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Salzkammergut Trophy Extreme 2015




MTB Marathon


Bad Goisern/Austria


The race as a whole:


The catering:


The fitness level:


The technical level:



Salzkammergut Trophy Extreme

Of all the distances on offer at the Salzkammergut Trophy in Bad Goisern in Austria, it was the Extreme distance of 211km and 7049m of climbing with its limited edition black T-shirt which caught my attention in 2013. Back then I was riding a Carbon 26" full suspension and had a finishing time of 14:38:10 in good weather. I felt back then that I was over geared. In 2014 I rode a 29er hard tail. With lower gearing I hoped that I'd handle the climbs better, which I did, unfortunately the weather wasn't as favourable as the year before with a wet start, low cloud and extremely slippery technical sections and I managed a similar time to the year before.

This year the climbing had been increased to 7114m and the bike I was riding was a combination of the previous two years, a 29er full suspension. Although it’s a little heavier my thought was that it should allow me to make up more places on the technical sections, hopefully without the consequences of the Alpen Tour Trophy where I punctured on the first descent.

Even though I'd finished the event twice before I wasn't taking anything for granted and as with most endurance events of such epic proportions the first goal is always to finish and then followed by enjoyment and completing it with body and bike remaining intact.

The race starts at 5am which for me means an alarm set for 3am and breakfast. This early alarm would also allow me to get to the start before the masses, last year I was on the line half an hour before the start and was far enough forward to not be too held up at the first technical climb. This year with an increased field from 700 to 800 I seemed further back than 2014 which didn't worry me too much as it's a long day in the saddle.

It wasn't long before we were spread out on the first big climb of the day, Raschberg which has over 800m of climbing. As soon as the climb became technical many riders struggled with the rocky section which in turn forced me off to push my bike. This is why it was important to get near the front.

On the downhill sections especially the more technical single track I regained many of the places I'd lost on the initial climb. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxteiu7dtos

Up until 150km I'd remained inside the top 200 in all but one of the checkpoints along the way. Up to this point I felt really good, I felt that I'd paced myself conservatively and even though I had a little discomfort in my left ankle and leg I wasn't too concerned and put it down to a fall I'd had a couple of weeks before. Despite the discomfort I was more than happy the way things were gong. On Salzberg I managed to ride up the further than ever before, but it wasn't long after this that a new pain and discomfort came on. I had a pain in my left hip flexor and I felt sick. I became increasingly concerned when I stopped sweating and it was then that I wondered if I would finish. Forcing myself to drink, it was a relief when I started sweating again. Still feeling really hot and sick all I had in my mind was swimming in the river that ran through the campsite. The pain in my hip remained and became so painful that even lifting my leg to 'clip in' became an effort.

With the nausea and an increasingly painful hip I really doubted I would finish. There was around 40km to go and two big climbs. I resigned myself to walking the majority of the last two climbs. There were many of us walking and pushing our bikes, but I was by far the slowest as I limped one painful step after another and I vowed that I'd never do this distance again. The descents weren't much fun either due to the sickness I felt. I felt cold and goose bumps covered my bare skin as the temperature dropped to the lower 20's.

Heading downhill towards the last feed station about 20km from the finish I decided I was going to have to stop for a while, see how I felt and maybe seek assistance. I forced some cola down and after sitting there for around 15 minutes or so with the sound of thunder all around I decided to push on knowing the course undulated a little and had plenty of easy road sections where I could freewheel.

The threatening storm finally came and the rain started, whether it was the thought of getting caught in a heavy storm, the ease in terrain or the cola something certainly gave me the impetus to pick up my pace and I realised that I was probably going to make it! I felt better than I had for the past 3 hours and even managed to pass half a dozen or so riders on the run into town. Because of the storm many of the marshals had been pulled from their posts, fortunately I recognised most of the way from the past two years.

It was with great relief that crossed the line in a time of 15:17:25 and was glad to see my supportive wife Lisa. I was quite pleased with the time which wasn't too bad considering what I'd endured. Due to the darkness caused by the storm it felt much later than it was. Of the 800 starters only 418 managed to finish. Sadly many were prevented from continuing at the last feed station because of the storm and in retrospect I was lucky to set off from there before I was forced to stop.

Reaching the campsite cold and wet all I wanted to do was get my bike put away, shower have a cup of tea and go to bed, I still felt as sick as ever.

The next morning my stomach felt fine and I was able to eat something.By the time the afternoon came and I had chatted with others that had suffered through the heat of the day I was thinking about next year and what I'd do differently...How quickly we forget the pain and suffering, all thoughts of the shorter distance had gone, but first of all I have to get my body sorted.

To end on a positive note, the race is fantastically organised and well signposted with a great atmosphere. There are plenty feed stations and tech zones around the course as well as easily accessible points for personal support should you need it. The information provided for the support teams is brilliant with the best locations and approximate times of arrival provided on a detailed map. The information at the finish line is great too. My wife was a little concerned about my being so overdue and discovered that there's a possibility to find out from the information point when a rider went through each one of the many timed check points. There's camping provided at the sports ground in Bad Goisern which has a great atmosphere, however if you opt for a hotel I would advise you to book early, many riders have already booked for next years race.

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