Monday, June 19, 2017
Mozart100 is an interesting addition to UTWT. It's not a new event, but the course is new. For the full 105km they now offer 4,700m elevation gain in one loop. The altitude is under 1,500m so no adaptation is necessary. I decided to give Salzburg a try.
The start/finish is at the historic town centre. It was convenient stroll to the 5am sunrise start from my 800-year-old hotel room. Altstadt hasn't changed that much since Mozart. Salzburg makes one feel young in comparison.
They checked the obligatory gear: a cup/bottle and a whistle. I chose to add foldable poles in my 125g vest. A headlamp was required as well, but we were allowed to leave it in our drop bag.
I put also some other stuff in the bag we could access at 33 and 75km. However I never needed any of it as the organizers took such a good care of us and the weather stayed ideal all day.
300 runners had plenty of space on the streets of Salzburg on early Saturday morning. The first 12km was easy until the first aid station. My problem was they were so well-stocked and accommodating that I wanted to stay forever.
When I finally said goodbye the gravity of the situation hit me. I quickly calculated that at this rate I wouldn't be able to run through the remaining eight aid stations within cutoffs. I was in an obstacle race with a twist: here the obstacles were treats.
Before the race I had worried the course might be too easy for me. Luckily that wasn't the case at all. Chatting with Mozart veterans, they testified this new course was much tougher. With one monster mountain in the middle and three beast hills to boot, finishing was going to take guts and Red Bull.
In Austria they drink Red Bull instead of water. It's like putting gas in the tank. It also tastes like gas. The solution came to me in the form of Red Bull Cola. I kept gulping it down while moving on steadily and not stopping for too long for any reason.
I don't know why but everyone seemed very friendly and talkative all day. Maybe the beer had something to do with it. Anyway the day went by smoothly. I had fun all the time. People seemed to be smiling and enjoying the lake scenery.
Almost too soon I found myself marvelling at glimpses of spectacular sunset over Salzburg on the last hill. I planned to finish in 16 hours and change, but they made me wait for the green light at a couple of intersections. Official timer stopped at 17:01:15. I'm pretty happy with that result, which placed me right in the middle of 200 finishers.
Mozart100 deserves congratulations for rising up to the challenge of producing a top-notch world class event. Their race organisation is superb with no shortage of brilliant individuals. I'm certainly tempted to race in Mozart City again in 2018 to see if I can race 100K against the sun and beat it too.
Friday, June 9, 2017
I grabbed Grit by Angela Duckworth at Oslo Airport to read on the plane. It's a book about what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that makes all the difference.
I found the chapter about culture particularly interesting. Finnish sisu is presented as an example of gritty identity. Finland seems to have forged a strong culture of grit.
Two powerful lessons can be extracted from Finnish sisu:
1. Thinking of yourself as someone who is able to overcome any adversity leads to behavior that confirms that self-conception.
2. It sometimes feels like we have nothing left to give, and yet if we keep on putting one foot in front of the other there is a way to accomplish what reason seems to argue against.
Could grit be the secret to success? According to this book yes, grit can be more important than talent or luck. But now it's not a secret anymore.