Steyr Stadtgut Ultra Running Event 2013
Austria is a country I’d known for its culture, and its beautiful mountains.  To this I can now add that it also hosts some incredible races, and has hospitality that is second to none.

Steyr is a pretty village situated on the banks of the blue Danube. Many friends, from sponsors UVU racing have strong links with Austria, including owner Gerhard Flatz, and fellow athlete and World Record holder Rainer Predl.  Donnie Campbell and I jumped at the chance to take part in the IAU event, Donnie taking on the 100km, while I ran the World Series Trophy event which was run over 50km.

Part of why I run is to see a bit of the world, and meet new friends in the Ultra Running community putting themselves through the same ordeal of running until they are extremely tired.  Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you are put firmly in your place.

Simon Josy of Luxembourg, completed the 100km in 12 hrs 17, on a course that would be tricky to produce personal bests given 72 tight hairpins on the way round. For anyone to run a 100km race is a significant achievement, but to do this at the age of 80, and take a bite out of the World Record in this age group was well worth the standing ovation Simon received.

2013 has seen great progress by my good friend Donnie Campbell, who added the 100km trophy here to his growing list of success, taking the course record to boot. Rainer ran strongly but succumbed to a foot injury having raced only 2 weeks ago.  For my part I chose the 50km, as it was part of 8 races that comprise the World Trophy Series. I was apprehensive going into the event, due to a knee injury, and sure enough 25km in it started to sting. I’d built up a lead at 35km and from there it was simply a question of holding on- by the end it felt as if I’d been shot in the knee- getting the win was perfect but to be honest I was just glad to finish.

What keeps you going when things are tough are the smiles and the cheers of fellow competitors, and spectators.  The level of crowd support was second to none, in what is one of the best organised races in Europe. Things I was offered on my way round included the usual running food, along with perhaps the less conventional running fuels of Jaggermeister, Pretzels, and giant Hot Dogs- all of which I left for the finish. The event is organised by runners, for runners, and this shows with the precise way that things are thought out and the enthusiasm of the many many relay runners and kids supporting excellent local charities.

Why do we run. Is it for health? To clear the head? Or to compete?  For me it’s about spending time with incredible people and seeing fantastic things. In the last year, I’ve raced the Antarctic Ice Marathon, ran 7 ultras on the 7 continents in under a week, run across East Africa with Donnie, and raced in Scotland and in Ireland. My knee is telling me it needs a break so I’ll take it easy for a couple months, and perhaps get on the bike. Thanks to many new friends in Austria, and especially to Benny and all at UVU Racing and Merrell for their support in 2013