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UTMB 2011 Race Report


Warning: This is a very long post .. it’s hard to do justice to a 43 hour ultra in 100 words or less.


Chamonix
As you can see from my previous posts, I arrived almost two weeks before the race started for a little R&R and to see if I could benefit from some altitude acclimatisation. The town got busier and stocks of all essential gear got scarcer .. as did the supermarket shelves in the fruit, nut and bread departments. 
The clouds roll in
Race Day
I’m up at 8am, trying desperately to get back to sleep. The race starts at 6.30pm so I really need all the rest I can get but no go. I’m wide awake. I faff around all day trying my best not to think about what I’m about to attempt that evening. The Desert King is here for support, not racing since he’s being sidelined with an injury. I pester him with my worries, mainly that there are thunderstorms predicted for the start and I really don’t want to do this now!

An update from Ryan Sandes on Facebook at about noon, and an official text a couple of hours later delay the start by 5 hours to 11.30pm:

“UTMB: important storm + cold weather + rain or snow. UTMB start at 11:30 p.m. The route doesn’t change, except Vallorcine-Chamonix by the bottom of the valley.”

Then a text update with new time barriers. The cut-off in Chamonix has been changed to 1900h, which is NOT 5 hours later than the original finish at 1630h. That means the race has been shortened to 43h 30mins to complete. Apparently one less climb and a “fast, flat” finish equals less time required .. what about us mere mortals???

It’s the first few texts of many over the next 60 hours or so.

The delayed start is actually welcome news for me. I’ve been dreading the start for the last 2 days knowing that the weather wasn’t going to be favourable, plus memories of my DNF in the Blue Mountains due to cold were not exactly encouraging. An extra 5 hours to psyche myself up then. I pack and re-pack my kit, making sure I’ve got everything. I try on all the gear I’m going to wear at the start, checking to see if I’ll be warm enough. 

Drop off my bag for Courmayeur at 4.30pm, see Lizzy Hawker chilling in the lobby of Hotel Alpina, and try not to think about what lies ahead. I’m so nervous I think I’m going to throw up. The weather is gorgeously sunny and only a hint of cloud … maybe the forecast was wrong?? One can hope!

I manage to squeeze in a short nap about 6pm, and wake up with a calm resignation. I’m doing this, no jibbing out. Just get your ass on the start line and take it from there. My pre-race meal is a filet-o-fish meal from McDonald’s .. not my usual fare, but I couldn’t think of anything else.

All wrapped up
Here’s what I’m wearing at the start:
Gore thermal beanie
Visor (to keep the rain off my headlamp!)
Buff (round my neck)
long sleeved thermal compression top
Dri-fit short sleeved top
long sleeved lightweight fleece
Gore-tex waterproof jacket with hood
long compression tights
Gore-tex waterproof pants
Falke trail socks
Brooks Cascadia 6
Sealskinz waterproof gloves
Petzl Tikka plus headlamp

I’m wrapped up like a kid learning to ski. There’s a spare Buff and gloves in my pack, but otherwise I’m wearing all the mandatory kit. Hope it’s enough!

Race Start – raining
I get suited up at 10pm, then Desert King and I walk to the start in the rain. I still feel like I’m about to throw up with nerves. At least I’m warm and dry. The start is packed with people. Nearly everyone is wrapped right up, headlamps on and trying to focus. I find a spot about 30m back from the start gantry and am quickly closed in by all the other runners. I’m standing there for nearly an hour. There are some announcements in French and then the same in English, but the accent and accoustics aren’t great so I don’t know what’s been said. Somehow I miss the start announcement in all the clamour, and then we’re off.
I have to walk the first 200m or so before the crowd thins out and I can start trying to get some momentum. It’s a little daunting starting in the dark and cold, and I concentrate on keeping warm. We run through small villages to Les Houches (8km), and I topped up some water at the drinks station. All along the way there are groups of supporters clanging cow bells and shouting encouragement. Acting on earlier advice, I get my poles out after Les Houches as we begin the climb to Delevret. I can see a line of headlamps just winding up through the trees everytime I look up. The trail is narrow and passing isn’t easy so most of us keep in line and try to keep pace with the person in front. 

My only strategy is walk uphill and try to run anything flat or downhill. Great in theory, till you realise the some descents are hardly runnable! 

Somewhere in the first 30km … still smiling despite the rain!

Saint-Gervais (21km) – still raining
After the top (14km), there’s the descent to Saint-Gervais .. no chance of taking it easy there! It’s 7km of steep downhill on mostly singletrack and grassy fields that have been soaked in the rain, then trampled on by the hordes in front. Nothing to do but slide down a very slippery slope of mud and switchbacks, do my best not to crash into anyone or cause any bodily harm with my poles. At least I had some practice in Sabah! True to form I slip and fall, but no lasting damage done given the many layers of clothing I have on. There were definitely casualties from there, and it seemed like ages before I finally got to the first aid-station at Saint-Gervais in 3:22:21. Steady does it!

Saint-Gervais feels like a sudden rush of civilisation, friendly faces everywhere, runners covered in mud filling water, grabbing food and adjusting kit. I’m momentarily confused by lights and people and forget I don’t need anything except some water. Then I remember I’m desperate for the loo and can’t see one anywhere. I have to ask a steward and he points me to the public toilets about 200m away. 

Croix du Bonhomme (45km) – will this rain ever stop???
Coming out of Saint-Gervais, it’s a gradual climb to Les Contamines (31km), then on to La Balme (39km). I make Les Contamines in 5:09:19, then up towards Notre Dame Gorge .. gradual climb, my a**! Training in pancake-flat Singapore didn’t help, but seriously, even the gradual climbs are worse than anything we have over here.

Much steeper climb to La Balme, and by now I’m grumpy, freezing and not at all certain about my chances of finishing this damn thing. My fingers start to hurt from the cold and I put on an extra pair of gloves to try and keep warm. My feet are soaked through and freezing, and I haven’t eaten as often as I would have liked due to having to keep up the pace on the narrow track and hang on to my poles at the same time. Desperate for the loo again and a relief when I finally get to La Balme in 7:02:35. It’s about 6.30 in the morning now and it’s starting to get light. After a water refill, there’s a huge bonfire on the way through the aid station which I stop at. And quickly move on from as I can already feel the pull to sit down, rest and warm up in the tantalising heat. Bugger. 

