Monday, June 22, 2009

Maratón Alpino Madrileño

So my first MAM is taken care of and what a race...I am having a really hard time in where to begin writing this post as it involves so many emotions from what I/we lived yesterday but I will give it a shot.This mountain marathon is truly an epic challenge on all levels and you will get to know yourself better than ever as you go through heaven and hell so many times during the course of this race.During the couple of training sessions we had done beforehand I felt pretty confident about it all but since we had only done 28km at most now taking on the whole thing with 44km was perhaps not a deep concern but certainly something I had deep respect for so when they let the 300 brave people go at 08:00 and I was full of energy and excitement. Me and the other members of UO2 (Mayayo and Pedro) had been writing down finishing times of what we thought would be possible. Mayayo wrote down 7 hours 33 minutes, Pedro 7 hours 35 minutes and I thought that if everything went perfect I would finish in 8 hours 10 minutes...

*Photo by Ana

The first part of the course is a pure uphill path through a beautiful forest. Its a bit steep at times but on the whole its a very pleasant beginning at least for what is to follow...I think I might have enjoyed the forest a bit too much as it turned out pushing it a bit too hard perhaps as I later was to suffer for that...

Once you get to through this initial part you are faced with a fierce alpine slope but up hill of course. The two times I have done this climb I have actually enjoyed it in some scewed way but I did not enjoy it as much this time...A grueling climb which takes the energy and will power out of most people, including me... The only thing you could do was to look down at your feet and take one step at the time really until you reached the top which I did in the end:)

*Photo by Mayayo

Moving on you have another little climb but pleasant in comparison where you reach Bola del Mundo which is some sort of huge tv antenna and we all know where they usually put those things...
Now finally a downhill but since I am crap at downhills, perhaps I do not enjoy them as much as I should as they are good moments to lower your pulse for the time being. La loma del Noruego is in theory a calm, easy little trail down the mountain but with rocks everywhere and two huge climbs in your legs already its not as wonderful as it might seem on paper...

I managed to reach Cotos anyways after some swearing and caution not to break any legs.
Through out the race my very helpful sister Ana with friends Juan Carlos and Mariejo followed our progress and took as many photos as they could and for that I am very grateful as it was also a grueling experience for them in the hot weather going around the mountains all day long.I ran into them at my first encounter with Cotos where I got a chance to eat the dry fruits, bananas and whatnot...Never been a fan of those things but after a couple of hours of running you basically eat or drink anything...

*Photo by Ana

Now the real tough part of the race started, the uphill towards the highest peak around Madrid, Peñalara at almost 2500m. From Cotos its an imense uphill first through forrest and then via Citores which is simliar to what the landscape on the moon looks like. Here I was suffering from the sun as I did not bring sun glasses nor a cap...not good at all I thought to myself and actually telling myself in Swedish loud and clear as no one would understand anyways. On my way up to the top I ran into Alex who is the neighbour and despite his troubles with injuries lately he seemed to be doing great. I reached the top, touched the mark and downhill I went again, yet again on my way down towards Cotos passing through what is called the two sisters. A dangerous downhill with lots of rocks everywhere and many possibilities of messing up your feet or knees among other things

On my way down is when my first doubts started to appear in my head, could I really finish this monster...The pain also started to appear on my way down and my tough opening was starting to haunt me and reaching Cotos for the second time I was in trouble as I was suffering pretty bad and my sister also noted that I was not in the best of shape but this is where "talent" for suffering, willpower, commitment, determination and perhaps a sane dose of stupidity comes in handy:)

*Photo by Ana

*Photo by Ana

From this point I now had 2km before the toughest part of the course in front of me...The climb to the peak of Cabezas...1.5 km (only) but with an elevation of 550 m which gives a percentage of approximately 33% in elevation profile to give an idea...As if that was not enough its done all the way on rocks, small as huge and I hope the photo and videos gives you an idea of what it is like...

This climb is just out of this world and it is really hard to find the adequate words to describe it.I had to look deep inside to carry on, despite the occasional pain and cramps. Look down at my feet and one step at the time until reaching the top. Once up there it is an incredible mental rush looking back down soaking up what you have just managed to put yourself through.
Next part is la Cuerda Larga which is like a connection to Bola del Mundo once again, all above the altitude of 2000m. A truly beautiful place and still occasional snow at some places. Once again suffering like hell and feeling very down at times but a bit of water and some snacks and some swedish swearing and you keep going, up and down up and down...At this point I also ran into Zerolito and we basically manage the same pace even though in the end of this part I had severe trouble keeping up. It is funny how you at some points in the race feel in great spirits and even consider pushing it as you think you can do an amazing finishing time and then one hour later you even doubt if you can finish it at all and you just want to crawl across that finish line...The mind is one incredible tool. How you can disguise all the pain and mental distress you go through just by setting your mind to it:)

