World Mountain Running Championships 2001
by Australian competitor Paul Crake, held Arte Terme, Italy on 16 September 2001
The course for World Champs consisted of 2 laps with approximately 450m each of ascending and descending. Total distance was meant to be 12.9km but it seemed quite a bit longer. I think the measuring stick may have got stuck in the mud! The main concern was the extremely steep and muddy downhill which, as it turned out, claimed quite a few casualties!
The race began, as usual at a fast pace, with the Africans showing their fantastic track speed. It wasn't long before the climb began and the hustle and bustle for a bit of room began. By the top of the climb I had managed to pull through into the low 20s still feeling comfortable. It wasn't long before we were into the chaotic descent slipping and sliding down the track. All was going well as I continued to make up places, however it was difficult enough navigating one's way down without having to pass runners and my luck quickly came to an abrupt end. An African seemed to come across my path and I ended up taking us both out. Rest assured I did apologise, both then and after the race when in the first aid tent having our war wounds attended to!
I completed the descent in 9th place and began the roller-coaster ride of short ups and downs to the end of the first lap. The legs seemed to be in one piece, however the downhill had literally knocked the stuffing out of the body. I cruised along, so to speak, until nearing the end of the lap where I encountered a rather sharp corner which was more slippery than expected. Off I went again, this time into the crowd!
Into the second lap and some safe climbing. I settled into a group and wended my way to the top for the final time in preparation for the downhill. Fortunately I stayed on my feet for the descent and picked up a few places. I will admit there were a several sections of that downhill where fear started to set in, so much for the no fear mentality. Anyhow, onto the home straight and over the roller-coasters, remembering to slow for that corner. With several hundred metres to run I made a final surge over a technical section and found myself flat on my face. Well, what difference does one more fall make!
I finished in 17th position. Nevertheless I was very happy with the result. Quite a bit better than last year's effort. Rest assured I only do this sort of punishment to the body every 2 years. World Champs is one of those races where you can't afford to hold back on the downhills. Am looking forward to next year's 12km of straight up!