Monthly Archives: June 2017

Lavaredo Ultra Trail

11pm, Saturday 23 June, Cortina town centre and the gun went off. It was the start of the Lavaredo Ultra Trail 120km trail race with 5800m of climbing.

It was a pleasant evening which was a relief as on the previous few nights thunder and lightening had spectacularly rolled around the valley producing hail the size of cherries.

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Jon was racing too.

We kissed goodbye and the race started. The trail climbed out of the town, head lamp after head lamp winding their way through the trees. I used the LED Lenser MH10 head lamp and it was utterly brilliant; comfortable, good strong beam of light, easy to use and no sign of fading all night.

I had anticipated that the first half of the course would be more runnable and so set a pace that would bring me in at half way in just under my target time.

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During the night the course went past the Tre Cime di Lavaredo which is the emblem of the Dolomites. It would have looked like this in the day if I’d seen it!

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Forc. Lavaredo was a peak that I did reach as dawn was breaking and the view was spectacular. There was a lower layer of cloud in the valley but above was the sun breaking.

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I journeyed on acutely aware that I had not even reached half way but wasn’t feeling great. My energy levels were fine; I had well and truly carbo loaded the 3 days before using 32Gi Endure; I had been regularly eating 32Gi gels and Bounce balls;  I was drinking very regularly; and I was sweating well. My legs felt as though they had no power. I struggled to push the pace on on the flats and this was truly noticeable as I ascended. It did not feel as though I was going through a bad patch, although a little nauseous, I just felt rubbish!

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As dawn broke I was coming up to half way, Cimabanche. I replenished my stock of energy, applied sunscreen,  swopped head lamp for sunglasses and headed off again.

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Photo credit: Kris Duffy

I was overtaken at half way losing my 5th position (although at the time I did not know my position). I was asked ‘what is wrong- why are you running so slowly?’- I had no real explanation. The sun came up and the second half of the course began to test my technical skills descending and my ability to climb at any sort of competitive pace. I noticed that as I climbed I felt really nauseous and as I descended I felt better. I did not put this down to altitude at all at the time but perhaps, in hindsight, it was?

There was another trail race on and as I climbed the 10km from 80 to 90km I got stuck behind hundreds of these runners on the single track winding it’s way up the valley. It was really hot but I could make use of the river.

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The rest of the race became a battle to the end. I just kept moving forward. I was passed. I rested on my poles. I shuffled on. I was passed. I felt nauseous. I felt better. My legs dreaded the descents when they knew I would try and run but all they produced was a shuffle. I was passed.

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Photo credit: Kris Duffy

It was such a long 10km to the end. I was so pleased to come into the  town. My fellow Winchester and District Athletic Club Runner, Robin Houghton, caught me up here and we ran in together.

I crossed the line and the compère asked me what happened. My reply to him was ‘the wheels fell off!’. It happens and although my pride was a little dented I was delighted to have finished.

I waited up for Jon. I knew he was on his target and I wanted to see him finish. I was so proud. He never ceases to amaze me.

Thank you to all your lovely messages of support before and afterwards. Also to my sponsors- SCOTT RUNNING, ROCKTAPE, 32Gi, LED Lenser, Bounce Balls and Coffee Buddies.

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Categories: Ultra races | 2 Comments

World Trail Championships 2017

Putting on the GB kit is always a honour and I was so looking forward to the privilege. I had been selected to run in the World Trail Championships which were to be held in Badia Pratalgia, Poppi, a region of Tuscany. The course was 50km through the Sacred Forests trails. Team GB (female) consisted of 6 runners with 4 to score. As usual I wanted to make my training count and do as well in the vest as possible.

We were staying about 12km outside of Badia in a place called Camoldoli. The accommodation was in an old Monastery which sat hidden about the trees. It was a very serene setting to rest the day before the race. A nice opportunity to forget all your worries for day and talk to new people, enjoy the Italian food and soak up the sunshine. The build had been fairly stressful so this was really welcome.

The opening ceremony was the night before the race and all the teams got to stroll through the Italian streets of Poppi up to the castle which dates from 1191. Music, dancing and traditional Italian costumes were on full display to mark the occasion.

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Tom Payn, Kyle Greig, Gareth Hughes, Matthew Roberts, Jo Meek, Katie Kaars Sijpesteijn, Helen Bonsor, Sally Fawcett &Joasia Zakrzeski (not in order)

Race morning was a complete contrast and very much one of focus; alarm went off, coffee (Intrepid Baboon expresso) & Bounce Ball breakfast consumed, race kit on, bus to the start, compulsory kit check, good lucks and we were off!

 

We were off with the words in my head ‘don’t go off to fast’ because despite it being an uphill start there was a real stampede.

 

As I reflect back over the course I just remember running up or down. It was held in the National Park of Forests Casentinesi.

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The first part was fairly runnable but the long climb from 33km to 44km was less so. It was relentless…although relentlessly beautiful. The course saw us run through the untouched Sasso Fratino forest which is nominated to become a World Heritage Site (UNESCO), along ridges, past ancient religious settlements like the Verna Sanctuary (where is it believed San Francis of Assisi is believed to have received the stigmata), around the huge hydraulic Ridracoli dam, descending steps and cobbled tracks and ultimately climbing and then descending 2900m.

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I ran the race alone just consistently passing other runners until the final climb where I have to say 3 runners passed me. I managed to hold out for a top 20 finish (17th) in 5hrs 31mins.

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I was first in the GB team but the others soon arrived in. We did not manage a team prize but worked hard for our position of 4th. The French, Italians and Spanish took 1st, 2nd and 3rd racing expertly over the mountainous route.

A big thank you goes to the team, the team support (Adrian, Spencer and Sam), British Athletics, my race energy gel providers 32Gi, Rocktape for saving me from too many ankle sprains, SCOTT Running #SupertracRC,  Bounce Balls and Get in the Mood Coffee. Now back to reality!

 

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