Saturday, August 26, 2006

14er Report - La Plata Peak

14er Report
La Plata Peak – 14,336 ft
Aug 25/06

Since Fri was scheduled as a ‘rest’ day from running I figured it would be a good day to climb a 14er and hopefully assist my effort to re-acclimate to the high altitudes upon my return from the latest marathon trip to Europe. But what 14er to climb?

I decided on La Plata Peak – the 5th highest peak in Colorado at 14,336 ft – because my son Chris and I had tried to climb that peak last fall and sadly had to turn back at 13,600 ft when we ran into a severe sleet/snow storm. I remembered how steep and treacherous the trail had been so I consulted my ‘14er Guide’ and chose an alternate route described as the ‘easiest’ route up Plata Peak.

I woke at 4:30 am to get an early start since La Plata Peak is located in the Sawatch Range between Leadville and Buena Vista and the West Winfield Trailhead is located 15 miles in the remote wilderness of the Sawatch Range. I arrived at the trailhead before 7am and luckily (in hindsight) as I was leaving the trailhead at 7am I met another hiker from Denver and we agreed to team up for the climb. The ‘easy’ trail starts at 10,380 ft and climbs 3960 ft over 5 miles to the summit of La Plata Peak (14,336 ft)! The first 2 miles were easy as described in the Guide – we climbed about 1,900 ft to the tree line. But then the lies/misinformation began! The trail climbed about 200 ft over 1 mile through an Alpine Swamp/Marsh. This section of Hell was not described in the Guide? Brushes covering the trail were wet from a rain on Thu night and soaked our clothes from head to foot while the trail was ankle-deep mud that tried to suck the trail shoes off my feet! And as we tried to get through this miserable section of trail the skies started to cloud over and darken. We were not sure and concerned if the weather would hold out. However when we finally got through the marsh the sun burned through the clouds and started to dry out our clothes as we approached a couloir that ascended steeply about 800 vertical ft to a ridge. We could barely see a huge mountain peak through the clouds above the ridge and assumed that had to be La Plata Peak?

We climbed a very steep dirt trail up the couloir to the ridge at 13,200 ft. I was not looking forward to the descent back down that couloir! The Guide said that we had to hike about one mile along the ridge and up a gentle slope to the summit. Bullshit! When we reached the base of the mountain we were faced with a 1,000 ft ascent across scree/rocks and no trail. We had to pick our way up the scree using Cairns (man-made rock piles) as our only guide to the summit. I estimated that we would reach the summit about 10:30am. I was close – it was10:40am when we reached the summit. However we were surprised to discover it was a ‘false’ summit – another summit that was 300 ft higher lay about another ½ mile to the North? That must be La Plata Peak? But there was a wee problem – we had to descend 300 ft into a saddle and then ascend another 600 ft to that next summit – all down and up more scree/rock with no defined trail!

As we crested that next summit about 40 minutes later I was again surprised/dismayed to see 3 hikers descending yet another summit about 100 ft higher and another 500 ft North. We were on our 2nd ‘false’ peak – neither of which was described in the 14er Guide? Fortunately it was a short hike (across more scree) to the true summit of La Plata Peak. It was 11:30 am – 4 ½ hours to climb 5 miles and 4000 ft – and half of it scree – and that was the ‘easy’ route! As we were unpacking our lunch a 3rd hiker joined us on the summit. He and his dog had hiked up the ‘difficult’ route (the same one Chris and I had used) in 2 ½ hours! I contemplated asking him if I could hike back down the ‘difficult’ route with him and hitch a ride back to my car. But then I had an even better idea as my friend called his wife from the summit. I asked her to send a helicopter because we didn’t want to hike back down either route! However that silly notion vanished quickly as we noticed some dark/ominous clouds approaching from the west. A thunderstorm was approaching rapidly – time to get our asses off the mountain!

