Stage 7 was the featured stage of the race. Better known as the "cave stage" this route has become a favorite of the Western route. The starting gates were staggered by 10min, allowing everyone room to spread out before the single track which was less than a kilometre from the start. This allowed Carrie and me 10 solid minutes to sing along and bob our heads in fun before we got to business.
The majority of this stage is mostly runable. Bearing the fact that it was the 7th day of running and over 200km into the race. Carrie and I made steady work of running and land marking our way all the way through Uina Canyon and to the finish. The canyon was a lovely distraction and so stunning it seemed to give back energy as we crossed.
The toughest part of the day was the section just past the canyons as it was a false flat and the terrain was just gradually "up" enough that it made for difficult running this late in the race. The temptation to walk this section was at a priemium and we passed a lot of runners who were in this low energy zone.
Carrie and I kept each other entertained by telling stories from the books we were currently reading. We had a runner ask us to stop 6km from the finish and sit in two Goretex chairs and pose for a photo in our skirts. Sure, why not. After which time Carrie had a strong craving for a gin and tonic. This put us on a whole different topic during the final descent into the finish. We finished in 5:07 and what would have been 4th female team.
We were dreaming of gelato all stage and within 30min of finishing we were in the nearest gelato stuffing our faces with fresh Italian goodness.
Our guesthouse was within 2min from the finish and we decided to skip out on the pasta party and we went for pizza instead.
STAGE SEVEN DETAILS
Scuol, Switzerland to St. Valentin, Italy
37,8 km • Vertical gain: 1633 m • Vertical loss: 1369 m
The 7th Stage finally marks the crossing of the High Divide and the arrival in the Southern Alps. Bella Italia beckons but it'll be a long and difficult path to get there yet. Schlinig Pass (2,261 m) forms the gate to the nowadays unmanned border crossing and taxes the racers with a climb of 1,633 m; enough to starting pushing the envelope of many racers who'll start showing signs of fatigue this far into the race. The spectacle of Uina Canyon and the high alpine plateau in the heart of the Sesvenna Range will certainly make up for some of the toil but won't be able to mask the anguish entirely.