|Austria and Australia|
Apparently the original local organising committee had not paid the hotels, tried to move the race to September with less than 2 weeks to go and had to be replaced by FIDAL, the Italian Athletics organisation. I even heard rumours that the original organisers had been arrested for fraud but I have no idea if that is correct. I do, however, have full admiration for the way FIDAL stepped in at extremely short notice and pulled the race out of the fire at the last moment.
With the hotel situation resolved I thought the drama was finally over and I could be looking forward to a couple of nice and quiet days before the race. Oh boy.
We arrived in Turin on Thursday morning after a disgustingly early flight from Stansted. My joy of meeting Jan Uzik was immediately tempered when he told me he was injured and would not be able to run. He was only going there to support his Slovakian team mates. On the shuttle bus to the hotel my stomach hurt, which I put down to hunger pangs because breakfast had been many hours ago. I did not have much appetite at lunch time but made myself eat anyway because I knew I would need every ounce of energy. Things rapidly went downhill over the next couple of hours and then I spent the rest of the afternoon either wrapped around the toilet or doubled over in bed with excruciating stomach pains. Niamh insisted that the room temperature was hot but I was shivering, feeling extremely cold, but I did not seem to have a temperature.
At dinner time I went to the meal hall and tried to force some food into me but as soon as I started smelling the food I had to make a rapid exit or it would have been a very unsavoury scene. For some reason I walked up the two flights of stairs to our room instead of taking the elevator and by the time I reached our floor I was dizzy and almost fainted, took some downtime and literally crawled into our room.
|Last minute preparations.|
Photo by Martin Mayrhofer
By dinner time my appetite was back to normal and for the first time in what felt like an eternity I dared to hope that everything might turn out alright after all. I slept for 6 hours that night - about 5 more than I could usually hope for the day before such a massive race. Another decent breakfast confirmed that I was seemingly back to normal, though how my body would cope with the extreme requirements I was about to subject it to was yet to revealed. I still had a light lingering headache but mostly managed to completely ignore that. Both my own Austrian team mates as well as my Irish friends joked about it and figured that the 3 pounds I might have lost during that ordeal might be to my advantage now - less weight to carry around for the next 24 hours.
I paid a last-minute visit to the GB tent to have a chat with Marco Consani, otherwise John Kynaston would have given out to me for not saying hello to his mates yet again. Nice guy! His better half was still busy and I decided to leave her alone. Not everyone wants to chat to some random guy they had never met before when they are about to start a World Championship.
|Getting last minute encouragement.|
Photo by Martin Mayrhofer
Ultra running is not an Olympic sport and the World Championship is the absolute pinnacle of it all. Somehow, don't ask me how, I had made it all the way to here.
The biggest day of my running life was about to begin,