We didn’t think that we would have enough time to descend back down the ‘easy’ route before the storm struck so we had to hope that the storm would skirt north or south of La Plata Peak? We made it back down the saddle and had begun our ascent up the 1st false peak when the sky darkened, the temps plummeted 30 degrees and it started to sleet. – the 2nd time this mountain had greeted me with sleet? It was cold and the sleet stung every piece of exposed flesh but we were happy that there was no thunder/lightning. As we crested the summit of that false peak and began our descent across the scree the winds increased to 40 mph driving the sleet into every inch of exposed flesh. It also limited our visibility and covered the scree/rocks with sleet and ice. Shit – can it get any worse? The answer unfortunately came too soon – about half way down the descent with a FLASH –KABOOM! The center of the storm was passing directly over the mountain and the lightning was flashing all around us! We were fully exposed on a rocky mountain at 13,500 ft in the center of a violent thunder/electrical storm! We looked at each other with concern and thought, “Our chances of getting off this mountain alive are not looking too good! We had no choice but to hasten our pace/descent and increase our risk of a fall/injury on the slippery rocks covered with sleet/ice!

When we reached the bottom of that summit and the ridge at 13,000 ft the storm was still directly over us so we ran the entire ½ mile flat section of trail along the ridge to the top of the couloir. When we reached the couloir the sleet stopped. We thought things were finally looking up - until we looked down! That steep dirt trail down the couloir was covered in sleet and ice! “No way in Hell am I going down that!” I thought. But Mother Nature had a different opinion as she hurled another bolt of lightning into the mountain followed by an-almost simultaneous boom of thunder that proclaimed a bold and clear message “Move your ass or I will fry it with a million volts of electricity”!

Fear is a great motivator! I threw myself off the edge of the ridge/cliff down into the couloir! With the help of my hiking poles – those ‘blessed’ poles - and using a strange fluid motion that I thought might work – a combination of jogging and sliding – I was able to maintain my balance and managed to make that frightening 800-ft descent down that couloir in less than 20 minutes! I was so thankful that I had carried my poles because I would never have made it (safely) down that couloir without them! While I waited at the bottom for my friend the weather started to change in our favor. The storm center had passed over us and was now on the east slopes of the mountain. We could still see the lightning and hear the thunder so we knew there was still an extreme risk/danger from the lightning. I told my friend that I was going to run the entire 1-mile section of trail across the Alpine Marsh and would not stop until I reached the safety of the tree line!
I took off. He followed but did not have the stamina to keep up. However I kept my promise as I hauled ass through the wet brushes and ankle-deep sucking mud and did not stop until I reached the tree line where I finally waited for my friend! By the time he arrived at the tree line the weather had improved significantly. The storm had moved off to the east of the Sawatch Range and the sun was breaking through the clouds and it was warming up!

We finally felt relatively safe so we relaxed and changed out of our cold/wet clothes and completed the final 2 miles and 2,000 ft of descent at a more leisurely pace. When we arrived at our cars we looked at each other and nodded in silent agreement. We were sooooooooooo lucky to get off that mountain ALIVE and we were grateful that we had teamed up because each other’s company had provided a feeling of comfort and safety on that terrifying descent down the mountain!

It had taken 3 hours for the hasty/frightening descent for a total of 7 ½ hours for the trip – on the ‘easy’ route. You have probably already guessed that I have a strong recommendation for anyone planning to climb La Plata Peak:

DO NOT – under any circumstance believe that untrustworthy and lying sack-of-shit- author of the 14er Guide and - take the ‘EASY’ route! Instead – take the ‘difficult’ route. It is much easier, quicker and safer!

I also have 2nd recommendation that I am going to follow myself:

I plan to buy a new toy – a lightning detector that can detect lightning 75 miles away and track the direction of the storm. It can probably also tell you (right before you die) when your ass is going to be hit by lightning!

In spite of some scary moments I still consider the climb to be a successful adventure with many positive benefits:
a) I managed to complete an alternate workout on my rest day that was interesting- challenging- exciting – almost electrifying!
b) I had no difficulty with altitude as I climbed 3 peaks above 14,000 ft and ran faster than lightning along a ridge at 13,000 ft. Thus I am confident that I am re-acclimated to altitude.
And most importantly
c) I survived a violent thunderstorm at 14,00 ft and am alive to tell this story to my loyal readers!

