The 2012 Salzkammergut Trophy lived up to the race’s traditionally dramatic script, with the extreme 211km (7,000m) race being taken out by Czech Ondrej Fojtik.
Early in the race it appeared the defending champion Wofgang Krenn from Lienz will be able to repeat his victory. After 80km, however, he called it a day due to illness.
“At the start and the first 2 hours I felt reasonable good,”said Krenn, who succumbed to a virus.
The race decided on the uphill
It turned into a battle of three men from three different countries: Dutchman Bart Brentjens; 4-time German Marathon Champion Max Friedrich; and Ondrej Fojtik pulled away together after Krenn withdrew. The trio’s battle would be decided on the crest up to Raschberg as well as to Rossalm, between Hallstatt und Gosau.
Fojtik crossed the finish line with a phenomenal time of 10 hours 37 minutes, on the main square of Bad Goisern, followed by Bart Brentjens at 7 minutes.
“It’s been extremely tough! At kilometer 150 I had some problems, and I’d lost hope of keeping up with the high tempo,” admitted Fojtik immediately after the race, before quickly seeking his warmth and shelter.
Goldi surrenders to the weather
Andreas Goldberger gave it a try on the extreme distance, but eventually pulled out after 135km.
“Until that point everything went to plan, however I didn’t want to take chances when the heavy rain started to come down,”he said, before confirming that he will definitely participate next year.“I will then most definitely finish the extreme 211km.”
Christoph Soukup wins on the 119-distance
On the B-distance (119km) the clear winner was Christoph Soukup from Berndorf. He was followed closely by Jukka Vastaranta, the 2011 Marathon-vice-European Champion in Kleinzell. Hermann Pernsteiner from Lower Austria put in an incredibly strong performance to take 3rd .
In the women category of the B-distance was won by the German Barbara Kaltenhauser, followed by Sabine Sommer and Verena Krenslehner.
The total number of participants was 3,824 hard core weather-proof biker of the anniversary edition of the Trophy.
The former road cyclist, Roberto Heras, who used to be a protagonist on the USPS team, lined up for the 110km distance seeking his odds there after his unfortunate experience last year on the 211km parcours. He voiced his frustration after not being able to deliver as he wanted to do.
“I knew from the get-go, that it’s not my day. I had a decent race a week ago, proper recovery and was psyched up before the race to do well,”said Heras, who would eventually finish 12th. “My heart rate stayed abnormally low and that didn’t bode well. I sufferedfrom the first kilometer and became a case of limiting my losses.
“It’s unfinished business for me, and maybe it is true that the Trophy really has its unwritten rules.”
My own experience
It was meant to be: my 15th Trophy enterprise went awry big time as I lined up with viral infection and fever before the race. And with 20 marathons this season I’ve been anything but fresh and up to the task. Despite this I had high hopes of a good performance – so the battle was half won.
The usual kick off at 5am with 600 hundred excited contenders. It was immediately obvious that I would have to take the race one mile at a time, and just go as hard as I could for as long as I could. There’s no rolling or coasting on this parcours, and it calls for a switch into ‘survival-mode.
After passing the 50km mark, though, my faith I could do the half distance grew. I accepted that I would be out of contention for the top end of the field and resigned myself to slow speed riding.
To make my misery complete, I flatted a couple of times even tough riding brand new tyres.
Despite the challenges I made up my mind to follow through till the bitter end. Sadly, my joint pains due to the fever had me stopping after 151km and see a doctor in the med-tent. By this time I had my fifth puncture. I asked for some painkillers and when the doc asked me why, I had to admit to the extent of my illness. He immediately took away my bike and insisted I stop riding. A heavy rain started to set in and I was barely staying on my own legs.
In hindsight I’m grateful for having been forced out, as I would have been unable to withdraw voluntarily. My fondness for the race certainly hasn’t been harmed, though. It is just an unfinished business, only 12 months to wait. Hopefully, I’ll be at full health… and applying common sense.