Never mind the race getting to Portugal and back to England was ultra training in itself. 90minute delay on the way out and 2.5hrs on the way home which meant I got home at 4.30am and got up for work at 6am. Good old British Airways! However, I did not mind…the GB female team got on the podium. We got Bronze!
Flying into Porto we travelled to Braga via bus and then ascended to Bom Jesus do Monte, a Portuguese sanctuary in Tenões. It is on a hill top and as such it was made a site of religious devotion back in time. The first chapel there dates from 1373 and in 1629 a pilgrimage church was established there. The present sanctuary was started in around 1722. There is a Baroque stairway and a water balance funicular leading up to the sanctuary.
The race was in Peneda Geres National Park in the North of the country about 45mins from Braga. It was an A to B 85km race starting in Rio Caldo and ending in Arcos de Valdevez climbing 5000m. The course was relentlessly up and down and lots of technical bits to spice it up further. It started at 5am and I finished 10hrs 36mins later.
I came in 7th (just under an hour behind the winner- incredible performance by Caroline Chaverot) and helped Team GB get a bronze medal with Beth Pascall, Joasia Zakrzewski, Sally Fawcett and Sophie Grant.
I’m now walking like a Labrador with their wooden legs. I think my quads got so hammered in the first 30km which was fast. I had no option but to keep pace and push but so did not want to leave it there. Leaving Geres was more technical and I naturally slowed up but determined not to get frustrated by my crapness at descending on such terrain. It was here Beth caught me and we ran together for perhaps 30km.
There was a nice long descent into Lindoso and then up out to Soajo. Lindoso had sone fine examples of granaries. They are used for drying and storing maize.
I went through up and downs throughout never feeling utterly brilliant but also aware that was probably because I pushed the whole way. I fuelled continuously on 32Gi gels, chews and energy drink I had made up for the aid stations and some homemade flapjacks.
Two Swiss women passed at different times but I hardly saw any other women so with 20km to go I decided to push on seeing if I could make up any places. It was worth it as I made up one place in the end catching one of the Swiss women.
The last 10km from Mezio I was hanging on in there. I had actually passed the other Swiss girl at the Mezio aid station but she caught me with 3miles to go and I could not keep with her. I crossed the line and was so pleased to lie down.
Thanks have to go to Team GB for selecting me; SCOTT for the Kinabalu Supertrac RC that stuck me to the trail and the vest that carried everything; 32Gi for the excellent sports nutrition pre, during and post; Bounce Balls #StayUnstoppable nutritional snack pre, during and post racing; Rocktape for the support getting me through the training and the race; and LED lenser for the SEO 7R Rechargeable LED Head Torch which was faultless; and Hectic Hamster Coffee for waking me up at 0230 to catch the transport to the 0500hrs start.