I hope y’all appreciate all the effort/pain/risk/peril that Maddog submits his old bod to just to bring you these interesting stories and introduce some excitement into your boring work lives and hopefully motivate you to quit those boring/useless jobs and retire to join Maddog in future adventures. I can promise you adventures that are challenging/interesting/exciting – and maybe even electrifying! In fact I plan to climb a few more 14ers next week if anyone cares to join me!

Stay tuned for the next report!

P.S. I am sorry that I did not take any photos on the mountain during the storm with lightning/sleet/ice etc, but I was a little preoccupied. I will try to make a better effort the next time.

Friday, August 11, 2006

TR Greenland

Trip Report – Sweden and Greenland – Part 2

TR Greenland
Nuuk Marathon
Nuuk, Greenland
Sat, Aug 5/06
Marathon # 268 - Country # 77
3:34:06 10 OA - 3 AG

Now where did we leave off in Part 1? Oh Yes – I had finally departed Copenhagen, Denmark for Greenland – a 5 hour flight West to Kangerlussuaq. Why are most of the flight connections to Greenland from Denmark? Because Greenland, which is the largest island in the world, is an independent country with a home-rule government under Danish rule. The small population of 55,000 and economy dependent on fishing is not self- sufficient and must be subsidized by Denmark. Although many Europeans believe that Greenland is thus part of Europe it is considered to be geographically part of N. America! (thus not included in my list of European countries!)

As we crossed Greenland from East to West I was amazed at the size of the Polar Ice Cap. It is 2500 Km long (N to S) and 1000 Km wide (E to W) and 3500 m thick at its highest point! It covers 85% of the country and represents 10% of the world’s total fresh water supply! We flew into Kangerlussuaq (about 200 Km above the Arctic Circle) situated at the head of the Sondre Stromfjord which is Danish for Kangerlussuaq meaning ‘Big Fjord’. It is one of the longest fjords in the world. Kangerlussuaq is a former USAF Base called Bluie West Eight that was built in 1941 to ferry airplanes from the USA to Europe for WW II. After the Cold war the US turned the Base over to Denmark in 1992 and it serves as the international gateway to Greenland.

I arrived in Kangerlussuaq at 10 am on Wed morning. I had booked 2 days there because it is only 30 Km from the Polar Ice Cap and offers tours to the Ice Cap. I immediately booked a tour for that afternoon and then checked into my hotel. Because I was too cheap to pay $200 for a room in the new 3-star hotel attached to the airport terminal I was assigned a room on the former Base on the opposite side of the airport. That ‘hotel’ was a former barracks for enlisted men and had not been updated since it was built 60 years ago? However the room was clean, had a TV with 3 channels (one in Inuit, one in Danish and Discovery Channel with 50% of the programs in English so I ‘discovered’ a lot of information during my 2-day stay) and a common bathroom at the end of the hall. All of that luxury for a mere $130/night!

The tour to the Ice Cap started at 1 pm and lasted 5 hours. We drove in a huge all-terrain vehicle on a dirt 4X4 road that had been built by the US and is now used solely to take tourists to the Ice Cap. The road follows the Watson River that originates at the Polar Ice Cap and flows into the Fjord. Along the route we stopped to explore some of the terrain and wild flowers including the Niviarsiaq – the national flower of Greenland. The terrain reminded me of a mixture of the Canadian Arctic and the Faroe Islands. We also passed the only 18-hole golf course in Greenland that is built on a glacial/alluvial plain of silt /sand deposited by the Ice Cap and the Watson River. Words cannot do it justice so I took some pictures to explain.

The road ended about 30 Km south of Kangerlussuaq at the Polar Ice Cap where we walked about 1 mile out on the Ice Cap to explore. The ice is rough in the summer and easy to walk on without slipping and falling. It was quite cool with temps about –2 C!
I spent considerable time talking to our Inuit guide about the Polar Ice Cap and global warming. I also talked to several other Inuits and residents during my 5 days in Greenland to derive a conclusion about global warming? I mentioned that scientific research had concluded that there were 32 ‘Ice Quakes’ (caused by water melting and running under the ice resulting in the ice sliding/moving faster and causing quakes) in the 1st 10 months of 2005 vs. a total of 10 in 1995? The guide replied that there were some glaciers that were melting faster than normal but the Ice Cap was stable and in fact was increasing in size and depth each year! He acknowledged that the weather was warming but stated that there had been many such patterns or cycles in Greenland over the past generations as told by his elders. He did not believe in ‘global warming’ as warned by the scientists and believed that they were only raising an alarm to win more grants and salary. This same opinion was reiterated by many other Inuits and residents during my visit? So you draw your own conclusion. I have mine that I will share in person but not in my newsletter. The only conclusion I am willing to share is that I confirmed what I already knew “Al Gore is an IDIOT”!!!

