Sunday 5 February 2012

Sun, Snow, Ice, Running...

Two weeks ago I made the trip across France, climbing up to well above see level, into the Pyrenean mountains for the Font Romeu snow trail. On the day it was not very cold at all and there was next to no snow to be seen anywhere. It wasn't to be a 'snow trail' at all in fact. Not normal. At least not for mid January at 2000m amsl. And so, on that occasion, the 40k race was shortened and run on a mix of dirt trail and left-over patches of ice. Since that shorts 'nd t-shirt spell things have reversed entirely. It's been frikin' freezin'. Even in the deep south of Provence. Isn't it supposed to always be lovely and warm here all the time?!. The irrigation ditches feeding the olives, the apricots and the cabbage patches around our house have frozen solid and anything pointing in a northwards direction has been battered by a 100km/h incessant gale. Siberia has left its freezer door open and has been spitting its very chilly contents directly at us day and night since Monday last week. Today, just two weeks after the kids were out in the garden in shorts and t-shirts, I only had to nip down the road for an hour to run in half a foot of fresh snow. Again, not normal. Originally a long steady training run was on the agenda for the weekend, however I just couldn't face the idea of several hours of deep-freeze facial battering and I made a last-minute adjustment. By moving eastwards by just fifty miles I could get out of the Mistral's arctic blast and if I did a race instead of just a run I hoped that it would at least force me to shift fast enough to generate sufficient blood flow so as not to take the form of a frozen haricot-vert. It turned out to be a very good idea. This morning, on arriving at Cadolive, just north of Marseille, for the 8am start of the trail de Galinette, I was initially disappointed to discover that the long route had been scrapped entirely and that we'd all be doing the short course of 18km (850m+) at 9.30am. But that problem was quickly resolved, Guillaume (Le Normand) and I set off into the snow and got an hour in before the start. At least we'd get some miles in that way (31km for the day). It also meant that I felt totally warmed up the time the gun went. So hot was it by 930 in fact that I could strip down to just one pair of ski gloves. Roasting. Anyhow, it turned out to be a beautiful race course, mainly on narrow single-track, winding it's way through and over narrow gorges and up short but steep climbs. I'll be keen to return to this one and hopefully for the full 37km route next time, but there's little chance it'll be white under foot again, well that just wouldn't be very normal would it...

Race results here.

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