Trail Runners


Race Report:100km Ultra Trans Aubrac, France (Read 136 times)

Into the wild

    The Ultra Trans Aubrac The day of my first ultra arrived! The day got off to a good start. Alarms sounding at 2:30 am, I woke easily and headed downstairs for a coffee and a banana. We were soon in the car with a couple of hours ahead of us. I chatted tirelessly as Ruth listened. She still seemed sleepy; maybe she had less adrenalin on the go than me.... Our route in took us over the second stage of the run; it soon became apparent we were in trouble regarding the gun time. We hit snow, cloud and ice. We dropped to 20 mph progress and blew away any chance of a leisurely registration: it was to be mad! We arrived with 5 minutes to go. I grabbed my bag and check I had all; Ruth pinned my number to it and, with the race already started I was off in 'hot' pursuit!! (Lesson learned!!!!!) I was to start at the back and pretty much stay there throughout. The first 5k came and went. I recall holding back from trying to catch the rest; there were a few around me but we were well dropped in truth. I recall also having to pinch myself; I was here, in the dark, well equipped and running my first ultra. I was loving it. Further I had regular meets with Ruth along the route to look forward to Smile The run was in 4 stages: 22.7km, 22.8km, 33.6km and 21.4km. 1500m ascent over the first two stages, 1500 over the last two. Less than an hour into the run the sun came up, in huge contrast to the previous week's weather. A magnificent sign. The temperature was to climb from 2°C to 12°C or so. I have no complaints there. Things were set up for the realization of a dream! The previous week of foul weather had left many parts muddy but on the whole, up to 15k, I was able to avoid the worst and hoped to find, as we climbed, less and less standing water. I have no idea why I believed that might be the case and after playing a fool, avoiding what I could in an effort to remain in my sanitized bubble, I found myself facing a track with no choices!! In I I should have at the beginning. From here on I was to find streams, mud, slime to greet me on the ascents and descents as well as further on in the forest stages. Despite these difficulties I was running the downs and flats and adopting a pacey walk up the inclines. I felt good. I had the whole day to do this thing and I had good equipment and supplies. The drop into Laguiole was particularly daunting but I 'popped' out at the end and slipped into Laguiole for a change of kit and some welcome snacks at the aid station. I'd gone by a couple of chaps over the last 5km and felt good to go as I headed out for the next stage of 22km! A note to what I took regarding nutrition. I kept it simple: I had 2.5 litres of water in the back-pack, I had biscuits, gels and fruit paste bars. I took an S-cap on the hour for the first 3 hours. Arrival: Laguiole I'm not going to pretend that, as I left the aid station, with the climb to the highest point on the course that I was confident of finishing 100km. Perhaps this doubt would be significant. The climb was of such a slope that I found it difficult judging when to walk and when to run. We would climb some 300m in the 5km or so and I was starting to feel the gravity of my task. Three weeks back I'd made 30km. That had been tough: I had no right being here. We would soon hit the first forest section. I'd run this over and over in my head and expected shady, soft under foot, rolling terrain. Oh boy!! It was a quagmire; cut by streams and rivers, smeared with mud; glorious mud. And snow. I'm not complaining: the others managed the same crap. The others popped out the other side and vanished onto the next stage. I was to suffer. ROAD CROSSING 35km I met Ruth at a road crossing at about 35km. I'd re-taken the three back markers around me and feeling OK...she even said so must be true. I figured I'd been in a low and needed to consolidate. Slow down, get some nutrition and make the next aid station. A couple of things happened here. One guy abandoned at that crossing as I came through, and, the next stage headed brought me simultaneously into steeper terrain, colder temps and snow under foot. In truth I was out further than I'd been before by about 8km and, seeing the conditions, I told myself along that stretch that I'd done enough for today. I knew at the outset that I should have targeted a more reasonable, achievable race but no, I needed to put my name to 'the big one'. We all know what a great leveller running is I am levelled today. The final 5 km into Aubrac, the second aid station, was something of a death march. I was pulling each leg through the cycle, not driving it; catching roots and rocks as I misjudged the raise. I chugged into Aubrac, eventually, and gave Ruth and the organisers my decision and race number. Yeah, I felt bad. It was the right thing to do though. Mentally, and physically, I was on my knees here and I'd become aware of a couple of niggles from my past. The right achilles was feeling 'weird'. The icy water had taken away any loosening I'd managed around the tendon and seemed to have shortened its operation. Coupled with the extra demand in terms of movement I felt I would definitely be pushing my luck to try for the next stage of 33km. Bloody shame as it promised great scenery as it serpented through forest following the river Lot's valley side. Sitting here, 3 days on, I feel a tad of regret; the true regret is that I tried to punch above my weight. The silver lining is that I managed a slow 5km tester today with only minor discomfort around the tendon. I reckon I got away with it. I reckon I ran 47km last weekend... some 15 further than I could do before... I reckon a DNF isn't going to play on my mind too long.. What do you reckon...? For the record, it took me 8 hours to reach this point of less than half way. The winner would finish this difficult course, on this difficult day in just over 10 hours. I am speechless. In terms of organisation I can't praise enough. A well thought out route (what I saw of it), ample helpers, safe transits through villages and good marking throughout not to mention the aid station goodies on offer Big grin Happy Trails

    Shut up and run

    You'll ruin your knees!

      What do you reckon...?
      I recon you are an ultramarathoner! DNFs provide some of he most valuable lessons to be learned. The next stage, although scenic, is likely to have been worse conditions as it was near the river! Live to fight another day! Congrats on achieving a new threshold on distance and great job capturing the feelings you you battled. The race will call to you in the coming months, the call will grow louder over time and one will return to silence the voices... Rest well, Lynn B

      ""...the truth that someday, you will go for your last run. But not today—today you got to run." - Matt Crownover (after Western States)

      The Goofinator

        I reckon you did a fantastic job in tough conditions. I reckon you lived to tell the tale, you didn't push yourself into an injury. And I reckon next time you're gonna have that trail for lunch! Big grin Now if I can just figure out how to make your neck of the world a destination run . . . hmmmmm . . .

        Living and Running Behind the Redwood Curtain


        Trail Runner Nation


        Husband and father of 4

          Well done. You achieved a personal best. Cool For what it's worth, I learn a lot from you and others as you pursue goals that are ahead of mine. Thanks for the report. You already can run like a distance runner. Now remember to think like a distance runner. Metaphorically speaking, this race is like one difficlut leg of the longer race of your running life. Enjoy the aid station for a couple weeks and then get back on the trail! Wink
          Find the fun.

          Into the wild

            Thanks for reading folks. I'm already feeling my old self and looking at a 50km in July. All the best to all of you Smile Johnny

            Shut up and run