After freezing my butt off for an hour on the Ice Cap we returned to Kangerlussuaq and I ate dinner at the hotel restaurant. However when I left the hotel to return to my luxury room I discovered that the bus quit running at 7 pm and I had to walk 2 km around the airport and back to my room. Actually it was a refreshing walk and there was lots of light since the sun only set for 2 hours and even then there was still light. When I woke at 3 am to make the long walk down the hall to the bathroom I looked out the window and was surprised to see the local kids riding their bikes up and down the street? I tried to sleep in on Thu to make the day shorter since there is nothing to do in Kangerlussuaq but the light and jet lag didn’t help! So I got up and went back to the hotel for breakfast and then I walked 2 miles on the 4X4 road to the golf course to take better photos. By then I was really bored and decided to do an easy 10-mile run using every road in town. That evening I joined a businessman from Nuuk for dinner and spent a lot of time learning about Greenland and Nuuk. I was happy to hear that his assessment of Kangerlussuaq agreed with mine “It is a shithole’!

On Fri morning I took an early 1–hr flight to Nuuk. Nuuk or Godthab (Good Hope) is located at the mouth of the Nuuk Fjord. It was founded in 1728 by the Danish missionary Hans Egede and is the capital and largest city in Greenland with a population of 15,000. After checking into my hotel (I had splurged and booked the best hotel in Nuuk) I picked up my race package at the Katuaq Cultural Center. Then I decided I should do my shopping for souvenirs, etc because I figured that I wouldn’t have time on Sat and the shops would be closed on Sun. It only took a few hours to find all four souvenir shops and buy the gifts I needed.

On Fri evening the local running club offered a ‘free’ pasta party at the Katuaq that I attended since it was cheaper than eating in a restaurant. The food was surprisingly good and plentiful and I got the opportunity to meet with the race director and some local runners. I learned that there were about 50 runners in the marathon and more than a dozen of them were in the M50 age group. I asked why there was no M60 group and found out that I was the only runner over 60 in the race! The race director offered to make a new age group but since there were no age group awards offered I declined the offer. Then he informed me that the club had two male runners in their early 50s that could run in the low 3 hrs! And after he described how difficult the course was I knew that I would be lucky to compete for 3rd place in the M50 age group. The course was a half marathon loop using every road in Nuuk and included several BAHs (Bad Ass Hills). The marathoners got to run it twice! One of the club members offered to drive me around the course but I had seen some of the course on the taxi ride to the hotel so didn’t think it was necessary. I figured a goal/target of 3:40 should be realistic and my strategy was to run the 1st half smart – slow and easy to gage the course and then push the 2nd half?

On Sat I woke and ate an early breakfast to assure that it would be digested before the 12 pm start and I wouldn’t suffer the same intestinal problems/cramps that I had in Sweden!
I kept checking the weather outside and the forecast. It was cool/nippy with a temp of 4 C and it wasn’t expected to warm up much during the day. I decided to wear running tights and a long sleeve T-shirt. I felt comfortable when I lined up with about 400 other runners at the 12 pm start. There were 3 races – a marathon, Half and a 3.4 Km Mini Marathon for the kids and families. The race was one of the biggest social events of the year in Nuuk! I took off with the Big Dogs and ran the 1st 5 Km (with 3 hills) in 24:45. At that point I realized that a) I had over dressed; b) I was over heated and c) I had started too fast! I couldn’t do much about a) & b) but I slowed down immediately. I let some Half Marathoners pass me who looked like they were running just a wee bit slower than 5 min/Km and dropped in behind them. I soon discovered that the nastiest BAHs were located at 9 Km and 14 Km (30 and 35 Km on the 2nd loop). By the time I crested the BAH at 14 Km I was engaged in a one-way duel with another old fart. I say ‘one-way’ because I had looked at his race number and guessed he was running the Half so it was not important to me how he ran. But he must have thought I was running the Half and kept passing me so I played a mean game with him. I let him lead until the final BAH at 20 Km and then I surged up the hill and passed him. Once I crested the hill I slowed down and let him catch me just before the finish line for the Half. He was pushing and hurting as he sprinted past me to win the M50 age group for the Half. As I went by him at the finish line (1:49:39) I slapped him on the back and congratulated him on a nice kick to the finish – and continued on the 2nd loop!

