On 19 May, Sue Ridley was in Buhlertahl, Germany for the World Masters Mountain Running Championships competing over an extremely tough 9.5km course with an 880m climb in temperatures exceeding 24C. The races were divided into 5 year age group categories from 35 to 75 with men and women running together in their respective age groups.
Due to the sheer numbers and the narrow start line, Sue unfortunately found herself several rows from the front of a quality field. At 1pm after a slow start and a lot of pushing and shoving, Sue set off up the very steep tarmac section of approx 2.5km which led out of the village.
The heat reflecting off the tarmac made it all the more difficult for the runners but thankfully the organisers had added 2 more water stations which were very welcome. Sue worked her way through the field enjoying the parts of the route that took them on the Black Forest trails, some of which meandered through the trees giving the runners a welcome break from the sun. Passing several women including former multiple World Masters Mountain Running Champion from Poland Irena Pakosz, Sue climbed steadily on this unrelenting course over forest trails and tarmac.
Feeling very strong, Sue closed down on 2 German runners, passing one very easily but as she tried to pass the next one, the German athlete kept cutting her off. By this time, the course had veered off onto a narrow stony track. With about 500m to go, Sue managed to scramble up the rocky hillside to finally get past her rival and set off towards home, taking over 30s out of the German over the last 400m. Sue crossed the line not knowing where she’d finished until she was handed a rose and told she’d finished 3rd.
It was a great achievement as Germany dominated the medal rostrums in all age groups.
This was the first World Masters Mountain Running Championships to record over 1000 finishers and well done to them all.