I look up and see a tiny trail of runners snaking all the way past where I can see. Even more of a bugger. Next stop is Croix du Bonhomme, the first major climb to 2500m altitude. 

I’m colder than I’ve been all night, and the higher I go, the colder I’m getting. My brain and body are both fighting to shut down and this is my lowest point so far. All I can do is concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. Small steps, try not to look up and see how the end is nowhere in sight and it just looks like we have to climb forever. I’m close to tears, hungry, and frustrated with myself at how cold I am. My fingers are stinging despite two pairs of gloves and I’m worried about frostbite. The sun is coming out, but there’s only light, no heat. Runners are passing me in droves and many ask if I’m all right .. I must look as bad as I feel! There’s snow and ice all over the terrain now, and the few times I’ve looked up it looks beautiful and brutal in equal measures.

It feels too early to have to dig so deep, but I’m thinking of all the messages of support and encouragement, of the fact that I’m the only Singaporean representative at UTMB this year and all the blood and sweat I’ve put into training to get to this point. I think about my DNF in the Blue Mountains and suck it up.

It’s nearly 2 hours from La Balme when I finally reach the top of Croix du Bonhomme. I figure I’ve been passed by about 200 runners … I find out later I’m not far off the mark at all. 

There’s no elation, just some relief as I walk across the top and try to pull some food out my top pocket. It takes me 6 tries to get anything out .. my fingers aren’t working from the cold. I opt for a piece of bak kwa (barbecued pork) for the taste and an immediate hit of calories .. and it nearly feels like the last straw when I bite into it and it’s frozen from the cold. I manage to have a few pieces and it seems to help. Just keep moving forward. I still feel like I want to quit, and I’m struggling with it. And definitely worried about frostbite .. are my fingers supposed to hurt so much??

Col de la Seigne (60km) – hail and sleet    
It’s 5km downhill to Les Chapieux on steep technical trail. There are multiple small trails that all lead the same way so not much queueing here. I try to pick up a little speed knowing I’ve lost a lot of time on that last climb, but it’s difficult given how cold and slippery everything is. Steady does it then. Still thinking about giving up. I’m really not built for the cold. 

I can see prints in the snow from runners before me, and more significantly, where they’ve lost their footing and slipped down the steep slopes. I get a little warmer as we lose altitude, and it’s nice to move with a little more momentum. The aid stop at Les Chapieux is a welcome sight and I stay there over 20 minutes trying to regroup.

So far I’ve been taking Endurolytes and Anti-Fatigue Caps together with a Hammer bar or a tube of Perpetuem Solids every hour, but climbing really doesn’t allow me to break pace for food or supplements, so now I take a double dose of supplements every couple of hours or whenever I can, and get ready to eat if I’m going downhill or at an aid station. I’ve worked out my essential list at each aid stop – Water, Toilet, Food, Stones (WTFS .. worked for me!) in that order. I just refill whatever it looks like I’ve drunk, run to the loo (the cold is not helping with this, but at least I’m well hydrated!), try and eat a bar or some Solids, and remember to tip the stones out of my shoes … that’s what happens when you decide not to wear gaiters! I haven’t had anything apart from water at the aid-stations, but it looks like they’re well-stocked, with sweet and savoury tables clearly marked.

And then we’re climbing again. I look at my laminated map (best idea ever!) and this nearly takes away my will to go on .. we’re headed back up to 2500m … get ready to freeze again. This time it’s worse. Despite being daylight, it’s sleeting and hailing and my gloves are icing over. The climb is brutal and soul-sapping, and takes me 3 hours to get to the top. I thought there was an aid stop there and was using the lure of a cup of hot soup to get keep me going. Everything I whined about the climb to Croix du Bonhomme? Triple my misery on this one. And another 200 or so pass me. Not that I actually care at this point. 



β€œDripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.” – Ovid 

That was a shared with me a day before the start (thanks, Lars!), and one I clung to for most of the race. One step at a time, just keep moving forward. Even if it’s on autopilot. Every step forward is one step closer to the finish. It’ll take more than a bloody mountain to break me, but at this point it’s a very close call.

It literally takes everything I have to get to the top. I’m so cold I really think my brain has decided to shut down to save itself. There’s no aid-station at the top. Just a large yellow North Face Tent, a giant transparent plastic box and a few amazingly enthusiastic marshalls scanning runners’ bibs, telling everyone it’s 5km downhill to the aid-station. That’s when I burst into tears. I’m desperate for warmth and a little respite, and I cannot describe my despair when I get there and realise I have to keep going. But I do. There’s nothing for it. If I lingered I’d freeze to death, no drama about it, I was honestly that cold. Just keep moving forward. I AM dripping water. Me and my nose.
Snow and sleet at the top of Col de la Seigne. Photo credit 
Warming up on the downhill, feeling a little better with a bit of speed, and when I get into the aid station at Lac Combal (65km) I feel almost human again. My first taste of some hot soup, coke, and a few slices of salami. The sun is shining and I sit on the grass to tip the stones out of my shoes. 

I also get a text that reads: “Course change after Champex, Bovine inaccessible due to a deterioration after bad weather yesterday. Track deviated by Martigny. =170km, 9700mD+”

It doesn’t sink in till later that means the course is now longer and higher.

I leave the aid station reluctantly and head uphill again. Back up to 2435m altitude, but the sun is blazing now and my billion layers are making me overheat. I stop by the side and take off my waterproofs and fleece .. that’s better .. and then have to stop 200m further uphill to put my waterproof jacket on again. It gets cold fast when you gain altitude! Some chatty Spanish guys keep pace with me and it’s the best climb so far to the Arete du Mont-Favre.

Downhill to Col Checrouit and I get a text from Desert King to say he’ll see me in Courmayeur. Nothing like knowing there’s a friendly face waiting for you to pick your spirits up! Plus I also got a text from him that said “Pain is temporary, but your race result posted on the internet is FOREVER.” Yep, thanks.


Courmayeur (78km) – it’s not raining anymore!!!
It takes me nearly 2 hours running downhill to get to Courmayeur, including my stop at Col Checrouit. I’m mindful of my quads starting to feel sore from descending and hope I’m not blowing them up too soon. The run down is still technical in some places and I say a prayer of thanks that I’m still in one piece so far! 
Courmayeur … Yay!!
Running through the town to Courmayeur checkpoint .. clean clothes ahead!