But now I had a big problem/dilemma! I was all alone! There were no runners in front of me for the 2nd half! I hadn’t paid much attention to all the twists and turns in the 1st half because I had lots of runners to follow. I wasn’t sure if I knew the course? Fortunately when I reached the 1st turn near 22 Km I looked left and saw two runners about ½ mile ahead of me. I decided I needed to push my pace and follow them. I passed the closest runner around 25 Km but the other runner seemed to be picking up his pace and I had to push harder to stay close. We started passing runners around 30 Km but I had slipped into a comfortable and easy groove following the young runner and decided to stay with him as long as I could. I missed the markers at 25 and 30 Km and when I finally reached 35 Km in 2:57 I was surprised that we were averaging an 8-min pace on the 2nd loop?
I stayed with that young runner/course guide until the BAH at 41 Km where I passed him and another runner as I charged to the top. At the top I decided to cruise the last 1 Km to the finish line in 3:34:06. I was surprised that I had run a negative split through those BAHs on the 2nd loop so needless to say I was pleased with both my time and performance.

There were no results posted at the finish line or later at the post race party so I didn’t learn until I returned to Copenhagen that the two youngsters in the M 50 group had whipped my butt as expected but I had managed to place 3rd in the age group and 10th place overall. I am pleased with my results.

The running club held a great post-race party that evening at a local discothèque where they provided a nice buffet but no booze since beer cost $7/pint. Awards were presented to the top 3 winners but no awards were given for age groups?

On sun I had hoped to take a boat tour on the harbor/fjord to watch whales or see the coast from the water but the weather was miserable. It rained all day with a temp of 2 C and I wasn’t willing to pay $100 to freeze my butt off on the water. Instead I did a self-guided walking tour of Nuuk visiting the old city established in 1728 and the Harbor where the cruise ships docked. On sun evening I enjoyed a great dinner of musk ox. And No – it does not taste like chicken. It tastes like beef with a ‘wild’ taste.

On Mon morning I flew back to Copenhagen via Kangerlussuaq and arrived in time for another pleasant dinner at an outdoor café. On Tue morning I did a final 10-mile training run around the tourist sites of CPH and Christiania before taking a boat tour on the harbor and canals of CPH. I finished my last day in CPH with a gourmet dinner of braised rabbit and beer at an outdoor café while enjoying the magnificent scenery that passed by on foot and bike.

Finally – Wed – time to go home. But there was one last surprise for Maddog. After I checked in at the airport and my gate a Delta rep announced that today was a special day for Delta and the flight from CPH to Atlanta. It was the 100th flight for that new service and to celebrate Delta was going to present a special award to the 100th passenger who checked in at the gate! And that lucky passenger was seated in 26F – it was Maddog!
They gave me a bottle of good French champagne and a box of Belgian chocolates. I was wearing my Nuuk Marathon shirt and questions followed and soon I was asked to interview and pose for publicity photos for a local CPH trade journal. Somehow it seems difficult for Maddog to stay low-key and invisible??

In hindsight (after the news the next day about the terrorists) I was lucky that I had returned home on Wed. I am not looking forward to my next international marathon trip – to S. America in Oct.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

TR -Sweden

Trip Report –Sweden and Greenland – Part 1

TR –Sweden
Olands Marathon
Olands, Sweden
Sat, Jul 29/06
Marathon # 267
3:38:47 – 25 OA – 1 AG

The purpose of this trip was to run another country – Greenland – but as I started to plan the logistics of the trip I soon discovered that there were no direct flights from the USA to Greenland. The easiest /cheapest way to get there was to fly East for 15 hours from Denver, CO to Copenhagen, Denmark and then fly back West for 5 hours to Greenland.
I figured it made more sense to depart a few days early and stop over in Copenhagen to recover from jet lag, meet some friends and run a tune up marathon somewhere in Europe. Research on the Net revealed that the closest/easiest race to get to from Copenhagen was the Olands Marathon on Olands Island – an island in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Sweden.

