WC 100km (Gibraltar)

Ultrarunning is a small sport practised and organised mostly by amateurs. The 24th IAU world 100km championships suffered a lot from that amateurism. I am usually quite proud of being an amateur, in a XIXth century kind of way. But this time, the word 'amateurism' is to be interpreted in its usual, pejorative way.

Initially, however, things looked very professional. The local organising committee seemed to have learned from the disasterous World 50km trophy which they had organised in 2009, when the course was measured just minutes before the start and the athletes were housed in a filthy dump of a hostel. One year later, we were staying in a truly luxurious yacht. The quality of the catering was top notch and everybody was looking forward to a great race. But almost immediately after the start of the race, everything fell apart.

The course consisted of one short introductory loop followed by 24 longer loops through Gibraltar's city centre. Apparently, the course marshalls weren't informed of this, because just ten minutes into the race, they sent us into the wrong direction, back to the start for a second short loop, causing a lot of confusion and delay.

The organisers attempt to 'fix' this gaffe by shortening the 11th lap partially failed, causing some athletes to run two 'shortened' laps, for which they were subsequently disqualified. Due to this error, the Russian team were denied their bronze medal in the European championships.

The automatic time registration didn't work properly, resulting in my 17th lap not being recorded, and the Swedish women's champion and record holder having to run an extra lap. Fortunately for me, I had several eye witnesses who could verify that I had indeed completed the 17th loop.

In the end, it all didn't matter because I badly cocked up myself. I felt stronger than ever before during the first half of the race, easily keeping up with the later winner as well as the European silver medal winner (see picture). I didn't feel my legs at all, and was already dreaming of medals and a new PB. But then my stomach started to trouble me. I couldn't eat or drink anything during the last 40km, causing me to lose a lot of time. I finished in a disappointing 7h15', still barely feeling any tiredness other than in my stomach.

Instead of criticising the amateurism of others, I'd better sort out my own problems. Shite.

With world Champion Shinji Nakadai (117) and European silver medal winner Oleksandr Holovnytskyy (183).

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