 

Coming into Courmayeur is uplifting. The sun is shining, I’m warm at last, and I know I can take a short break to regroup for the next half. By all accounts, that’s where the difficult bits really are. Yikes. There are groups of people cheering and waving, shouting “Bravo!” and “Allez!” as they have been all along the way. I run into the checkpoint, Desert King is there waving and taking pictures as I pick up my kit bag and head indoors. At all the checkpoints there is a separate area for runners with support crew so that they don’t impede those running alone. Desert King can’t follow me upstairs to the main aid station area (looks like carnage all around), so I change out of my wet stuff (yep, still wet after 17 hours!) and head back downstairs for some moral support. 

I’m glad I put everything in ziploc bags as I’ve since heard reports of runners getting their halfway bag only to realise everything inside is soaked. So good to have dry socks again! 

So now I’m in new kit:
Clean visor
Clean Buff
lightweight long sleeved thermal top (the weather’s supposed to get better)
Dri-Fit short sleeved top
3/4 compression tights
calf compression
Falke trail socks
Cascadia 6 (same shoes. Opted not to change as I prefer these to the spares I packed)

My jacket, waterproof pants, fleece and gloves have to stay with me as part of mandatory kit, but the stinky wet stuff gets sent back to Chamonix in my kit bag. Yippee! I eat as much as I can whilst trying to relay the last 17 hours to Desert King without spitting food all over him. Dried mango, Hammer bar, 500ml of Recoverite, bak kwa and some supplements. Then a marshall comes over to warn me about the time. I’ve spent nearly an hour at Courmayeur! I’m off in a bit of a hurry, and it’s a climb immediately out of the checkpoint. I remember thinking “Wow, there must be a lot of Italian tourists here” as I heard cheers of “Brava!” being shouted …  I only twigged a lot later that I’d entered Italy.

Arnuva (95km) – cold again πŸ™
I find a rhythm and just plod ahead, now catching up with a few people and trying to make some ground. The walking poles are a godsend (thanks, Bernard!) and I somehow tap into some new energy and make good progress to Refuge Bertone (82km). I don’t want to break pace now and leave it too late to put my warm stuff  back on (we’re back up to 1989m) and have to find a sheltered spot to put my kit on. The wind has a real bite to it and everyone else is stopping to put their warm kit on as well. I can’t believe how quickly my disposition changes when I get cold. Not quite so enthusiastic now.

I stop for water and hot soup .. it really is cold and windy now and there’s very little shelter at the checkpoint. I meet Seow Kong, a Malaysian chap who was doing the race in Vibram Five Fingers. He’s looking strong, and we head towards Refuge Bonatti (90km) together. He then goes on ahead as I linger there a while, trying to warm up with more soup. It’s getting dark now and I’ve got my headlamp out. 

I lose my rhythm with the fading light and soon I’m going slower than I should. I drop back from the small group of runners I’m trying to keep pace with as I fight sleep. My eyes keep closing and I can’t focus on the trail. My headlamp’s not bright enough and this is making me feel even more drowsy. I have to stop to get a caffeine tablet as I can’t get it out with my gloves on and poles attached. I lose the pod of runners in front and am quickly overtaken by another group not far back. Not good at all. I hang on to the tail end of the second group as best I can and will myself to wake up.

Someone came past at speed shouting in French about cut-off times. The cut-off at Arnuva is 2245h. I have 30 minutes and I’m not sure how far I have to go. At this point I’m still in two minds about finishing. It’s cold and I’m miserable again. Someone ahead says we’ll never make it in time. I know if I keep this current pace my UTMB attempt is over. I think the caffeine kicks in then and I pick up my pace. It’s downhill in the dark now and I’m doing my best to shout a warning in French as I try to pass runners on the singletrack. I have to at least try. I can’t face a DNF if I don’t at least try to get there in time. I gain momentum and run like a crazy person. I can see lights through the trees and hear the shouts of encouragement .. 5 minutes to go .. not sure if I’ll make it! I give everything I have to get there within the cut-off, to hell with my quads! A runner I pass shouts to tell me I’m crazy and I’ll never make it .. aaaaaaarghh! I’m there!

The checkpoint marshall tells me it’s 2245h exactly, and I have 30 minutes before I have to leave the aid station because they EXTENDED THE CUT-OFF TO 2315h. Thanks for not texting me about that change!!! I nearly broke my neck running downhill to make it on time! Still, I’m relieved my race is still on and have a cup of coke to celebrate. I see Seow Kong again and we decide to set off together for the next bit. It’s very cold now, dark and we now face a 4km climb to Grand Col Ferret at 2537m.

La Fouly (110km)  
I think my mad dash to Arnuva and the caffeine tablet I took really gave me a new lease of life for the next section. I found a rhythm quickly and really put some effort into climbing as quick as I could. I lost Seow Kong soon after we started our ascent, and kept pace with an old Japanese chap who was going strong. 

Looking up, all you see is a trail of lights winding up towards the summit. Its almost depressing, but somehow it felt that I was past that point now. I was fired up and feeling strong .. or just temporarily caffeine-fuelled. Everytime I looked up there were still miles of lights ahead. But I really was climbing hard, passing people and pressing forward. Halfway up I stepped off-course to wake a Japanese runner who’d fallen asleep by a small hut. It was so cold he’d have been in danger of hypothermia if he’d stayed too long. Plus he’d gone off the track and I only saw him by chance with my headlamp when I turned round to have a look.

It felt like we climbed forever, and then some. Finally at the top, I was still freezing, fingers stinging from the cold, but chuffed to bits I made it up in good time and looking forward to the downhill stretch to La Fouly. Definitely in good spirits again! Desert King sends a text of encouragement and says he’ll see me in Trient. Something to look forward to!

It’s not long before I realise it’s getting painful to descend and I think the caffeine is wearing off as my spirits and speed start to flag again. I’m alone again, can’t remember what happened to the runners round me, but I feel I’m going steady anyway. I take another caffeine pill as my eyes won’t stay open and I pass  runners on the side of the trail trying to rest. Just. Keep. Moving. Forward.

