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.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.
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.
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.
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!