I managed to find a friend, Tad from London, who was interested in joining me for the race. Thank goodness because it became very difficult to register and get to the race and his help was invaluable. The local running club had a website (in Swedish) that provided basic details but when we tried to contact the club we got no response? I had to contact some running friends in Sweden and Latvia and ask them to contact the club. Finally we received a response “You are most welcome to run our marathon” but very few details and no offer of assistance with logistics such as hotel, transportation, etc. We were on our own. I had difficulty trying to make reservations on the Net (from the USA?) but Tad was able to succeed from the UK and even had to call a car rental agency to book a car because they refused to answer our emails. But finally we had all the travel plans in place and Tad and I agreed to meet in Kalmar, Sweden on July 28th.

I departed Denver early on July 27 and flew via Atlanta to arrive in Copenhagen around 10 am on July 28. I took a train from the airport directly to Kalmar, Sweden via the 16 km bridge to Malmo – a 3-½ hour train ride. Since I arrived before Tad I checked us into the hotel and did a quick walking tour of Kalmar. Kalmar is a medieval city that was once the mightiest city and center of power in Sweden. The Kalmar Slott (Castle) dates back to the 12th century and the Cathedral was built in 1660. It is a compact city so I was able to tour most of the historic/tourist sites and still meet Tad at the train station when he arrived about 5 pm. I gave Tad a personal tour on Fri night before we enjoyed our normal pasta dinner. By then we had learned two important things: 1) Nothing was cheap in Kalmar or Sweden and 2) Kalmar and Olands were a local tourist region that catered to Swedes (not international tourists) and very few locals spoke English.

We learned that the marathon was being held in Lottorp, a small town located about 80 km north of Kalmar on Olands Island. It started at 5 pm on Sat. We decided to leave around 12 pm because we were concerned about heavy traffic on the narrow roads on the island. I volunteered to drive the rental car since the Swedes drive on the ‘right’ side of the road! We stopped in Borgholms – the largest town on the island – to tour the ruins of the Borgholm Slott dating back more than 1000 years and to eat a greasy pizza for lunch. We arrived in Lottorp about 3 pm and easily found the start/finish line of the marathon. Fortunately one of the runners had been contacted by my friend in Sweden and had been expecting us. He spoke pretty good English and was able to fill in many of the details about the race and course that we needed.

The course started with a 2 km loop around the town and then an 11km loop west to the Sea (Kalmar Sound) and back to town. The marathon would be 3 loops and a final 2 km loop around the town. The course was flat. There were 62 runners in the marathon. Tad and I were the only runners that were not local or from a neighboring Scandinavian country. And the weather was much hotter than forecast – temps were still in the 80s F at the 5 pm start. I had expected cooler temps and had not packed a singlet so I asked the race director if anyone would be offended if I ran without a shirt. He replied that I could run naked if I wished but since my fat ass and the spare tire around my gut don’t have any pockets to carry carbo gels and my race shorts do I kept them on! However the heat was not my biggest problem/concern. Something I ate for breakfast or that greasy pizza for lunch didn’t agree with me and I was suffering severe stomach cramps. I spent a lot of time in the toilet before the race trying to get rid of whatever was bugging me but still had cramps when I lined up at the start line.

I ignored the cramps/pain and took off with the Big Dogs. I followed the three lead women through 5 Km in 23:29 but then the cramps got worse and by 8 Km I was forced to pull off to the side of the road for a ‘full service’ pit stop. I have never done that in a marathon before! While I had my shorts dropped down around my ankles an old fart passed by! When I finally finished the pit stop I set out to catch him and it took me 5 km to pass him and for the next 20 Km we became engaged in a serious duel/pissing match!
We changed the lead many times as we tested each other’s speed and willingness to accept pain. I passed the Half in 1:46:19 in spite of the heat and the time lost to the pit stop. However I knew at that point that the 2nd Half would not be as fast because the heat had extracted a toll on our old bods. Around 25 km my stomach cramps got bad again and I needed another pit stop but was not willing to sacrifice the time so I tried to run through them. As I slowed and struggled the old fart blew by me again and I could not respond. I struggled for the next 5 km but finally the cramps started to ease as I left the town and headed for the Sea again. Around 30 Km another old fart caught me but I could see he was hurting. He asked me what age group I was in and seemed happy when I said “M 60”. He replied that he was only 55 and since we were not competing he was going to drop behind me for a while.