What I thought was a downhill stretch turned out to be anything but. In the dark and with my fatigue I feel increasingly cheated and frustrated. Where the hell is La Fouly and how come I’m climbing again?? I thought I should’ve been there ages ago. A quick time check shows I’m dangerously close to the checkpoint cut-off and it’s nowhere to be seen. I don’t want it to end like this. Then we’re descending again. Signs to La Fouly emerge as I come out onto a road.  I meet the old Japanese guy and another chap checking their maps on the side of the road and they follow me. We’re all running now and checking our watches. Deja vu. Maybe they extended the cut-off here too. Can’t risk it though. Run faster. 

I make it into La Fouly with 5 minutes to spare. They didn’t extend the cut-off. I had time to grab a bottle of water and left the aid-station to fill up outside. If you’re still in the aid station at the cut-off time your race is over. 

Champex-Lac (124km)
I fall in with a small group of runners and we make our way to Champex. We have 4 hours to cover 14km. We go steady and somehow I lose all but one. Jean-Marc is keeping me entertained and distracted whilst we try to make it to Champex on time. I’m extremely grateful for his company and he lifts my spirits a little as we try to make it through our second night on the trail.

After Praz de Fort it’s a climb to Champex. It helps that dawn is breaking and I find a bit more energy. Our time is a little tight but if we keep pace we should get to Champex with about 20 minutes to spare. Starting the climb to Champex, I’m wondering why there’s a bunch of sheep corralled in what looks like a roller-skating rink. As I run past them and take a closer look, they’re all just part of the rock face. Same with the giant banners I think are hanging from the sky. Cliff face and tree bits. My first hallucinations .. just a bit freaky!

As it gets lighter I’m moving faster and lose Jean-Marc as we’re nearing Champex. It’s a relief to finally get there, especially with the false alarm checkpoint 2km before the aid station. A chap with some music playing and a bib scanner bleeps you in and tells you it’s 2km to go … depressing or what! Finally at Champex, I’m freezing, starving, desperately need the loo and not sure what to do first. I have 30 minutes before the cut-off. WTFS!

I sort myself out, drink more coke and opt for a plate of pasta with meat sauce and cheese. I’ve never had pasta taste so good! The warmth and sustenance was uplifting and I’m ready to go again. I have no idea what lies ahead now. The course is changed and we had another update on cut-off times, pushing the final cut-off in Chamonix to 2100h .. which means we have a grand total of 45h 30 mins to complete this.

Trient   
There is a huge descent to Martigny, nearly 2 hours of steep downhill on singletrack. I don’t know what to expect and how far it will be so all I can do is run. My map is now useless as the course is different from here on in. The pasta and coke from champex have given me a new surge and I speed up as much as I can, passing people along the way. It feels like I’m running way too fast with 50+km to go, but I’m feeling good, so what the hell. I’m running downhill like I was chasing the cut-off at Arnuva and getting high on it. It felt so good to fly past people, so many of whom were in pain from the descent. I finally got to some kind of checkpoint that I hoped was Trient .. no such luck! Another 12km to Trient. Quick water refill and a cup of coke for a boost, and I’m off. I’ve got some momentum again and 12km before moral support awaits at Trient.
The Martigny vineyards. We started down by the river, having descended from the other side.
Then I see Martigny rise up in front of me. Oh crap. The sun is out now and it looks like an endless climb in blazing heat.  Luckily, I’m feeling good. I take my cue from everyone else around and peel off my waterproof layers. This is going to be hot. I channel Grand Col Ferret and get going. The faster I go, the faster I’ll get to the top, right? It’s all on road with switchbacks through the vineyards now as we make our way up to Martigny. I’m still passing people and feeling great. Mind over matter, here we go. Somewhere along the way I’m followed up a climb by a Japanese TV cameraman. I tell him I’m not Japanese (I’ve been mistaken for Japanese all along the way). He knows. He’s excited for me and asks lots of questions before letting me go on alone.
Up and over, the trail evens out and it’s rolling terrain for a bit. Where’s this extra altitude then? Should be Bovine and more. Somehow I doubt my text is wrong. Everything with this race so far points to taking the harder route if given the choice. My suspicions are confirmed when we finally roll out of Martigny. The road just goes up. Very up. And steeply so. Nothing for it but to keep moving forward. How much longer can 12km take me? 

Something’s changed for me. I think finally knowing the end is within reach, the weather looking great and being warm at last just made all the difference. We had to climb to the top of Col Forclaz, one of the trail signs I passed said 2h 40mins to the summit. I think that’s an estimate based on a steady hike, but there was no way I wanted to climb for that long, so I pushed hard. I passed loads of runners on the ascent to Col Forclaz, and that fuelled me to push even harder. The trail just seemed to go up forever, and after an absolute age of climbing, I could finally see small groups of supporters at the top, shouting and cheering. I was making good time too! One of the guys I passed near the top said Trient was an hour  downhill from the top, but I could make it in 30 minutes if I ran. And I did. In 20mins. 
Coming into Trient
Coke break and 37 hours on the go so far.
Being told I have 25km left
I was pumped and stoked and grinning like a cheshire cat coming into Trient. Tickled to see Desert King and delighted when he confirmed that I was making good time and taking back places. A quick check to see how far I had to go .. 25km left. More than I hoped but definitely doable. I’d gotten there in 37 hours .. and wondered if sub-40 was still possible. Then Desert King says it took Lizzy Hawker nearly 5 hours from Trient to Chamonix. Okay, maybe 42 hours would be more realistic. Anyway, the end was in sight. Now to see if I had anything left. I hadn’t eaten much apart from a few Solids tablets and coke at every checkpoint. Didn’t feel like it, but I forced down some pasta soup at Trient before heading out again.
Getting rid of stones in my shoes .. next time use gaiters!
Catogne – Vallorcine – Argentiere – Chamonix
The last stretch is a bit of a blur. I remember just trying to go as hard as I could, fast hiking any uphills and running all flats and descents. Even the steep ones. I knocked back some coke at each checkpoint and tried to get some food in at Vallorcine. I remember thinking I’m starting to run on empty now, but it was increasingly hard to keep anything down apart from a few Solids. And I didn’t want to stop to eat.

