Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Maintal – Ultratrail (MTUT) 2016

The third annual running of the Maintal–Ultratrail knocked it out of the park!  24 September arrived with fog and low, but ideal temperatures, for an end of summer ultratrail event among the vineyards and trails of the Main River Valley.  As Saturday unfolded weather conditions simply could not have been better with warm temperatures and lots of sunshine; ideal conditions for a phenomenal 65KM trail race through the Franconian Wine Country.
The course of the MTUT is a tasty mix of single track trail, farm, forest and vineyard paths.  No, there are no mountains in Franconia, but the MTUT’s 1690 meters (5544 feet) of elevation change are something to relish.  The course offers cracking single track downhill and some long pulls up that if you hit them just right the sun and elevation will work you over like a demanding mother-in-law.  The MTUT is no day at the spa friends!
I’m not certain how many runners actually started the 2016 MTUT.  There were however, eighty-five finishers.  The finishers were split between twenty women and sixty-five men.  Of the women, Silke Kiel took first place with a finish in 7:31:19.  Among the men, Patrick Gensel took first place in 5:57:54.  It was refreshing to see this turn out of female runners!

I was fortunate enough to tag along with two friends over much of the MTUT.  Saturday morning I joined Andreas and Harald who had camped the night prior in Veitshoechheim.  We started and finished the day laughing.  Harald traditionally starts each of his races as the last place starter and works his way back up through the running field.  The thought of this brings the Talking Heads song “Psycho Killer” to mind.  What a mind trip for both Harald and the runners he passes.  Andreas and I started together with me serving as a boat anchor for him throughout.  Yep, he’s much faster than I and other than my good looks and being such a good conversationalist I’m not certain why he hung with me throughout the day.

Of course Harald caught up with us just shy of the last Aid Station!  “Psycho Killer” is playing in my head again!  We continued our odyssey together for the rest of the race coming in thirty-third.
 (Always mindful of the time!!!!)

At the finish line we were each greeted with an ice cold alcohol free Hefeweissen.  Wow!  That hit the spot!  As you might imagine the spot was rather deep and we spent the next couple of hours relaxing on the green behind the finish line drinking Weissen, eating grapes and cake and enjoying the afternoon.        

The MTUT Race Headquarters, start and finish are all located at the Veitshoechheim Sport Club.  The facilities are simple, but very adequate with plenty (this is important) of toilets and lots of grass to hang out on and drink beer after the race.

I’ve heard that the MTUT may shift its run date from September to mid-July.  For what it’s worth, my vote is to leave the MTUT at the second to last Saturday in September.  The weather is generally wonderful during this time of year, grapes are in harvest and there are very few other events of this magnitude during this timeframe.  A shift to July brings the threat of much higher temperatures as well as, surprisingly, more chances of rain.

Big thanks to Thomas Gumpert (RD) and his entire team for such a challenging, yet rewarding event.  The volunteers and supporters were exceptional throughout the event.  You all put on a sensational race.  I look forward to enjoying the MTUT again.

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