Saturday, July 18, 2009

818km race to goal via seven turnpoints

The glider has been relined (and the risers modified to prevent more tree landings!), the rucksack is packed (about 10kg with minimum gear), Alex has stocked and fuelled the van and we're ready to roll. Race briefing is a 7:45am tomorrow morning, we'll be in Salzburg city centre about 10:30am, and it all kicks off at 11:30am (0930 UTC).

Who's favourite? I don't think anyone feels confident that they will be the first to Monaco. So many world class pilots, several strong walkers. And of course Toma Coconea. The forecast is pretty grim: there'll certainly be a few good opportunities to fly, but with strong Westerly winds forecast for the next week at least I wouldn't be surprised to see a Coconea/Toase one-two, maybe with only Toma in goal. But the forecasts are more often wrong than right.

It's gonna be a long race. You don't really get the scale of it until you see the terrain: hundreds upon hundreds of kilometres to cover, valley after valley, mountain pass after mountain pass. The full scale of the endeavour has only really become apparent recently, but I'm really looking forward to the challenge. The past few days here in Austria have been busy but comfortable. Twenty four hours from now I'll be walking though the night and my life will change completely. Not just during the race, but I know that the Tom Payne at the finish of the race will be a different one to the one that started it.

Let the adventure begin.