Less than ultra races!

El Cruce

El Cruce means The Crossing in Spanish but the race is not in Spain; it is in Argentina briefly crossing into Chile.

The travel time over here took over 27hrs eventually arriving in Bariloche. It’s a town next to the most enormous lake and has a back drop of mountains all around which is incredible scenic.
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We then travelled up to Villa Catedral with the awesome Cerro Catedral Mountain as the vista. It’s Argentina’s most popular ski resort. However, no snow now so the mountains were full of runners and crazy mountain bikers.

The first day was one of registration, packing, meeting new people (thanks Jorge Maravilla for your friendship and help) and a flag ceremony!

Jon with the GB flag

The race was over 3 days covering just under 100km. On Wednesday 1st February we got up at 3am to start. Thank you Intrepid Baboon for the Expresso boost to wake me up. The start was unusual. First there was a coach trip of 2.5hrs to a Argentina/ Chile border crossing point. We got of the coach all bleary eyed got our passports stamped exiting Argentina raced 3km and got our passports stamped returning.

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Then got back in the bus and transported another 1.5hrs before we raced 32km. The race took us through woodlands, rivers, up nearly 1000m and finally ending at the campsite next to a beautiful lake.

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All we had to carry was the compulsory kit. The volunteers were brilliant…tents up and great BBQ’d meat to eat.

 

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Mass BBQing

The lake was the place to wash and freshen up from all the sandy tracks and sun; it was so clear and blue.

The first day was like a time trial because as you got off the coach you started to race and with 500 runners we all arrived at different times. So the 3km and the 32km times were added together for the end of stage 1 result. I was lying in 3rd (3hrs 20mins) 7minutes behind two very strong Argentine runners (Tania Diaz Slater & Luciana Urioste).

Day 2 was a toughie. 35km and 1583m. The first 20 runners started together so I tried to keep up with the local ladies but as soon as we hit the technical single track I began to loose them. We started off along the beach, up through some woods and then a single track climb which peaked with a scree scramble to the ridge. Up and down along the ridge before an gnarly technical descent, then a sandy one and then back along another lake side. I never saw 1st & 2nd again but I raced and raced to make sure 4th could not catch me (4hrs 44mins).

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Over night it started to rain and remained on and off all morning as we raced the final stage. I stayed with the lady lying in 2nd for a good hour only again losing her on sections of rocky technical single track. My legs and breathing for the first time felt less strained. Just as well as I was fed up sounding like I was enjoying myself when I was actually hurting! I think I was finally getting used to the altitude and terrain. The race of about 27km went up and up (1582m) to Cerro Catedral and then dropped down for the last 10km (3hrs 9mins). It was much more runnable today and certainly tested the legs, heart and lungs!

Amazingly I only fell over 3 times. For all the variation in terrain I could not fault the SCOTT Kinabalu Supertrac RC. I fell because I tripped not slipped or lost my footing. I used poles on day 2 which helped my quads but, goodness, my poor non- existant triceps were taken to task! My nutrition worked well. I had a Bounce Ball for breakfast and then alternated a 32Gi gel & chew bar every hour during the race. I Rocktaped my ankles to prevent me spraining them.

Finishing is always a good feeling .

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I waited for Jon to finish so we could have a sandy sweaty- rain-damp celebratory hug. He came 5th in his age group despite really struggling with the heat and resultant cramps on day 1. He never ceases to amaze me!

 

I finished in 3rd in the end delighted to make the podium (11hrs 32mins).

Now for the long journey home. It always means so much so THANK YOU everyone for all your support and kind words on FaceBook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Podbrdo Trail Marathon (GM40)

When I was researching races for 2016 I came across the Podbrdo Trail Running Festival in Slovenia and entered straight away. I had always wanted to visit Slovenia and the route look beautiful. It was only later when I went back to inspect the website in more detail did I discover it was also to host the World Trail Running Long Course Championships. A fleeting thought of ‘what about trying to gain a place on the GB team’ was soon quashed by ‘don’t be stupid you’re no mountain, fell or hill running’.  The qualifying race was the 3 peaks race in Yorkshire and was won by true fell and well known mountain runners so that confirmed that thought. However, I was looking forward to learning from the National teams and their skills in such a race if I could keep up!

After Transvulcania I was looking forward to a race where I could stretch my legs out on the trails. On my first training run on Dartmoor after a disappointing 11th in the 74km race I managed to sprain my ankle. Really annoying but that’s life! I started on the old routine of cross training, lots of ankle rehab and after 2 weeks or so I tentatively started running again. I also continued to cross train and probably over did it but soon picked up a cold virus so had to rest up for 5days. My lead up to this race wasn’t great but I was determined to enjoy it. I headed out there with the remains of a cold, a vulnerable ankle, two blisters on my feet and a sore back (weight squatting session where I somehow doubled bounced and jarred my back) but a big smile.

