Robin Bryson: Masters Win 2002

 

World Masters, Innsbruck 2002

 

Report by Robin Bryson

 

For Luka Bloom the day began with a rainbow on the sand as he cycled into Kerry. At 6am in Igls, the day began with a bowl of muesli as I cycled through the channels. On Austrian TV you can check out fixed cams from mountain tops. At Patscherkofel 9.2km away and 1,044m above the temperature is 6oC and the wind speed zero. No problems there, then. Nothing to do but do nothing slowly.

 

Us young, old gits were due away at 10am followed at half-hour intervals by successively older gits in 5-year age groups. Everybody from M40 to M70+ and W35 to W55+.

 

Some universal truths: - Race times increase by about 0.5% per annum. Angle of leg bandiness increases by about 0.25% per annum. Hair loss in males is exponential with age. Determination to win decreases by not one percentile between 35 and 80. No matter how good the form you never feel good before a big race.

 

At 9.20am it’s a relief to begin the warm-up. Slow jog, 10 minutes steady, some strides, half-hearted stretch, change the hoofs, think positive, approach the start line from the course side so that when the gun goes I'm facing the wrong way. Oops!

 

Fortunately, it's wide enough early on and before 2kms is run there's a group of 4 breaking away and thankfully I'm in it. At 3 kms the Pole vaults briefly to the front and in covering his move I find myself assuming the lead. The Italian is making odd groaning noises and Colin Donnelly is looking rough because he hasn't shaved in a week. It's earlier than intended, but I decide to exert some pressure. At 4 kms the lead is tentative. At 6 kms it's still only about 50m and not entirely convincing. After 7 kms it begins to grow until with less than 1 km to go it's about a zag and two zigs. Briefly, I remember losing a similar gap at Gap but this time I'm in control. With 500m to go I start to relax and enjoy it and it's bloody marvellous, it really is.

 

After that, it's all downhill. Back at Igls I fall in with a bad lot of good sorts from New Zealand. Some grosse beer vom fass and we wander up to the prize giving. The medals are accompanied by rousing music, several grosse beer, national anthems and done in reverse order. I'm last up and really wish I had a silly hat. The New Zealanders are replaced by an even worse lot of Celts of all hues. The evening passes with tales of derring do, trials of strength and Danny Hughes loses his glasses. At midnight, a singsong begins with a coach party from Kilkenny. Much later things turn a little surreal. In the rain, I walk a long way up the hill to wait in a deserted hotel lobby in order to share a taxi back down the hill with a Scotsman. We catch a train, which turns out to be a bus, to Salzburg. At 6 a.m. I'm sitting dazed in the Airport looking up at the TV monitor. At Patscherkofel the temperature is 6oC and the wind speed zero. Has this all been one of those vivid pre-race dreams? I stand up to make sure I'm awake. I look down and I'm sure my legs have got bandier. In consternation, I scratch my head and some hair falls out. In my pocket there's a lump. I reach in, feel something hard and pull on it. Out comes the medal.

 

Sometimes dreams come true!

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