Reaching the control at Bola del Mundo we had now done all of the uphills and now we only had two massive downhills left. That gives you a lot of energy knowing that some way or the other you will finish...
The first hill was however a pure super G downhill and even though I suck at skiing I wished I had a pair at that point because going down in shoes on those rocks was pretty darn dangerous with occasional falls.Finally reaching Puerto de Navacerrada Me and Zerolito stopped for some drinking at the control but I knew that if I stopped for too long my legs would not benefit so I had a quick zip and off I went again for the last 8 km. This last part went through the same beautiful forest where we had first started the race and thats also something very encouraging recignizing parts knowing that you are almost home...
There was one last control 4km before the finish line but I only stopped briefly for the same reasons as before and give the last 4 km my max and when I came out on the last stretch a man told me that once you see the downhill approcahing you have 200 m to go!!! I cannot express the happiness and what those words meant to me...I sprinted to my utmost ability and actually reached a speed of 20km/h which perhaps was not the best of ideas as all the camera attempts to catch a 194 cm tall skinny swede running at the speed of light was not optimal but who cares in the end:)Crossing the finish line all the emotions come tumbling down and you really do come close to tears knowing that you made it. Also taking into account that I managed to finish the race in 7 hours and 29 minutes just adds to the experience as it was far better than I could have ever imagined:)

*Photo by Ana

*Photo by Alex

*Photo by Ana

On a personal note I think it was a truly amazing day that encompassed so many things at once: pride, companionship, suffering, joy, accomplishment, you name it...
I also have to mention a couple of people of whom I feel very proud and that I feel happy to have experienced this race with. Mayayo of course with his new personal record of 6 hours 38 min, an incredible accomplishment. Pedro who managed the 6 hours 23 minutes and it makes me speechless really. Zerolito who finished the race around the same time as I did and whom helped me to push myself at times when I thought I could not. Alex for having the guts to take on the challenge despite having the body troubled by injuries, Aspen for having twisted his ankle at quite an early stage of the race still managed to push through running uphill and walking downhill and finishing with an incredible time under those circumstances and last but definately not least Velayos...Uffff what can I say really. Here you have a man who was suffering dearly during our training sessions and we even doubted if he would be at the starting line in the end, but he had a plan:) and despite the agony and pain we all got to give him a standing ovation when he came running down the last stretch for a time of 8 hours and 48 minutes...Incredible is the only word that comes to mind.

*Photo by Ana


  1. Andreas, I am nearly crying while reading such a great bunch of emotions!!! You did a great race, man, and I would like to tell you this thing another time: CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    Let me just remember you that only one month ago you were suffering when training in Mondalindo, and since this day you have improved sooo much. You're in the way!!!

    Congratulations again, you can be proud of yourself because you're a SURVIVOR OF THE MAAAAM!!!!!

  2. Congrats, Andreas.

    You sure must be proud as hell on this achievement. The Madrid Alpine Marathon is a dangerous animal, and you sure proved how to master it.

    Now, sit back, relax and enjoy...further along the road there might other huge beasts lurking :-)

  3. Me vas a perdonar que escriba en español, pero mi inglés, (aún), no es lo suficientemente bueno para expresar con exactitud lo que siento. Ha sido un verdadero privilegio compartir con vosotros esas horas de entrenamiento, esas dudas y esa alegría por el objetivo cumplido. Me ha emocionado ir traduciendo tu crónica, poco a poco, saboreándola y recordando esos pasos en los que todos dejamos algo de nosotros mismos. Los Ultraoxígeno sois un grupo excepcional, y estoy seguro de que vais a poder cumplir con todos los objetivos que os propongáis.

    Un fuerte abrazo Andreas. ;-)

  4. Yo voy a hacer como el Maestro Velayos, perdona por escribir hoy en castellano pero es que expresar sentimientos es difícil, y más en una lengua que no controlo con fluidez.

    Enhorabuena, Andreas. Demostraste un gran coraje, mucha fuerza de voluntad (y muscular, que las piernas no se mueven solas) y me alegro muchísimo de haber compartido contigo tanto tiempo de carrera. Sinceramente no creía a Sergio cuando dijo que tú y yo iríamos juntos muchos tramos, ha sido una agradable sorpresa compartir el duro camino juntos.

    Me alegro mucho de haberte conocido (como al resto de UO2) y especialmente si con mi presencia he podido ayudarte un poco a conseguir tu reto. Eres grande, chaval (y no sólo de estatura)


  5. Wild and Mayayo- The pleasure was all mine you both know that none of this would have been close to possible for me without your support and help all the way... By these three great results I think we have shown ourselves the capacity that we posses and that we will be more than ready to face the Sahara in nine months from now...One hell of an adventure that is gonna be. Furthermore congrats to both of you on those amazing finishing times...speechless really.

    Carlos y Zerolito- No se preocupen, en español va muy bien tambien;)El placer ha sido mio/nuestro y toda esa ilusion que habeis aportado ha sido muuuy cantagioso y es un verdadero lujo poder participar en una carrera con personas como vosotros y especialmente teniendo en cuenta como ha salido el dia con seis esfuerzos tremendos, todos individuales pero con la misma alegria y orgullo de haber podido acabarlo a lo grande todos:)

    Supervivientes serémos para siempre señores;)