That turned out to be a blessing because I soon became annoyed with the sounds of his footsteps riding up my ass! The weather had cooled some and the cramps had eased so I decided to push the pace and left him behind quickly. My faster pace soon pulled me within sight of the old fart in front of me and I decided to catch him.
As we approached a water station near 32 Km he made a BIG mistake! He stopped and walked through the station and I continued to push. I caught him about 500 ft past the station but now we had a dilemma. If I took the lead he was sure to respond and I wasn’t sure if I had enough left for a serious duel/pissing match for the final 10 Km? My first thought was to see if it was necessary?
I asked him what age group he was in? He replied “M 60”! Damn, Double damn! All I could reply was “Oh Shit – so am I”!

I made a tactical decision – one that was both risky and dangerous! I lowered the hammer and my pace well below 5 min/Km (8 min/mile) and held it for the next 5 km in the hope that I could bury him – or at least discourage him from responding. I didn’t even dare look behind me for fear that if I saw him staying on my ass I would become discouraged and give up! Only when I reached the water station at 37 Km did I dare to sneak a look behind me. I had built up a lead of almost ¼ mile. I eased off the pace a wee bit until I hit the edge of town at 40 Km and sneaked another look. The lead was still ¼ mile with only 2 Km left. I knew I had him so I cruised to the finish line in 3:38:47.

As soon as I crossed the finish line and stopped the stomach cramps became severe again and I also became nauseous so I headed straight to a toilet not knowing which end was going to offer relief? I must have been in there a long time because eventually a local runner knocked on the door of the toilet to ask if I was OK and to say I was wanted at the finish area. I stumbled over to the finish line where I was invited to stand on a podium and receive a beautiful crystal glass award for winning the Senior Division. Maybe all the pain was worth it after all?

Fortunately while I waited for Tad to finish (4:40) the stomach cramps eased and I started to feel much better. I asked some runners if we could eat in Lottorp after 10 pm. Unfortunately all the restaurants closed at 10 pm as they did in Kalmar so it looked like we would not get any food after the race. We couldn’t even have a beer because Sweden has a Zero tolerance law for alcohol. So we had to make the long drive back to Kalmar without food or beer! We arrived in Kalmar about midnight and parked the car and went hunting for a beer. We were lucky to stumble across a grill/fast food stand that served us a greasy hamburger and fries and then we went to the city square for a beer. It was still quite warm so we sat at an outdoor café and enjoyed a few beers (at $8/beer) while watching scenery similar to that shown in that slide show I sent you before the trip. Yes – the scenery was that good!

But after two beers our old bods were wasted and it was time to collapse and sleep. On Sun it was time to take a train back to Copenhagen and begin 3 days of R& R.
I arrived in CPH around 5 pm and after checking into the hotel I searched out a good restaurant to enjoy that celebration dinner that I never got in Sweden. I enjoyed a delicious dinner in Nyhavn (New Harbour – established in 1671) – very good but also very pricey as is everything in CPH!

On Mon I took a standard city tour to reacquaint me with the layout of CPH and its tourist sites (the Royal Palace, Rosenborg Have, the Little Mermaid, etc) and then I explored the city on foot. CPH is a beautiful city that is very compact and easy to get anywhere on foot. But the best scenery can be enjoyed from a sidewalk café as they pass by on bikes and on foot. On Tue I kept my promise to my readers and went to a beach in Amager Strand. It was not a great beach day with temps in the 70s and a brisk breeze but there was still some nice scenery on the beach. However I cannot share the photos with you unless I receive a release form signed by your partner (or your mother)!

And finally on Wed I departed CPH for Greenland. That is the topic of my next report.

Stay tuned.