I’m back in my fatherland, tired enough, and surprisingly quite healthy.
In the next few articles I’m going to try, my dear readers, to describe the whole X-pyr, my struggle with the bloody weather, with myself and you know… this kind of stuff. There will be quite much of it because, as you will read, it was something incredible so it is worth writing few words about that. Anyway, I will try to avoid writing about whom, where and what I ate or how I taped my shanks with a plaster because it’s cool.
Briefings, signing, paperwork and things like this are over, it’s the last night before the contest and I’m sitting in the camp, as well as many other competitors. I’m pretty excited, damn it! Great contest ahead of me, for me the most superb one so far! How it will turn out? Will I be able to get even to the first turning point through the town? What will my messed up meniscus do? I was sitting on my ass almost one and a half month doing pretty much anything, I didn’t train, won’t I finish too soon? A bunch of other bullshits is crossing my mind, but there’s no time for that… At eleven 31 guys from all over the world are standing in the sand of the Spanish Hondaribia beach in the Bay of Biscay up to their ankles, shuffling around like chicken on a muddy yard and if it wasn’t enough, they are melting like cheap polish ice cream since it’s more than 30 degrees. But the countdown starts and it sends shivers down my spine and my head turns off!
GO, GO, GO!
Few jumps through the slippery, sandy crap mixed with probably thousands of crushed shells and on the first asphalt road I take off the plastic bags from my shoes (so that the sand doesn’t get into them). I run through the town along the route we had checked the day before and I’m first. After some time, the crowd is getting separated, but I want to run at least 10-12 km through the town. I’ve chosen not the shortest way, but for me personally the best one, in the shade as much as possible.
When my route crosses the route of others, I’m probably 10 minutes after the first group. Well, but at least I didn’t get heatstroke… I go on only at a faster walking pace, through the real Spanish countryside, here and there a house or a cow, fences everywhere and winding roads. Ascent to the first turning point, Larhunne, the elevation is more than nine hundred meters. We’re hurrying together with Marek, my support, up the hill and to be honest, I’ quite done. I can’t .
First turning point, some photos, millions of people and so on. I see the first three guys already in the air, so I unpack my stuff, too. It blows from the NE, what is bad, you know, too stable air and headwind at the same time. It was better the days before, breeze, clouds in 1,000- 1,200 m, thermals 3-4 m/s, but now? Dull, stable air and headwind. I see that behind me there will be no one for a long time, so I jump into the Spanish-French air all alone (TP1 is on the boarder ridge of ESP-FR).
After few kilometres I’m nailed down to the ground by the wind, well never mind, I’m rushing up the hill to relaunch. I see others just taking off from the TP1 but they bomb out and are falling down like the rouble exchange rate. I find a place as low as possible and at the same time as high as possible, so that the take off will allow me to climb into the dull sky. The take of is one meter longer than my Avax, and therefore, yes, I fall down like an average Slovak university student after a dorm party, well, no response at all. Thud from a one-meter-high precipice… well my head starts to cook a bit ‘cause I drank all my water and everything around here is dry, even the “guaranteed” springs.
In such “cooked” conditions I take off next to Krysta (CZE) and Williams (USA), we’re wriggling in the weak thermals together. Jessie jumps backwards and me with the Czech mate, we both waver a bit. After a jump over a quite woody valley we climb a bit, but the wind is nailing us down to the ground. I landed as high as possible, into creepy and bloody ferns, which at first looked fluffy, but the opposite was true. Beast I have seen never before are hidden in that ferns. I’m so scratched that it’s bad to look at but worse to feel. I will never ever risk flying in shorts again, I swear by God as I ascent.
I’m literally cooking in my own skin, my visual field is narrowed and I have a headache. I’m weak as the weakest tea can be and there is not a sign of a spring. Support is still far away. Damn it!! I’m on my last legs, but two minutes before my body shuts down, I spot something… Yes it’s a spring. I’m saved! I’m so thirsty, that Moses and Israelites didn’t experience this kind of thirst during their 40-day track across the desert, I guess. I quench my thirst with the icy water, drench my head, as well as the whole body, so that I get cooled a bit and there comes my support. I sit half an hour or so, put myself together and there we go, up the hill. I have no idea about the elevation, but it’s pretty steep. Below the summit we meet Gerald Gold, Xapls athlete. We talk with him a bit and we fly together. I was the first one to fly just over the trees and land in a decent lee and up a hill; it’s become a kind of unwritten rule.
We pack quickly since we met here Krysta and some other guys. I rush into the saddle, at first along the trail, then across the ferns with the hidden bonus, prickling lovers , Karamba! I’m as excited and full of energy, as though I haven’t been running with my backpack the whole day, haven’t climbed three mountains and walked or run more than 20 km. Well, this contest is a big deal. Finally, I managed to perform a feat daring-do, as my support called it. Take off at 21:08 and landing exactly 56 seconds before the last possible landing time (21:14:04, if you’re later than 21:15 you get penalised). All the other guys stayed behind me in the saddle, cursing, similar to me, when taking my Avax from the ferns. I’d rather don’t talk about that.
My last steps are accompanied with the thoughts of the next morning before I reach a kind of hill. There I build my premium GOTLAND1, which kept me company and protected my body in Africa and Nepal and I swear by it.
After the evergreen of the contest cuisine – pasta with everything possible and impossible – and with my legs cured with horse chestnut cream, I’m lying down on my XT… the first camping air mattress which allowed me to sleep through the whole night, since my bony body can walk, climb and fly from dawn until dusk, but from dusk until dawn it wants to lie nicely in warm and fluffy “bed”!
Day summary: 30 km walked or run, 30 km flown, elevation 1,800 m.