We (Jon and I) flew into Ljubljana airport and caught the bus into the city. My first impressions were one of a clean and friendly country. We then caught the train straight out into the hills past Lake Bled to Jesenice and then swopped trains heading through the mountain tunnels to Podbrdo. I had booked accommodation through the race website and we were to be staying in a local woman’s house. The house was delightfully located by a river at the foot of the mountains. It straight away made me smile even more and the fresh air combined with the views was so relaxing. Our hosts were so welcoming. We got to sample true Slovenian cuisine and hospitality.

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The race started at 8am. It was here that I learnt my race would not be starting with the National teams but a few minutes behind. What a shame but I had my own race to concentrate on I knew that.

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The race went from 520m to  čez suho at 1760m on the GM40 route.

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It started off on a wide gravel trail before becoming more single track through the forested paths.

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The initial descent was technical and I had to have a firm word to myself about being such a lame descender  but the path soon became gravel tracks and roads and I could pick up pace. It was steep as we travelled down to Hudajužna at 361m. At about 28km I started walking and essentially did not start running until the top at 1590m at Porezen. That 7km was so steep on one section it was roped. As I started running past the ski lift station at the top I got overtaken by the chasing female. She descended like a true fell runner (fellow Brit) in a flury and a blur. The last descent over 7km was 1000m and this certainly tested the quads!
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The race was superbly organised and well marked. I enjoyed its challenge, finishing in 5hrs dead and coming in 2nd overall and first in my age category.

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I was delighted to find out the that team GB had come in 3rd (women) (and it was won by Brit to boot) and 2nd (men).
On arrival back at our local accommodation after the prize giving we enjoyed a glass of wine and a moment to savour in the beautiful location with our hosts.

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The next day Jon raced like a demon coming in 11th and first in the over 50’s. It was a 12km course climbing 800m. I tried to keep up to take photos but he soon saw the better of me.

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On leaving Podbrdo we had a day in Ljubljana.

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Looking around the castle and the city was nice but my heart remained in the country. If you ever get a chance to visit this country go, we’ll certainly come back!

Thank you to all my sponsors. Scott running, 32gi (5 gels and protein recovery drink for this race), Bounce Balls (breakfast!), Get in the Mood Coffee (race prep boost) and Rocktape (ankle support).

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Categories: Less than ultra races!, Marathons | 2 Comments

Mourne Skyline Trail Race

As I sit here (the following morning) enjoying a coffee in a warm and comfortable apartment in Newcastle, County Down, I watch the wind outside blowing an absolute hooly and I thinking ‘thank goodness I’m not outside’. Conveniently the mind quickly forgets and remembers with rose- tinted glasses….Yesterday I was out in this wind and at 700m (+/-) 9 times I struggled to stay grounded. It was my first Skyrace. Lots of climbing- according to my watch; good competition; mud; wind; and falling over. The 35km race was excellently organised and well marked out which was definitely required as the low cloud often obscured visibility. I didn’t get to admire many views but from sea level the mountains looked pretty impressive.

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I finished 6mins behind the World Skyrunning Champion, Stevie Kremer but it felt a closer race than that. We tracked each other until about 5miles to go when she just pulled away powering up the hills. I had been catching her on the downs but as the race went on and I fell (again) and rolled my ankle (again) and got buffeted off track by the wind (again) I seemed to lose confidence. Still it was a great race. I finished 2nd in 4hrs 30mins (yep not a great average pace but them there hills were pretty steep especially Slieve Donard).

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Me (2nd), Diana Wilson (3rd) & Stevie Kremer (1st) (L to R)

Post race and definitely post bath-

Yuck- did my legs leave any mud up there?

Yuck- did my legs leave any mud up there?

I headed out to enjoy some Irish culture, good food and of course a glass of wine with some of the other runners.

Thank you to Mourne Skyline Mountain Trail Race and Ian Corless for the invite and a great weekend of racing.

Categories: Less than ultra races! | 2 Comments

Tavy13

Should I or shouldn’t I race that was the question right up until race day. I’m so glad I did. The sun shone, it was great to see everyone from Tavistock Athletics Club since moving away and to support the club and, too boot, I raced well. My left foot has been giving me grief but it survived the 82minutes well. Great stuff. Thanks for a great day to all involved.

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Racing for the South West at Cardiff Cross Challenge today

After a storming, very muddy, race at the SW champs a few weeks ago I have been asked to race for the SW at the British Athletics Cross Challenge in Cardiff. The inter- area match will be held amongst a international field of cross country runners and I look forward to the race today.

Categories: Less than ultra races! | 2 Comments

Devon Selection

Mid Coastal Challenge (TCC) training but been selected to run of Devon in the South West cross-country Championships. Always a privilege. 5th January Killerton House. Will do my best but it follows a 30miler….better have another mince pie!

Categories: Less than ultra races! | 2 Comments

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