Powerade Suzuki MTB Marathon Krakow 28th August 2011

[Race Report by David Furlong]

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When the opportunity presented itself to have a weekend away in Krakow with my dear wife and have a go at the Suzuki Powerade Krakow mtb Marathon who was I to resist? And of course in my ongoing quest to be crowned 2011 Racing795 International Mountain Biker of the Year……I packed my bike and off I went……..

The Suzuki Powerade Krakow mtb Marathon http://mtb.webworld.pl/ is the ninth in a series of eleven mtb marathons taking place across southern Poland during the year. Mtb’ing and marathons in particular are very big in Poland, and with 30% of the country covered in forest there’s no shortage of places to go.. These races offer 3 distances – Giga (usually 100km) Mega (50-70km) and Mini (20km). I opted for the Mega as I didn’t want poor Joy to be sitting around waiting all day :) . Distance was 63km with 1300m climbing.

The week leading up to the race was stinking hot – low to mid 30’s. Luckily though it was forecast to break on Saturday night, which it duly did. A drop of rain also on Saturday night ruined my chances of competing in an mtb race in bone dry conditions for the first time.

Having pre-registered me and Joy headed for the start area to be ready to go at 11am. Amazingly the start was only 5 mins from our city centre hotel (think Phoenix Park). The setup was great, loads of tents and the like and loads of people milling around. I even had a go on the warm up spinning machines :D

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Around quarter to 11 I headed for the start – the amount of people!! Like a freakin Ryanair flight except this time I didn;t have no Priority Pass! We’re used to lining up with maybe 100 or so, so 650 was a bit of a sight!

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So off we went. I was a bit far back for my own liking so going into the first section of singletrack I was at the back of the mother of all goober trains. Anyway it was great crack scything my way through the pack with all the goobers floundering in the mud. Experience has told me that if you can stay on your bike especially on the technical ups you will save energy and consequently make up loads of ground. Like always, as the race progresses you get more into it and before long you are with people of similar ability. The race was fast with lots of linking sections on farm tracks and gravel roads. Then into forest singletrack with some technical ups and downs. I made up loads of places here, but the fast lads were really gunning it on the flats. I tried all the tricks ie drafting as much as I could. The pace of the race was high – I had covered 11km in the first half hour, so I knew it wasn’t going to take me the 4 – 4 1/2hrs I had estimated. The last feed station (Powerade, fig rolls, fresh and dried fruit) was at 47kms and I knew there was just one more serious hill at 55km, so feeling good I pushed on. Just one quick stop to phone Joy to tell her I’d be an hour early..! The final 5km or so were great. Swooping flowy singletrack, and by this stage I was in a train with 4 others all dicing for position, mighty crack!

In the end I crossed the line in 332nd out of 668 finishers in 3hrs 35mins. Happy enough with that, I always reckon if i’m halfway up the field I’m not doing too bad.

I really like these type of events. Yeah so it’s not 1 ½ hrs of technical stuff, but you can’t have that over the longer distances. But this is what attracts the masses – we need to cop on to this in Ireland if we are to attract big numbers to mtbing. This was a great mixture of tracks, road, forest and enough singletrack to make it interesting – and all from a city centre start. The organisation and buzz were great.

Big thanks to my one-woman support crew – we might have to make this a habit, now where’s the next one….

Results here: http://www.sportchallenge.cz/pl/vybrat_zavod/vysledky?id_zavod=1109&id_startovne=110902

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