The last bit to Chamonix still took me the better part of 6 hours, but it was quick for me. The fast, flat finish that was promised turned out to be part of the Petit Balcon Sud I’d run several times in the week before during training. Not exactly flat. Or particularly fast. The trail was quite technical, you had to watch where you put your feet and it always went up just when you thought you were in for a break. Still, it was good knowing where I was and the fact that I’d run it in training was an added bonus. Somwhere along the way I realised sub-43h was within reach .. obviously I’d had to re-adjust my goals along the way!

The relief at seeing Chamonix town and knowing I had less than 1km to go was amazing. And it was still daylight! I’d already been running like a crazy person, this felt like the last 10km of GNW when everything seemed to kick in and pain was no longer an option. I ran as hard as I could and get chased by the Japanese cameraman as I came into the town. He’s absolutely delighted for me and runs with me for a bit, still filming as he goes.

Desert King’s photo composition skills need a bit more work .. πŸ˜‰
I see Desert King as I reach the Sports Centre. He’s cheering and taking photos at the same time. I have the biggest grin on my face ever. It’s about 500m to the finish and I’ve already started kicking. Still passing runners on the way and I’ve never felt so good. I’m buoyed by all the cheers from spectators lining the streets. Past the river, through the town, I’m sprinting now, hi-fiving all the kids standing on the sides with their hands outstretched.  
42 hours, 53 minutes and 10 seconds. I’ve done it. I had serious doubts I would for over half the course, and this has to be the hardest event I’ve ever done. I’ve had to dig so deep and be so honest with myself, it really stripped everything down to the bare bones. 

My elation as I cross the finish line is amazing. I feel like I’ve been tested to my absolute limits, and I’m completely knackered … but happy. The best feeling ever. I did it. I DID IT!!!!!! 
My chocolate medal from the cake shop … yum!
Would I do it again?
Apart from forgetting my compression socks for the plane ride home the next day (resulting in swollen feet!), my recovery was pretty quick and I’ve had no real aches or soreness at all. No blisters or abrasions either despite having wet feet for the better part of 17 hours. I’ve dived straight back into a whirlwind of work and training since I got back from Chamonix over two weeks ago, but the elation is still there even though I haven’t had much time to think about it since I got back. I grin and have a giggle to myself when I remember .. I’m absolutely tickled.


Thanks to coach Pete Roper for my training program .. it made a huge difference and my physical fitness was never in question throughout the race. And to Charles and Co at Hammer Nutrition for their continued support – best sports nutrition and supplements by far! Big hugs to all those who sent messages of support, happy thoughts and prayers for strength and safety. I really did feel the love when I needed it the most. Huge thanks to Desert King for being there to witness my fear, check my splits and remind me that pain is temporary.

And most of all, I give thanks and remember that “With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) and “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Would I do it again? Not likely. UTMB was an epic experience, and it will be a long time before I choose to put myself through something so brutal again. I’m satisfied with being able to tick it off my list. There are far too many interesting events for me to invest so much of myself in this one again. I loved Chamonix though, so I’d go as a spectator … or maybe the CCC .. or the TDS … πŸ˜‰ 
Post-race dinner .. a huge wedge of melted raclette

There’s a bunch of videos here that will give you an idea of what it was like out there. 
Race reports from Hal Koerner, Krissy Moehl, Scott Jaime, Geoff Roes, Scott Jurek and Nick Clark.

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Retail therapy …

Start gantry is up!

Short run today, only 5 miles. The trouble with being in Chamonix is that the only way is up. Literally. So whatever the distance schedules, I can pretty much expect to run uphill for the first half and then back down to where I started. Today I explored a little more of the Petit Balcon Sud (Small South Balcony), trying to keep upright and not trip over the zillion tree roots and loose rock on the trail. I’m quite sore from my fall yesterday .. think I called more muscles into play to arrest my fall than I realised. Rest day tomorrow!

Another sunny day in the alps and no breeze for respite, but nothing a couple of cold drinks and ice-cream couldn’t remedy! πŸ™‚ I spent the rest of the day having a leisurely wander round town.

Cheese and deli shops everywhere … yum!

Haribo heaven!

L’universe de Bon Bon (World of Sweets) .. one of my fave shops here!
Then I made the fatal mistake of looking in Ravanel, a great little shop run by Thierry that stocks everything you need for UTMB and more … needless to say, my credit card got a workout today too. Thierry is involved in the UTMB organisation (he’s done the route over 130 times now, and certainly sounds like he’s knows it well) and answered all my questions with great advice and a good range of product options. (I needed a pair of gloves and a warm hat .. honest! My other warm hat makes me look like a gnome.) The new rules for obligatory equipment this year have included items not in previous years’ lists, mainly due to the disastrous weather last year, so everyone’s going to end up carrying a lot more than they got away with last year. 

Ravanel was the only store that had these in my size .. yay! (And they’re obviously an ‘Ultra’ glove!)
Anyway, I came away with a great hat (that doesn’t make me look like a gnome), a pair of Sealskinz waterproof gloves, a pair of Salomon EXO IV 3/4 tights, and (drumroll …) the Salomon XT Advanced Skin S-Lab 12 pack! It’s exactly like the 5-litre version, just big enough to stash all the extra stuff required for longer races. There are stow pockets and storage compartments everywhere, and I can’t wait to try it out! There were only 600 produced for France, and Thierry’s now down to his last few .. I’m taking orders if anyone wants one, let me know! They’re 165 Euro, but I get 10% off for being a UTMB participant. 

Front & back
Side view and unzipped

There’s a detachable divider in the main compartment .. easy access with a zip that goes all the way round .. zipped pocket in the front mesh bit .. small zipped pocket on top .. zipped side pockets and new elasticated side pockets (these are going to be SO handy!) .. and all the usual bits that come with the original version. I know you’re not supposed to try anything new for a race, but I’ve just over a week to trial this so I think it’ll be fine. The main thing is that it fits like a glove, much better than my XA 10+3 .. at least I don’t have to worry about chafing from my pack now!
While I was upstairs debating which hat was the least gnome-like, one of the sales assistants yelled up to Thierry that “Monsieur Scott” had arrived … none other than ultra-god Scott Jurek! I was too star-struck to ask for a pic, and managed to squeak hello. Thierry just grinned and said that I should come by more often as most of the elite runners are there regularly during the week, including Krissy Moehl, the 2009 female winner of UTMB. Not that I need an excuse to go back … I’ve already got a list of stuff on my wish list .. I’m guessing I’ll be spending more time and money there in the near future!
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Countdown to UTMB!

