Rest and Recuperation Day as Told Through Photos

Saturday, had a “schedule” jam-packed with optional events and activities that were solely focused on fun and relaxation. This day, sandwiched between two very difficult runs, was all about letting the athletes enjoy the wonderful food, people and atmosphere of the Gastein valley.

Things kicked off with a community 5k at 8:30 am  which saw locals and visitors alike running alongside winter sports legends, Tobias Angerer and Sven Fischer and ended with the entire group crossing the finish-line as one in a great show of togetherness. It was a fantastic start and you could feel in the air that it was going to be a great day.

Next up was the Athlete’s Brunch that featured local and organic food that wowed everyone who was able to enjoy it. The fun fact that the amateurs and pros could share a table and swap their “battle stories” while they stuffed themselves with scrumptuous local food made it a really special part of the day.

“Well today I did pretty much nothing but relax and eat. The food here is seriously amazing. I think they bring in all of the best food from all over Austria. I also got some physio and a massage and just relaxed to prepare for tomorrow,” Abby Levene said when I asked her about how she spent her Saturday.

With full bellies and light hearts, the athletes were free to wander around, take part in yoga sessions or just recouperate and relax in the health centers.

Yet again, the Gastein valley and aIT partners didn’t disappoint.

The one obligation of the day was for the competitors to take part in the race briefing which described the run in great detail and gave everyone the necessary information for the world championships. After the meeting they received their race numbers and bibs for the big race on Sunday.

The day was ended with a public viewing of the Germany vs Sweden World Cup match (thank goodness Germany had one happy ending) in the Alpen Arena with an great mix of German fans and locals who cheered for Sweden simply because they were playing against their neighboring country rivals.

“I’ve never seen such a well organized event,” one Spanish runner told me on Saturday afternoon. “I have run events all over Europe and this one has really been amazing. We’ve been totally spoiled and can’t wait to come back next year.”

What a day it was and the excitement levels could be almost physically felt as the countdown began for the 4am start on Sunday morning.

The lead up to the big event had been a success but the dark clouds looming over the mountain tops boded ill for the coming day and as the athletes slept, the organizers and safety team stayed up through the night tracking the weather and formulating plans in case they would be forced to delay or re-route the race.

For what happened that fateful Sunday morning….read my next blog.

~ Kevin Gillikin