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Marathon Langenbrand 2004

This was the first race of the fantastic “Tälercup”-Series. The novelty being that it wasn’t a normal one-hour cross-country race but a 56 km/1860 m marathon event (4 laps on a 14 km circuit) with some parts of the original cross-country downhill sections.

Conditions: The weather (6° C and some rain) was pretty bad and the rains of the previous 5 days hadn’t really improved the racecourse. The meadows had become marshes with some tufts of grass floating on top. One section was named “The Everglades” - quite wrongly, though. The real Everglades are much, much warmer. The mud was about ten inches deep there. To illustrate just how tough the race was: 1/3 of all racers gave up!

The Race: 101 daring men and 2 audacious women started the race at 11 o’clock. Among them my brother David and my friends Sebastian, Thomas, Axel and Olaf. I felt pretty bad in the beginning but managed to keep up with some of the best riders on the first lap, quickly dropping Thomas, my major rival. The second lap went even better and I even managed to pass some professinals. On the third lap I “bonked” i.e. I had cramps in my stomach and my legs felt pretty weak. By then I was covered in mud and my glasses were completely opaque. On the first climb of the fourth and last lap, Thomas passed me and I was pretty sure that he would reach the finish line some minutes before me.

Nevertheless, I tried to keep him in sight as long as possible. I lost him for a while, but on one of the last climbs I felt a bit better and managed to catch up with him again. Our final fight was glorious. We changed positions several times, always looking for weaknesses and waiting for the opponent to make a mistake. I risked everything, crashed twice, finally managed to get away from Thomas and even passed two “senior class” riders on the way to the finish line. From certain defeat to victory - what a feeling! Under ideal circumstances, I could have done much better in the race, but then I would have missed this fantastic final fight and that would have been a great loss.

I finished the race in 3:11:59 (37th overall & 8th in my category) and Thomas in 3:12:28 (40th/9th), just 29 seconds behind me. Olaf had a time of 4:06:47 (68th/19th), Axel 4:10:42 (71st/17th) and David 4:14:23 (73rd/19th). Sebastian had given up after two laps like 25 other racers.

Here are some pictures