Monday, July 9, 2012

Coming Down

off of that high that follows an exceptionally good race.  On 7 July 2012 I participated in the sixth running of the thüringenULTRA.  I’m excited to report that the TU is among the top events I’ve participated in this year.

Precipitation peaks in Germany in the summer months with humidity levels high and chances of daily afternoon showers.  July 2012 was no exception.  During the last few days leading up to the TU, Race Director Gunter Rothe reported steady rainfall, mud and the occasional downed tree over the course of the TU.  The weather forecast for 6 – 7 July called for thunderstorms into the evening of 6 July and sunshine on Saturday.  As things turned out we enjoyed moderate temperatures and largely overcast skies throughout much of the day with late afternoon sunshine – perfect conditions for a 100KM race in central Germany.

Hosted by Lauffeuer Fröttstädt the thüringenULTRA is a challenging 100KM ultra with its start and finish in the small village of Fröttstädt, Germany.  The race course passes along a circular route through the Thüringer-Wald  traversing the Rennsteig on two occasions; and running over 2150 heart pounding meters of elevation change.  Lauffeuer also offers two team relay races (two-man x 50KM or four-man x 25KM) as part of the overall event.  There was a good turn out for all of these events this year.

Initial reports show that there were 192 runners that started the 2012 TU with 183 finishers.  The overall winner was Marcus Baldauf running an 8:42:50 with Ines Melzer winning the women’s category with in 11:02:10.  Gunter’s 2012 changes to the race course nor the days of rain prior didn’t seem to slow the field even though these changes included some challenging climbs.  I actually prefer the new route as it keeps you in the woods longer; moving over forest trails and single track.

As in past years the race volunteers that supported the 2012 TU in the race start and finish area, backside support and at each of the check/support points were simply fantastic.  The sixteen support points were outstanding with a virtual cornucopia of beverages and food.  Selections included pretzel sticks/rings, buttered toast, chocolate, liverwurst on toast, apple slices, bananas, water, tea, soup broth, isotonic sports drink, cola and beer among much more.  I usually struggle with the overwhelming amount of sweets offered at many races.  With its wide variety and plentiful selection the thüringenULTRA is the best supported event I’ve run.

A special thanks goes out to Team 95 at the support point at 95KM.  Team 95 provided the highlight of my 2012 TU!  Running down the road to be greeted by name and then to hear, as requested AC/DC’s “For Those About to Rock” was absolutely fantastic!  Any physical pain or negative mental chatter I was having was literally blown away by these guys.  Team 95 carried me over the last 5K of the race with a smile on my face and memories of an incredible day!

Race logistics are spot on.  A description of the event, news and much more are located on the ThüringenULTRA web site.  Participation in the 100K event is very afforable particullarly with early registration.  Registration is possible on-line via SPORTident and in 2012 cost between 45 and 60 Euros (price increases as the race date draws near) for the 100KM event.  The registration fee included a starter packet, pre-race pasta meal and beverage, chip rental, finisher t-shirt, certificate and post-race meal.  There are lodging options for all tastes and needs within the Fröttstädt area.  In the past we’ve stayed in local hotels.  This year I tried camping in the start/finish area and am delighted to report that it was great.  Getting to Fröttstädt is relatively easy via ground, rail or air.  Specific travel information is available via the TU web site.

Each year the small club of Lauffeuer virtually doubles the population of Fröttstädt by more than 400 people with its ThüringenULTRA.  The TU includes a small starter field, is fast paced, and is a very well organized and hosted 100KM ultra event.  Gunter and Co. count me for my fifth star in 2013!

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