Contrary to previous evidence that indicated the Marathon World Championships course in Austria was going to be a mostly gravel and road course, there was actually a significant amount of technically challenging terrain. The provided course profile broke the course down into 72% roadway, byroad and main road. That left 13% to be cart track and 15% as trail. All signs pointed to a road race with 3,818m or 12,526 ft of climbing.
In reality the course was designed very well with the trail and the cart-track sections dispersed throughout the day so as to leave you a feeling that there was much more trail than there really was. Plus the trail was uber technical, with super steep descents, rock drops, lots of roots and it was all made the more trecherous by the full night of rain the previous evening.
All in all the three Americans who went to Austria for the race are coming home impressed with the difficulty of the course. Even though some of them would have preferred a bit more trail, the Europeans were heard complaing about the difficulty of the course. Heather Holmes and myself were happy to have left an impression on the rest of the field with our trail riding prowess compared to many of the others around us. Pua Sawicki had a tough time trying to pass Masters men riders who started in front of the women and were reluctant to let a lady by in the trail, causing her to crash early in the race. I guess male egos are universal.