Okay, here we go! 10 days and counting to the start of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc .. 167km of mountainous mayhem and 9500m of elevation for my woefully prepared legs.

The course profile looks like this: (yikes!)

The last few months have been truly crazy busy and I haven’t had much time to breathe let alone do any race prep! I’m arrived in Chamonix yesterday afternoon, so now it’s time to get some much needed rest and sort my race head out. Not that I expect to do a lot of racing .. πŸ™‚ Completing is the main goal, under 40 hours would be good .. any time with a ‘3’ in the front would make my day(s!). I have 46 hours to finish, as long as I make the cut-off times at each check-point as well, but I really prefer not to be out there for the whole 46 hours .. that would make for a very long day out.
I’ve borrowed Bernard’s magic sticks .. I was told my tiny Raidlight folding poles might be too flimsy for the mighty Mont Blanc .. who am I to argue? The only elevation I get here is the minuscule Bukit Timah Hill at 174m high .. and my weekly showdown with the hill program on the treadmill at the gym. Time to get some practice in then!

View from my balcony

It’s been a couple of glorious days here in Chamonix so far .. the sun’s been shining and it feels like a proper summer here … and the shops are chock full of tempting technical gear … looks like my credit card’s in for an ultramarathon as well! πŸ™‚

The town itself is chocolate-box quaint .. I was last here for a brief visit about a decade ago so it’s nice to have the time to explore at my leisure.

Went out for a short run this evening to see how cold it would be .. the race starts at 6.30pm .. it’s not freezing, but when the sun goes in I reckon I’ll get pretty cold. My ears and fingers were definitely feeling a nip despite running uphill for an hour. … And they’d just put up the start gantry, which I ran under .. just for the cheap thrill of being the first runner though! πŸ™‚ I did notice that I’m feeling very parched all the time and my breathing felt laboured very early on. I’m blaming the altitude as my legs felt fine so hopefully all will be back to normal in a few days.

On my way home I ran past a store which had the new Salomon XT Advanced Skin 12 pack … but they were closed and I’ll have to go back tomorrow. I couldn’t fit all the mandatory kit into the XT 5 pack, so I had to use my XA 10+3 pack instead. This could be a great find as I love the fit of the XT 5 .. just needed more carrying capacity for this event.

Mont Blanc itself is stunning. It’s breathtaking and I’m finding it hard not to keep gawking at it. I’ve taking a grand total of 25 pictures since I got here and 22 were of the mountain. You just can’t help it.

Off for a much longer run tomorrow and a little more acclimatisation. The countdown begins! 

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A bump in the road

There’s me thinking I’m feeling strong, running well, and out of the blue I’m sidelined with my first injury in over a decade of running (yes, I’m that old!). Not the best timing, but it’s 12 weeks to UTMB so there’s still all to play for. Thing is, I haven’t had a running injury since I started triathlon in 1993! Injuries from falling over or crashing into stuff, yes. But from running? Not that I can remember. So despite knowing all the theory of rest, ice, compress, reduce mileage blah blah blah, I find myself in a novel situation and having to find alternative coping mechanisms to deal with this. It’s been 5 days and I feel like a junkie with withdrawal symptoms.

Had an increasing pain in my left foot since last Thursday, after my first trail run since coming back from TNF100 Oz. I didn’t have any pain when running so carried on with my scheduled runs including the Passion Run at the weekend. The pain got worse with walking each day, enough to cause me concern as any soreness I get from running is usually gone the next morning at the very latest.

Rest day on Monday – pain still there.
6 mile tempo on Tuesday – missed on coach’s advice
16 mile run on Wednesday – also missed .. finally manage to get an appointment with Simon Raftery at In Touch Physio. Going a little crazy by now from the enforced rest and worrying about lost mileage .. argh.

Simon reckons it’s plantar fasciitis, with an inflamed posterior tibial tendon .. hopefully in the early stages and nothing torn, but no running till Monday … I’m losing 77 miles this week! One of the main causes of plantar fasciitis is “repetitive loading on the feet from long-distance running, especially running downhill or on uneven surfaces”, and “shoes with poor arch support or soft soles” .. Guilty on all counts.

I think the crazy terrain at TNF Oz gave me more of a souvenir than I bargained for .. especially after conditioned to the gentle undulations at MacRitchie! Plus I rarely wear shoes with more than minimal cushioning, and my stretching regimen does leave a lot to be desired .. it’s all come round to bite me on the ass now! .. or should that be on the foot .. πŸ˜‰

Anyhow. I’ve orders to do a daily mountain of stretches, I’m going to make friends with the exercise bike at the gym, and I have to wear arch supports all week, including inside the house, till my next physio date. I’m now the proud owner of a pair of Salomon Rx Break flip flops .. my new house slippers! According to Salomon, they’re “a performance recovery shoe for trail running disguised as a light weight flip flop. RX Break helps your feet recover from the end of your run until you’re chilling in the hammock.” Just what the doctor ordered, then! now I just have to get a hammock …

Salomon Rx Break .. great house slippers with arch support πŸ™‚

All this enforced rest means I have time to twiddle my thumbs and read the latest issue of Trail Runner ..

A welcome distraction …

To add insult to injury, my lovely new Inov-8s have arrived .. the X-Talon 190s. Aren’t they gorgeous? Inov-8 shoes will be available in Singapore from about next week at Adventure 21, other retailers to be revealed soon. Some of models here will be the Flyroc and the Roclite in men’s and women’s sizing, perfect for TNF100 Singapore in October! I’ve had the Flyroc for a while now, and it’s a great trail shoe, lightweight and very grippy. I’ll post a review on the X-Talons once I’m back on the trail .. can’t wait!

So hopefully this is just a bump in the road (trail!) to recovery and the UTMB. I’ll post my report on TNF Oz and the Passion run in the next week or so. In the meantime, I’m stretching till my calves burn, hitting the gym, and planning my next long run .. whenever that may be!

Hope everyone stays injury free and all the best for the Sundown Marathon this weekend!

