orienteering race (Val Di Non) 1:01:55  4.6 km (13:28 / km) +80m 12:23 / km
shoes: Inov8 Oroc spikes
Regional competition (approx 300 people) near the town of Fondo, north of Trento. When Stefano described the terrain to me he mentioned forest, contours and tracks, which I translated as "continental European" but actually it was really lovely, with some subtle bits, and if I'd been able to read the event info I would have realised even sooner that many of the tracks are verrrry indistinct at this time of year. Was nearly late for my start because the advertised 1.1km with 120m climb turned out to be more like 2.5km, but it was a good warmup. It also meant the course would have 200m descent, which my ankles weren't feeling too sure about.
Took the first control pretty carefully - a lot of people came unstuck here because it was up & over the hill - and proceeded to enjoy myself, because what can be better than orienteering in the Italian mountains in the summertime? Could tell that my sleep-deprived brain was becoming more vague as the course went on, though, and came completely unstuck when I encountered an unmapped fence around a small open area on a small hill, and couldn't work out the tracks in the vicinity especially when the small hill turned out to have a gravelled 'carpark' area below it and a door into the side of the hill! Followed the track downhill until something made sense, which conveniently turned out to be less than 100m from my control, but that was 4-5 min lost, and also very weird. Throughout the rest of the course I'd had a few small errors being slightly too high or low in the control circle, so feel that 56 min would have been a time I was happier with (M55's winning time for this course was 42 min), but it turned out that I was less than a minute behind the first W35 (there were only 4 of us).
It also turned out that there were presentations for all placegetters, so I won some cheese and a jar of cherry jam, with which I was very happy :)
Afterwards my tourguide took me to all the sights he'd taken the Uppills to last year: Monte Penegal for the view out over Bolzano, and Santuario di San Romedio which is a series of churches conglomerated on a rock spire, commemorating a 4-5th century 'hermit' who apparently tamed the local bears, and is commonly depicted leading one with a harness. I was fascinated, especially by the bones on display - have certainly never seen a relict of a saint before! It seems that people pray to him for family, judging by the number of baby photos and name-embroidered bibs and notes of gratitude upon the walls (I think this place would be a little sad for anyone who hadn't succeeded in having a baby or who had lost a child).
Now in Madonna di Campiglio, the event centre for the 5-Days and which is basically a ski village, brainchild of some Englishmen in about 1910 and which appears to have up to 100 hotels, most of them nearly empty because this is obviously not ski season and the summer holidays haven't started yet. Most of the hotels, including mine, are cuckoo-clock cute, which is a polite way of saying kitsch, but that doesn't make it a bad thing, and I do like the floral hanging baskets absolutely everywhere. Also the logo of the Dolomites World Heritage area is a bear and so even the street lamps and the footbridges have bear cutouts or stencils on them. And it doesn't seem to matter that I don't speak much Italian (can read slightly more) because everyone speaks some English, or, as happened to me in the supermarket, if I look blankly at them, they just repeat it in German! The northern part of Trentino-Alto Adige is also known as Sud Tirol and has changed hands between Italy and Austria a number of times over the centuries.