I would like to share with you my entirely amateur experience of taking part in the 53rd edition of ČEZ Jizerska 50. This year’s weather was fantastic and it attracted 4,800 participants to stand at the start of the race. The great weather also had an impact on our family record times – my son and my wife both broke their personal records. Only my record was on the negative scale. My worst Jizerska 50 ever – I took my time and ended up with the finish time of 7:44:03. However, because of health issues, my target this year was to finish the race, to not give up and to not end up last; and I managed that. Primarily to commemorate and remind ourselves of the Czech climbers.
At the very start of the eighth wave my wife ran off and the next time I saw her was back in our room. I calmly set in at my speed and skied at the closing end of the peloton. I had made a calculation in order to run through the two check points in time. The first one was at Jizerka, where I got about two minutes late, because on the way I had to get out of a snow blanket into which I had fallen during the downhill section. I was stuck on my back, trapped in a snowdrift and I almost felt like calling for help. I easily reached the second checkpoint at Smědava two minutes before the limit, so they didn’t pack me off onto the bus (even though a bit later I regretted that). After refreshments there follows, as the guide to the Jizerska race says, the “more-than-steep hill”, it is a beautiful kilometre of uphill skiing where I uttered some very nasty words and several times at that. At about the 33rd kilometre, the wind started to blow quite unpleasantly, which didn’t make me any more relaxed – hurricane messengers presented me with a load of snow falling off the surrounding trees down the back of my neck. One of the skiers overtaking us told us there were only two more skiers behind (the others had been sent onto the bus at Smědava). So I moved up a gear and at the refreshment stop I managed to overtake some skiers, and I renamed one, who looked Japanese, “Uko Jeshita”, a character from a Czech film. At this point I already had cramps in my legs, but a piece of orange coated in salt helped a little. These difficulties were obviously not enough, so at the 41st kilometre I managed to break my pole and for about three kilometres I skied with just one. I was almost throwing in the towel (and my skies) and cursed myself for even signing up for the race. As you can probably guess, at this point the last two skiers easily overtook me. I first heard Uko Jeshita scream after a fall, but a few moments later he overtook me without any trouble. Fortunately, after three kilometres Mr. Martin Zpěvák from the clean-up service helped me and lent me a pole, for which good deed I’d like to thank him here. At that moment started my pursuit to catch up with Uko and four kilometres before the finish I managed to overtake him. But he stepped on it and before I knew it he was gone. During the final downhill section at the stadium, the Japanese fell once more and I overtook him with my sitting-on-the-toilet juddering style. My advantage didn’t last long and he overtook me again in the home stretch. In the end I beat him, because he had started in the seventh wave at the start. The Japanese turned out to be a really friendly Filipino named Marc. The presenter of the event reassured me that I wasn’t the last, that there were about ten other skiers. My contentment instantly rose by 100 per cent. Then again, the last to reach the finish received a lovely cup. It might be an incentive for next time! When I reached the finish line the organisers had almost cleared the whole sporting area. Where in the morning there had been 4,800 bags with skiers’ clothing there was just a small pile now. With help from my already regenerated son I heroically trudged to our room where my wife greeted me with sympathy. She says I looked like Mr. Knotek, a character from another Czech film, who shovelled two tonnes of coal from one cellar to another. Within an hour I was fast asleep and on Monday I felt like accountant Fantozzi (from yet another, this time Italian film; for those who know it), I hurt all over and I couldn’t get out of bed. However, if you’ve ever skied Jizerska 50, you can’t miss the next one! Up with the 54th edition of Jizerska 50!