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UTMB training week 1

UTMB training has begun! I’ve faffed around with running random distances since recovering from my kite crash … anything less than 2 hours didn’t feel right … and thought I’d better pull my finger out and get started on a proper program.
I’ve been speaking to Pete Roper the ‘Off-Road Guru’, and he’ll be drawing up my training schedule for the next few months leading up to UTMB. I first saw Pete at the 2009 Endurancelife Classic Quarter. He took off like a shot at the start (bearing in mind this is a very challenging 44 mile trail run on the Cornish coast path), and finished with a convincing win and a new course record. Impressive stuff! So I figure Pete’s the right person to be helping me with my lead-up to UTMB.
So the next four weeks look pretty steady, 6 runs a week and a day off after a long weekend session. This is my base training so only 55-65 miles a week at the moment, but all runs except the speed session to be done with a full pack. I’ve loaded up with 3kg at the moment, bringing the weight to 5kg with 2 litres of water on board as well. Welcome back, boys! … I name my bags of rice/sugar after my favourite men to give me a little more motivation when they start to feel like a dead weight. I end up ‘talking’ to them on long runs as well .. it’s much more fun thinking I’ve got Hugh Jackman as a running companion, even though I have to ‘carry’ him! πŸ˜‰
This means RTI HK is off the menu .. too much too soon. I’ve had to give this one up in light of the bigger picture πŸ™ .. but there’s always next year! 

The Boys!
As you can see from the pic, my running mates will the the delightful Mr. Hugh J. (yes, if you say it fast it sounds like ‘huge’ … ;)), and my new hero, the Desert King (STILL waiting for the teapot dance, by the way!). They’re with me for the next 6 months or so whether I like it or not, so enjoy the ride, boys! πŸ˜€
Lovely and sweaty after a loop on the trail πŸ™‚
Had a lovely run yesterday on the trail with Ultrababe Paulina. She’s soon-to-be Ironbabe as well and will debut her transition skills at Ironman WA 2011. It was my first run with a fully loaded pack as well, I’ve got aching shoulders today to prove it! πŸ™‚ 
Took the cheetah skirt out for a spin as well, they’re working well and I find myself trying to get the skirts washed in time for the next run rather than pull on a pair of shorts … time to get some more skirts, then!
I’m attending a navigation clinic on Saturday for the Sabah Ultra Trail run. The route is entirely self-navigated and I’m likely to find myself in the arse end of nowhere if left to my own devices. The organisers have teamed up with Edge Adventure Sports to provide clinics for the adventure racers and runners, lucky for me! So fingers crossed by Saturday evening I’ll be able to find my way round the course in Sabah next month and not end up discovering a new tribe in the deepest part of the jungle. 
Saturday night is also the start of the Twilight Ultra Challenge, 16 hours on a 10km loop course at East Coast. Not quite my cup of tea (it’s completely flat) but kudos to those who have signed up! We’ll rock up during the night to offer some support, and grab some of Ah Hwee’s fabulous chicken wings from the Lagoon Food Centre, no doubt. Happy running, everyone!
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Altitude training … suggestions please!

The Atacama Crossing is underway! For the record, I am not racing in Atacama at the moment .. but I will someday! The previous post on the race was to drum up some support for the Singapore-based participants Thaddeus Lawrence and The Desert King. The race is run at altitude, the highest elevation being 3000m.

This got me thinking about my training for the UTMB .. where there’s about 9500m (yikes!) of positive altitude change. We start at 1000m, and the highest peaks are about 2500m, so training in pancake flat Singapore is a bit of a problem considering our highest ‘peak’ is 164m (no, I didn’t leave out any zeroes).

UTMB Course Profile

After some research, I figure I could go to Genting and train, hopefully an affordable option both time and money-wise, and the elevation is between 1000m and 1800m at the top.

So, here’s where I need some input. Anyone knows of any runs in that area (trail or road .. preferably trail) that would be safe to do alone? Any other locations which are possible for altitude training would be appreciated (Must be accessible and affordable from Singapore). Also, any recommendations for places to stay? I figure I could stay at one of the Genting resorts like First World Hotel and just run loops from there. Anyone keen to do this as well let me know! Cheers!

BTW, take a look at DO‘s post on barefoot running and this one at Birthday Shoes on starting barefoot running and barefoot running in ultramarathons. Still doing my daily barefoot runs and trying very hard to be patient about this!

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Running bare .. my first steps!

Look, the Tarahumara wear skirts too! But also note the difference in foot strike between two amazing runners.
I’d read Chris McDougall’s book Born To Run late last year, in which he chronicles his search for the answer to “Why does my foot hurt”. In it he explores the life and running habits of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyon, arguably the greatest distance runners in the world. It’s brought barefoot running to the public arena and added fuel to the growing number of barefoot running converts. I see loads of runners in Vibram Five Fingers on the trail and at the races, so I’d say it’s definitely taken root in Singapore.


I’ve been thinking about barefoot running for a while now, but with wanting to qualify for UTMB last year, I really didn’t want to make any drastic changes. So I thought I’d make a start this year, before things really ramped up.


Also, I’ve just ordered a pair of Inov-8 X-Talon 190 .. touted as the world’s lightest XC and mountain shoe. There’s a 3mm heel-toe drop (the differential between the heel (9mm) and forefoot (6mm) height – the lower the number the ‘flatter’ the shoe) and it’s very minimalist for the terrain it’s designed for. I’d like to be able to use it for the UTMB so I thought I’d better get my skates on (… or would that be off?) and get used to some barefoot running.




Inov-8 X-Talon 190 … fierce or what!

I only wear lightweight trainer/racers, anything from the Adidas Adizero range. I clocked up 1700 miles (2720 km) of injury-free running last year and I don’t think I’ve had a running injury in the last 15 years I’ve been running. I don’t bother changing my shoes too much either. When they get worn out they feel better than when they were new. However, a zero heel drop is quite a significant difference from what I’ve been used to so far, definitely time to start some specific strengthening.


I took a look at The Running Barefoot website … there’s a lot of information there and I didn’t read a lot of it (eyes too tired!) I just skimmed the key words ‘relax’ and ‘high knees’ and figured that would do for a 5 minute test run.

So yesterday evening I ran to the local track, a 440m painted path just by the community centre. Took my shoes and socks off, put them in my pack, and ran. 

…  and you know what? Even though I was running on flat ground, at a peak time when all the local residents are out in force, and it was the furthest thing from a trail that you could think of … I loved it. 

