Last long training run before the UTMB. Well that was the idea - but the thing about 105km races in the heart of the Pyrennees that go more up 'nd down than they go flat is, well, they kind of rip you to pieces no matter how "easy" you try to approach them!
Here is a completely non-exaggerated race profile! :
So, yes, the idea was to use this race as a long day in the hills, - a real leg strengthener on a beautiful course - and also to use it to practise ultra-eating and ultra-poling. So I ate as much as I could during the 13 hours, and I did something I've never done before - yes I raced with er, poles - SORRY !!! I know, I understand if you're now instantly unsubscribing from my blog. Truefully I couldn't personally bear to use them on the first climb, for fear of blinding the poor bloke behind, in the long snake of runners going up and out of Barruera. But I'm not going to deny that they were pretty useful later on. At the end of the day, if you're out for 13+ hours on very steep terrain then you are going to be race-walking a fair bit, and this is where poles are handy. This and to prevent people overtaking you on the latter stages of the race: - good luck if you want to overtake me now!! :
So my "steady away" tactic went generally really well. Luis Alberto broke away off the front around 40km in. I let him go, rather than trying (and most certainly failing) to chase - that guy is strong! Then I got into a nice, steady pole-kind-of rhythm. And there was no sign of anyone behind, perfect. That is until the last summit. As I crested the final peak I glanced back to see the blue vest of Javier Dominguez, a Spanish runner who's known for his fast finishes. Oh no!! Back into race mode! So there was no choice but to bomb down those last 15km to the finish line! That I did. And I think it's the reason why my legs are so sore today!!
Chuffed to get round this course in one piece. It's a monster! What a difference from the undulating, wide trails of the Lavaredo Ultra Trail four weeks ago! But after all, this is Sky Running, and the "Sky" bit means real mountains and the rough and narrow paths that navigate them. Well, that's one difference!..
Here's the results. Now it's time for some holidays in the Pyrennees :-)