and different.
For the third time (and second year in a row), I went and participated in the Bergmarathon – the mountain marathon around the Traunsee lake.
Starting in the wee hours of the morning, it goes on to circle the lake, passing over the Grünberg, Traunstein, Spitzlstein, Feuerkogel, Grasberg and Grünberg on some roads, quite a few forest trails, and a number of mountain tracks, for a total distance of some 70 km and 4500 m of ascent.
The most impressive ascent is and remains, of course, that up the Traunstein. It is, after all, the highest peak here, made all the more impressive by how it rises out of the landscape quite alone.
The trails up, consequently, are sometimes nice and easy, other times more of a climb. Climb as in, requiring the use of hands as well as feet. If you want to give it a look, here you go (from the start, mainly up the Traunstein, and to an impression in Ebensee, the half-way point):
The views from above, however, are always rewarding – even if the thought of all the mountains still to cross / already crossed that day is always rather disconcerting…
One of the interesting things about this run, however, is and remains that everyone who’s participated in it knows that the ascent up the Spitzlstein is really one of the very hardest along this course. Perfect single-track through forest, past and through creeks – and after the heavy rain of the day before, there was water in many a place I’d never before seen it… and even more mud than usual. Hardly the longest ascent to the highest point… but the climb just goes on and on, relentlessly. That memory is already being pushed out of my mind, but I took a rest at least five times during that climb.
As I said before (at least, probably), the point here isn’t that it’s tough. It’s quite a familiar affair. The number of participants is highly limited, many are locals, I myself spend time around here whenever I can and am getting to know many of the mountain trails around here ever more intimately, and in all seasons.
So, why run again, you ask? (My wife certainly did…)
Exactly because it’s a familiar affair, one knows all the – literal – ups and downs ever-better – and yet, the weather plays out differently, one gets to meet different people, and one’s own condition, both in terms of the physical, training, state and in terms of feelings and experience, changes as well.
For me, it was the perfect ending to the 3 in 30 project – 3 ultramarathons in 30 days – with a chance at seeing how my condition has changed between my earlier participations and now.
The weather meant well, with temperatures not too high, but neither quite as bad a rain as the day before.
Some rain caught me on the last ascent, strong enough that it swamped my eyes (and contact lenses). Oddly enough, towards the end of that last ascent, there was a handkerchief hanging from a branch along the trail, clean, freshly washed by the smell of it, and still dry. Perfect little thing. Pleasure to wipe the rain and sweat away…
The “half pipe” trail going down the last forested descent was even more muddy than usual, and it was another lesson.
Some people in shirts advertising triathlons that had overtaken me a hill ascent before were bogged down in that mud, trying to pick a nice line and constantly slipping because of it.
My feet had been wet for most of the second half already, so I didn’t care anymore, ran through the deepest muck there was, water flowing through it, mud splashing every which way, with seemingly reckless abandon – and it was the surest path, with the least slipping, and a joy just like that of the child the day before, looking for the deepest puddles to make a splash in.
Forget the pain, forget goals, set on a good path and go. Be.
Only too soon, only some echo of your having been, and preferably having been a good model to others, will remain.
So, live your time well. Not some time soon. Now and every day. Average and extraordinary.