Trail Runners


Verticausse: 30km trail race, France (Read 135 times)

Into the wild

    A day at the races Three different alarms were primed to alert me on this the day of the 30km trail know as The Verticausse. The extra alarms weren't necessary after all but the clocks changing that night had rattled me some.. Breakfast passed without event and the usual required motions were despatched, I was armed with maps for the drive and had ample time: so far, so good. The weather was cool, breezy but the rain was to hold off till the afternoon so I would dress to combat any chills which might catch me both on the tops of the hills and if my speed dropped off. The race is a 30km loop with 1350 metres of ascent/descent; there are to be a handful over 100 doing this run and perhaps as many on a 13km inner loop. I had indeed arrived in good time and filled it chatting with a variety of runners: one of which was a Mont Blanc Ultra finisher looking at today's run as a training outing - he wasn't alone! As usual I found myself checking everyone else out; their trainers, hydration systems, physiques and preparations. As with the trail in Villeveyrac some 6 weeks back I had no sense of foreboding; I was quietly confident that the training this year would bring me in in a decent time and with something in reserve. So, 9:30 arrives and we're off. I settle into a steady rhythm, as we leave the village the track becomes narrow and thus impossible to either pass or be passed. The track soon steepens and shows me what was in stall for the rest of the course - there is to be little comfort in terms of flat or even faux-plat but I am confident and running well with a bunch of runners. Not long after the first climb is done the trail offers a relatively flat plateau, I open up a little and start moving through the back runners, suddenly I am faced with a sign and a pair of race marshalls, this is where the 13km and 30km runners separate...I am the only 30k runner...I am actually in last position at this point with a handful of 30k'ers ahead some 300m. Still no concern; I am sure they all started too quick and I'd reel a few in as the distance passes... The kms go by, we decend toward the one water refill point at 8km, I briefly catch the back markers only to see them disappear as I restock on fluids and a good handful of sultanas, I leave the village and face a climb I imagine needing safety ropes and special clothing!! I drop to a walk, there's nothing I can do about it. I can hear the others ahead but don't quite catch them.... finally I reach the top and profit from the short-lived rolling plateau. I should point out that my pace is down the toilet and any hope of finishing inside 4 hours are dilusion. I hope for 4:30. I have a problem at this point, despite being well hydrated at the start, despite refilling at the aid station, I am going to run out of meaningful fluid with at least 10K to go...I should say that I lose fluid better that most runners, as my post-race weigh-ins demonstrate. Oh well, I decided to back off trying to run down the back markers, to settle down and enjoy the run in, all the time thinking of learning from the experience - easy said, but it was tough to keep things going. Coming off the plateau you are treated to a most splendid sight: The Millau Viaduc, in all its majesty. The course tumbles down the side of the valley through rock strewn rugged rooted single track some 150m before climbing mercilessly once more. Suddenly, as I round a corner through some trees, I come accross the back marker; it seems he is in the same position as me. We exchange pleasantries and are to play cat and mouse to the finish. With some 7km left I have little to offer, my heart is beating way up in the ionosphere and I'm out of water; I am still focused though and ready to see it through. It is now that I'm tested: as I approach a marshall at the base of the last ascent (20 min's climbing) I see another sign...this one, as before, splitting the 30km runners from the 13km runners..the marshall looks me in the eye and points out that if I feel unable to take on the last climb I could opt for the easy route home...I don't think I even gave it an instant of thought before assuring him that I was focused and would be safe. I set off not knowing whether the back marker would chose as I had. I didn't have to wait long before he caught me as I ground on in death march mode; he'd found some energy and looked keen to get it done. I did the best I could to stay with him but struggled to keep and real pace. On reaching the top I found myself attop a cliff above the village. The descent would be my salvation. I went on to catch and pass 'David' . I pulled in to the ghost town that was the finish line..there were still volunteers around and some hardy souls to clap me home; it would be nearly 5 minutes before David would cross the line. My time: 5:03:16 The winner skipped round in 2:28 Well, there it is, the not so good, the bad and the plain ugly. I learned a number of things out there on the trail. Firstly is to be truly prepared in terms of hydration and nutrition; look at the worst scenario and plan for it. Second, it doesn't feel too bad to come in last. Thirdly, don't make decisions about forthcoming races until at least 3 days have passed! A 'footnote': I ran in my Inov8 Roclite 315s and found them to be supportive, durable and light. I had no issues which is a mini-miracle after months blighted training running up to this event. A note on my hydration failure: even drinking in excess of 3 litres and munching on bread, gels and cake I lost 3 kilos on the run! That's about 7lbs.

    Shut up and run


    Husband and father of 4

      That race sounds like an accomplishment to me. Shocked Well done. That would be a tough race if training went well for it. And as you said you learned several things (without injury by the way). I enjoyed the narrative. I hope you recover well. With those shoes working for you, training for the next race ought to go better. Once again well done. It's more than I'm ready to attempt. Wink
      Find the fun.
        I enjoyed the report, too! It looks like a beautiful place to run, and a magnificent view of the bridge. Good job getting it done. Sound like a tough race, but your pace sounds similar to mine. I also am happy just to finish and enjoy myself at the same time. Thanks for sharing.
        Next up: A 50k in ? Done: California-Oregon-Arizona-Nevada (x2)-Wisconsin-Wyoming-Utah-Michigan-Colorado

        The Goofinator

          Hmmm - this race sounds vaguely familiar . . . ah, it's all the climbing you had to do! Oh, how I commiserate with you (my Pirate's Cove 30k race had similar climbing issues). I love how you looked the race marshall in the eye and defied being turned deviated from your 30k destination. Good for you! But you lost 7 lbs. during the race?? Holy cow! Shocked

          Living and Running Behind the Redwood Curtain


          Trail Runner Nation

          Into the wild

            But you lost 7 lbs. during the race?? Holy cow! Shocked
            Most of the pounds have now found their way back Wink In the interest of documenting this day out in the hills I have a copy of the will see me fall big time on the ascents.... Cry Happy trails Big grin

            Shut up and run

              Look at those last 3 splits. Way to finish up the run! Big grin
              Next up: A 50k in ? Done: California-Oregon-Arizona-Nevada (x2)-Wisconsin-Wyoming-Utah-Michigan-Colorado