From the start, I felt pretty good and was very happy with my pace and performance until I had to do an emergency landing past Innsbruck (by Seefeld) into restricted airspace and I received a 48 hour penalty.
I could have done a tree landing (in very rough conditions) on top of a ridge to avoid the penalty, but I decided to land 500 meters lower, and to my disadvantage, safely in a field. The good part was that Christa Vogel and Juergen Kraus (flying friends from the 80's) lived near by and we could enjoy visiting them and were treated with their amazing hospitality. It got even better as the kids just showed up for a visit and stayed with us for the 2 days. It was fun to invite all the other competitors for a snack or meals while they passed us, or landed in a field close by. After 2 days of watching 13 pilots pass us, we had to refocus and get back into race mode. Thanks again for the mental support from Stewart Midwinter to be able to start my own race and adventure from that position. We came from the very back of the pack (only 1 hour ahead of the last person) and fought ourselves into position 23. I was enjoying being in a close pack with such a great group of people/pilots and I was always close to my good friend, Andy Froetscher, who finished 17th. I was hoping to finish the race with him or better.
Overall, it was an amazing race with very good flying conditions. We experienced a lot of set backs due the lack of local "area" knowledge. It was very frustrating thinking you know where thermals "should be", what ridges and terrain would work better than others, only to find myself flushed down from 3500m to the ground and ended up having to hike up very high mountain passes more often than the "locals"
The good weather also brought a lot of windy and dangerous conditions as well. We had flights in plus 50 km winds, in rain and thunder storms, but at the same time we had some long flights (one over 150 km) flying over glaciers and very beautiful terrain. We had hikes in areas we never would have gone to and met such a wide variety of people along the way, some who we're sure were the start of a long friendship.
All this would not have possible to do without the support I received. Thanks again to Mik Broschart for all his technical support, and who drove with his "fancy" RV and made it possible that Penny could walk and fly most of the route with me. Penny did an amazing job as a pace setter, along the flats, up the mountains, and because she figured she needed more of a workout, she'd run back down to the valley!! My stats for hiking was, 6 km/hr, 471 km distance and 40 km elevation gain. I would say that Penny did at least 90% of that, plus going down, cooked dinners, cleaned most of the dishes, checked weather, and was up earlier than Mik and I everyday to have breakfast ready, and everything ready and prepared for the day ahead ..... she is more then living up to her name (Powers).
I would also like thank everyone who cheered us on and supported us throughout our training and during the race, A photo gallery will follow soon.
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