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VODÁK sport | speciálka na lodě a běžky



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Dolomitenmann seen with competitor?s eyes

21.1.2007 20:46:12     Autor: Jirka
Dolomitenmann seen with competitor’s eyes I wrote this article immediately after I took part in this race for the first time. It seems to be out of date now, but as I have been reading it recently, I have to say that after those years it still has a lot of the spirit and the whole nature of the race. Recently I have to quite often explain why having the fastest boat is so important, why something a bit worse isn’t enough? The answer is – because it’s impossible to survive with anything a bit worse. The race is built at power limits and any handicap is unthinkable. That’s why I ride Pyranha Master 2 kayak that is the fastest kayak for this course considering given conditions and restrictions. That’s why practically all pros ride it, that’s why the course builder Thomas Zimerman rides it... So, here is the article: Dolomitenmann seen with competitor’s eyes When you say Dolomitenmann, I have an idea of a very hard relay race, which an ordinary man cannot survive. But on the other hand I was attracted to try it once, to reach the bottom of my strength. When a friend of mine “Bimbo”, who had gone this race few times, asked me some time in February whether I wanted to join the second Eurofoam team, because their kayaker dropped out, I didn’t hesitate a second and said I took it. I took it seriously and started training and loosing weight in April. I mostly rode a boat that I bought especially for this race, but I also rode a bike and ran. Finally I rode 800 km on the boat, which seemed good and I felt that I had done a lot for our success. This feeling lasted, but only up to the arrival to Lienz in Austrian Dolomite, a locale of the race. I went there on Monday, to be on the safe side, so I would have been able to explore the course properly and remember ideal passages. Para gliders Patrik and Dalibor, one of the runners Pepa and Bimbo arrived to Lienz already on Sunday. All these great fellows had already taken part in Dolomitenmann and they rather cooled my optimism. On Tuesday morning I went down the course in the rivers Drau and Isel for the first time. I started with practising a jump from the ramp. Its height 6m wasn’t a little, especially when the landing was into “hard” water, but it was surmountable. The first two jumps were perfect, so I started to think how easy it was, but next two jumps were worse. My non-falling spray deck fell and I even bent the kayak in the middle. That was the first trouble. Luckily, there were paddlers yet coming from Brno on Thursday who brought me some foam from Otik as a reinforcement, which helped. But the jump was just the beginning. The river Drau isn’t extremely wild – grade II-III. It depends on how much water is released from the power station. Also difficulty of gates and especially of upstream ascents depends on it. The first eleven gates were a classic slalom (touches were allowed), nice, technical. I really liked it. But it started in the twelfth gate! The first upstream. About a hundred metres up the stream to number thirteen. I became soaked in sweat, especially during the first ascent from the twelfth gate. I always made it, but it was a near thing. I had known there had been going to be troubles here. Fortunately, I was able to find an “easier” way through other longer upstreams. The twenty-second gate – an Eskimo roll under a tree - was OK, but in the twenty-fourth there was quite a great hole. It wasn’t too bad in lower water level, but when they released more water the hole held back and you bounced in it as a table tennis ball. Then it was quiet up to the junction with the Isel. Those two hundred metres up the stream of the Isel were all right, too, then carry the boat around a rapid and then down into it. A very problematic upstream gate under an island in the middle of the river would also be a decider. Then crossing the strong stream there and back again... wow... such a riot in the finish, when you can hardly flap about with the paddle... We would see.. The rest of the party, cyclists Peter and Thomas and runner Peter, arrived on Wednesday. The atmosphere was becoming tense and nervousness was increasing... . Nights, in which I went through all the gates nearly a hundred times, but I knew nothing about sleep... . And Saturday morning is here. Am I ready? I went it down five times and checked it many times from the bank. Hopefully, it will come out well. A sight of rivals with a figure of Arnold Schwarzeneger didn’t calm me down. Runners are passing, Petr and Pepa are in hot pursuit of the leading group. That looks “badly”, we will be too ahead. We are going to the field to wait for paragliders’ passing on. The information that Petr passed on in the second place and Pepa in the thirty-first place is great but it doesn’t calm down at all. I’m discovering that I have forgotten the number. I’m winning a race against time... when I’m reaching the stadium, Patrik is flying over us to the stopover... I’ve got about twenty minutes. I’m changing calmly and getting ready for start. First parachutes are landing, but I can’t see Patrik. Nervousness is rising. I’m warming up, though I have already been warmed up as never. And he’s above the forest. He’s a bit out of control of his landing almost among the crowd, but he‘s running with his parachute so fast, that I hardly managed to draw a breath, and I’m running, too. I’ve already tried out the ford without swimming it’s hardly waist-deep, but water is tripping me up in the speed, so I’m getting over the Drau in thrusts with my head under water every now and then. I’m sprinting to my boat and putting it on the ramp. I’m hardly breathing. Put on the spray deck properly, quickly - there’s another competitor, and I‘m flying. Landing is good, the spray deck is holding tight. I cannot catch my breath after the run, paddling rhythm isn’t good enough. Luckily, the first gates are more than a kilometre away. I’m catching my breath, calming down and getting into the rhythm. An Austrian behind me is riding on my wave. What to do with him? I’m choosing another way before the gates, but it’s worse and he is getting ahead. I’m going through the gates absolutely fluently. Even what was impossible during the training is coming out well. Only the Austrian is in the way... And we are going further in reverse order, another competitor few seconds behind us... And me greatest fear is getting closer. Gate number twelve and the ascent. It went wrong... Another competitor is overtaking me. I’m clambering up close to the bank and I continue with about a half a minute loss. The following ascents came out quite well, but I can’t already feel my arms. The Eskimo roll and to the hole. A lot of water, the hole holds back, but summoning all my strength I’m getting out and through the gate. A bit of rest again up to the Isel. Someone is speeding behind me again. I mustn’t let him get ahead. I’m getting out of the kayak and I’m sprinting on the stony bank. A blow, darkness and I’m lying on my back. What’s going on? A tree above me. I’m getting up and staggering further. I’m up the rapid earlier and I’m getting into my kayak first. The gates are coming off, even though I’m slightly delayed in the upstream one. I’ve got it and I’m setting about doing the crossing. The competitor behind me is missing the upstream gate and he’s already speeding to an alternate gate – about two minutes loss. I’m calmly finishing the crossing, getting out of my kayak, pushing away a cameraman, who has thrust his camera into my face, and I’m running up to pass on. Thomas, go... I’m falling down and lying behind the finish with some water and Red Bull for about twenty minutes. Bimbo is coming and he’s in the same boat. We have survived!!! We’re slowly walking to the square to see the cyclists’ finish. We are the ninth. Great! A party till the morning... A Sunday bicycle trip along the cycle course (height difference 1 500m) and let’s go home. When you say Dolomitenmann, I have an idea of a very hard relay race, which an ordinary man cannot survive... ... .
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