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Philipp the Race Reporter at his first Dolomitenlauf

Our Worldloppet Race Reporter Philiipp visited the Dolomitenlauf & here is his report.

Philipp was a former pro-skier of the Austrian National team, later a member of the Skimarathon Team Austria & now he is the Worldloppet Race Reporter. This season he is travelling around the world, to the different Worldloppet races on a mission: He wants to become a Worldloppet Master. While he is doing that, he is showing you the “inside” of the Worldloppet marathons. 

Philipp at the Austrian Dolomitenlauf

My journey becoming a Worldloppet Master started off easy as the venue of the Dolomitenlauf is just 3 hours away from home. I packed my bags, took my best skis and cruised into Friday night’s sunset, direction south, towards my Worldloppet Passport and a very familiar race track. For all the readers who are not in the fortunate position to just hop in their car for a short trip to Lienz: There are several airports not too far from Lienz. My friends from Finland rented a car together and drove the last kilometres from Munich Airport. Of course, it is also possible to use public transport. A detailed map can be found on the race website.

I have spent lots of weeks training in the area of Obertilliach during my time in the Austrian Team. Knowing the course might not always be an advantage, grim memories of hill climb intervals came to my mind and my legs got a bit fluffy. The state of my legs changed the moment I arrived in Obertilliach, Friday night, to watch the Dolomitensprint. Every year a fine selection of world-class sprinters is fighting for glory and prestige and a really nice 4 digit check. Watching the sprinters perform made me looking forward to my race on Sunday and my legs felt a bit more ready for the Marathon.

Taking part in the home race, of course, means meeting a lot of familiar faces and more talking than skiing – just the way I like it. And that is what I did on Saturday. Watching and cheering for the classics competitors, talking to friends, making new friends, testing my two pairs of skis and a short track check. The afternoon I spent drinking coffee, eating Apfelstrudel and strolling through the city of Lienz. Showing my skis some love was the only thing left to do before my carbo-loading dinner. I brought my own equipment, but in case you don’t have your own tools with you, there is the possibility to get your skis waxed for you. Saturday night’s dinner was classy Austrian, light and absolutely beneficial for a top-notch race performance on Sunday. In a great company I enjoyed:

  • Starters: “Verhacktes” on black bread and Schlipfkrapfen filled with potatoes in butter.
  • Main: Wiener Schnitzel and one, maybe two, wheat beers. Of course alcohol-free 😉
  • Dessert: Apfelstrudel.

Well prepared and super stoked I rolled to bed. Speaking of bed and accommodation, I would recommend staying either in Lienz or Obertilliach. Both options offer a shuttle transport for racers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to the start area and back. Lienz is a city Obertilliach a mountain village. Google will help to make your choice. The area of East Tyrol is very touristy, so you won’t have troubles finding an accommodation.

On race day I woke up early to enjoy my breakfast and avoid stress before the race. Everything went smooth, I collected my race bib one hour to the start and began to warm up. During warm-up, I kept telling myself to run my own pace and not over pace the first kilometres. But as soon as the gun went at 10 o’clock sharp I found myself going all-in, following the leading group the first kilometres. Somewhere in the long uphill towards the race’s highest point, I had to accept the fact that I had to slow down in order to survive. I found myself in a nice little group of 6 who shared my pacing strategy from the first kilometres. Going all in from the beginning in order to find out how long one can hang onto the leading group – fearless heroes. Together we tackled the second lap of the race (2x 21km). With 3 kilometres to go, I waved goodbye to my fellow group members as they were dropping me in the fight for king of the group – traitors ;). After 42km and 800 meters in elevation gain, I reached the finish line. Very exhausted but smiling, one step closer to my season goal to become a Worldloppet Master.

Overall it was an amazing weekend. Great company, nice weather and a well-organized race.

My next stop will be the Sapporo Skimarathon. Basically the opposite of the Dolomitenlauf for me. I’m travelling alone, I don’t know anyone and my Japanese is not really great. Good thing the Worldloppet family is welcoming everyone with open arms and I’m sure it won’t be boring. Congratulations to all the participants who made it to the finish line the last two days and kicked ass! Have a great week, ski hard and don’t forget…to ski around the world.

Why should a Worldloppet skier go to the Dolomitenlauf?

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