Well its finally here, my first Trail Ultra.
Having already entered a trail ultra (69 miles) running the length of Hadrians Wall in June 2012 I found this one in Paris that looked challenging (alas I didn’t realise how) and incorporated running through some great countryside. A great test to see what I need to improve for the run in June, and would give me 3 months to fix it!
I flew into Paris on Friday afternoon, picked up my number and headed to my hotel that was a couple of Metro (underground) stops from the Eiffel Tower (crawling distance).
The next morning I joined the train by the Eiffel Tower and headed out to Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines south west of Paris and the end of the C7 RER line, along with a few thousand other runners.
I knew it was going to be pretty hilly, but little did I realise exactly how hilly!
I got to the start with a couple of hours to go found a comfortable tree to sit against and sat back in the sunshine to watch runners arriving and the final preparations for the race unfold.
The important stuff is in the following video:
Breakfast at the start
I had been undecided as to whether to wear my Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek or Luna Sandals for the race, but decided to wear Luna Sandals, but with socks to give me a bit of protection from nettles etc as I didn’t really know how rough the trail would be.
I was carrying a Camelbak with 2 litres of water and other mandatory kit (waterproof, warm top, headtorch, food etc) and had decided on a fuelling strategy of 1 Shot Blok every mile which would at least give me around 200 calories an hour (you can only absorb around 240 cals an hour anyway) as against the 600 cals I was probably burning. That should hopefully stop me bonking, and not cause any stomach “distress” (polite term).
22k Aid Station
Now the bad news, alas I got to Meudon at 50k and was timed out as I had missed the cutoff by 30 minutes! I had been watching my time closely but the hills had really killed my quads, they were so steep that not only did I have to walk up them (expected) but I had to carefully walk down them as well using even more time and hammering my quads again.
I was with a crowd of runners so we all walked to the nearest train station and travelled back to the Eiffel Tower, picked up our bags and headed back to our respective hotels and a shower. After which I just went to bed as I wasn’t hungry having eaten a Shot Blok every mile for the last 7 odd hours.
Next morning, having gone straight to bed without any dinner last night I decided to treat myself to brunch in a nearby (a key requirement) Paris cafe as my first real food after a day eating only Shot Bloks. Wow did it taste good, and I didn’t care about the calories having burned 3,000 the day before!
In summary it was a great first Ultra, my Luna Sandals were great (aside from where I kicked a 1 inch iron rod on the path and will lose a toenail), and overall it really helped me understand where need to focus for the Hadrian’s Wall Ultra (http://thewallrun.com in June.
Hill training and quads of steel here I come!
P.S. The highlight of the whole run was when a stunning blonde girl on a handsome horse came galloping out of the forest wearing a low cut top. The French runner next to me (who knew I didn’t speak French) thought for a minute and commented to me in broken English “nice orse”. “Oui” I replied and we both exchanged knowing looks!
If that is the sort of hallucinations you get on Ultras, then bring them on!