Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Pizolada 2013, the race

On 14th April 2013 a beautiful spring day, surrounded by the white snow covered Dolomite peaks of Val di Fassa, the 37th edition of the ski mountaineering race “Pizolada delle dolomiti” took place.

The 400 participants, grouped in 3 different categories, kicked off at 8:15 by the base station of Col Margherita cable car: among them was even a group of athletes from Catalunia Spain.

We challenged ourselves in the non-professional athletes category. Featuring a 1045m climb split in two uphill sections it is still not a challenge to be taken lightly. Setting our goals high for this year, we really just aimed to complete the race in one piece. At least this way we would not feel too bad if we finished last and it sets the challenge for next year!

Once the race started we quickly realised that we had no chance of finishing in the top… …20. They all took off the start line like a herd of dears chased by hungry wolves!

Giving up on that idea we set off at a decent pace, using others in our category as pace setters. The long and twisted first section, just over 4km long, took us from 1878m above sea level on a 650m uphill climb.

Our strategy quickly proved wrong:  following other more experienced racers sounds like a good idea in theory, using their experience to set our pace. We found out the hard way this only works if have very similar pace, otherwise it is a struggle all the way.

Strategy number two: do not look ahead, just concentrate on your own performance. At this point we were half way up the mountain tired and still had not found our own rhythm yet: time for a drink! It is amazing what those energy drinks can do for you, they really do work wonders!

At the summit we were welcomed by a wide choice of food and drinks all served by very friendly support staff. Shame we did not stop long enough to enjoy the view from up there, luckily the GoPro was recording ;-)

Time to take the skin off the skies, lock the boots, wind-proof jacket on, and off we went downhill like the wind. It is amazing how quickly you cover the ground that made you sweat so much uphill! The reward is always worth it.

In less than 5 minutes we arrived at the start of the second and final uphill section, another 395m climb. Second time lucky full of fresh energy, with the chocolate and warm tea in the blood stream, we set off on our final ascent. As we did that, we spotted the first professionals skiing down their third and final descent of the day, amazing!!

Back to the real world: 44 minutes of steady climbing took us to the second and last summit of the day. By this time the sun was high up in a beautiful blue spring sky. Very tempting to spend the rest of the day sunbathing up there…

From that point, the rest is history: descent down the black run to the finish line where we were greeted by friends and family and more importantly by a big cold drink!

Summary for the day: the winner of the first category completed the race (16.42km, 1725m climb) in just over 1hr30. In the non-professional group, the best time was 1hr15…

…we did it in over two, 2hrs30 to be precise! But we did it and have our time to beat for next year.

What more to say: it has been a great experience, fantastic atmosphere, excellent organization. We will certainly to it again next year!

One last thing: team Sky Bradley Wiggins, winner of last year’s Tour de France, showed up too! He is in the area training for the tour of Italy and decided to stop by for a break. Shame we did not manage to take any photos with him! Anyway, good luck to Bradley for this coming May.

Areal view of the race course

Altitude profile