While I was taking off my shoes I remember thinking,”Okay, high knees and relax!” .. and then I was off. I must’ve had a huge grin on my face, but it felt so natural and liberating to be running round the track barefoot with no heel strike. Somehow I clicked right into it, and it felt exactly right. Keeping my knees high was definitely the way to go, and that led to a natural forefoot strike just like I hoped. No jarring, didn’t feel like there was any negative impact or pain.


I only planned a 5 minute run to get used to it, but I was having so much fun I ran for 15 minutes averaging 8 min/mile. I stopped because my toes were starting to feel tender and I didn’t want them to blister. The stares I got from the walkers, joggers and local soccer players warming up were hilarious. They all did a double take when they saw me running with bare feet. Maybe my fuschia nail polish had something to do with it as well. Wait till they see me in my skirt!

Fuschia toes .. great camouflage for missing or black toenails!



Now I’m writing this, my toes are still a little sore and I’m researching which pair of Vibram Five Fingers will suit me best (I’m thinking Bikila). Any suggestions? I can’t wait to try running run barefoot on the trail but I think having some form of protective cover would be prudent … plus I’d end up having crocodile feet with all the hard skin I’d have to develop! It’d be no fun at all if I had to stop after 15 minutes either! I figure I’ll do 15 minutes each day for a week, then see if I can manage 30 minutes without blistering my toes. Stay tuned!

The apple crocodiles had the grape bunnies backed up against the pineapple wall …  was this the end for the hapless hoppers?
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Running skirts, anyone?

This week’s been a little crazy so far, lots of things happening and life is starting to get very interesting indeed!

Was worried I’d be paying dearly for the run (and stairmaster workout!) on Sunday without any training to speak of, but looks like my body’s remembered how to recover now and I’ve managed a 10-15 mile trail run everyday so far. I’m dreading starting the speedwork though .. scheduled to start next week. I’d much rather run 30miles steady than have to go at lung-busting effort for 300m! Still, no pain, no gain, right? And with TNF100 Oz coming up soon and my ultimate goal of UTMB in August … I’m thinking if I don’t suffer now I’ll really be paying the price when I do those events.

Time to suck it up, Fat Bird! … good thing I work well under pressure πŸ˜‰

I’m also working through my post-mortem list of the GNW100s to see what I need to change. First off was the shorts chafing issue … unpleasant to say the least! My Under Armour run shorts had been great throughout my training and racing, even for the TNF 100k, so I had no reason to expect them start chafing me at about 120km into the GNW100s. But, life’s no fun without challenges, right? So I ended up cutting the lining out of the shorts and that was enough of a remedy to get me through the last 54km or so.
Fab or what! (Picture: Running Skirts)

I’ve started looking at alternatives this week. I am averse to running in tights of any length due to potential camel-toe issues and just how inconvenient they’d be if I needed to answer the call of nature. Yes, I mean pee … or worse! πŸ˜€ When you run ultramarathons on trail it’s highly unlikely that the organisers will be able to put portaloos at regular intervals … some of the checkpoints are only accessible by foot! So it’s a reality that needs to be addressed .. keeping well hydrated does have it’s consequences, as well as deciding to have that second sausage sandwich at the last checkpoint.

Anyway, I only wear running tights when it’s cold. And since I live in the tropical paradise of Singapore, my alternative to shorts is the running skirt. Some of the top runners (mostly female :D) wear skirts to run … have a look at Catra Corbett  and Jamie Donaldson (both amazing ultra-runners) … and once you think about it, running in skirts does make sense. No chafing, no camel-toe, a flattering silhouette, great ventilation, no sweaty shorts sticking to your legs post-race (also contributes to the camel-toe problem), and no VPL (visible panty line). They’d be a great solution to the post-run clothing dilemma too .. you can go take a bus, MRT, sit in Starbucks for a double skinny macchiato and muffin …   

Catra Corbett in action (Picture: Dirt Diva)
I saw a couple of ladies at the NTUC run and asked their opinion. One said from her “Once you’ve tried skirts, there’s no going back!”. How you look affects how you feel, and if you know you’re looking great for your run, chances are you’ll be running better too. It’s a win-win situation. 

Okay, so I’ve looked at all the ones available, and there’s enough of a choice out there to make it interesting. You can get them locally from 2XU, Nike and Adidas, but the choice isn’t vast and the colours leave a lot to be desired. Training and racing gear doesn’t have to be boring .. once again the lovely Catra comes to mind … but she is at one extreme of the spectrum. Looking online, there are a few more options. Skirt Sports (by pro-triathlete Nicole DeBoom), Athleta (a part of the GAP group), Moeben, and Running Skirts

I’ve now ordered a couple of pairs from Running Skirts to try out (yes, one of them is cheetah print!), they should be arriving early next week! … I love receiving stuff in the post, there’s something about having a parcel or chunky package to open .. so exciting even if you already know what it is! I chose Running Skirts as they had a great range of colours and styles available, and they ship to Singapore. The Athleta ones looked a little boring and the Skirt Sports ones didn’t really appeal. I’d like to try the Moeben ones as well, but thought I’d wait for my RS delivery first. I’ll post a review once I’ve tested them out … can’t wait!

By the way, STARC ladies (and Bruce .. they do a purple plaid one!), this might be the solution to matching the lovely STARC vest! There’s a UK branch .. check out the colour combinations at Running Skirts UK, or maybe they’d do a custom one in purple and gold!    
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Silver Linings

Okay so this weekend has definitely had it’s ups and downs! Absolutely delighted I managed get to Jason Bay for a day kitesurfing at last .. it’s been far too long since my last session, not to mention the NE monsoon is 3 months late!
It was pretty gusty though, and I thought I’d call it a day sometime in the early afternoon when I literally couldn’t hold on to my kite anymore. Got back on the beach and was trying to land it when I got lofted by a gust. Seriously. I don’t remember anything between the sudden panic at being unintentionally airborne and opening my eyes to find I’m lying on the cabin verandah with lots of concerned faces looking down at me. What the hell happened? Everything between my left shoulder and hip feels like I’ve been run over by a monster truck .. and I’ve got the bruises to prove it. I’ve even got a lump on my forehead despite wearing a helmet .. how am I going to explain this one to Mum? But I’m very grateful for all the help from the kite guys .. thanks, boys!
I’ve spent all day today in bed, dosed up with Nurofen (definitely helps!) and after a thorough check I’m pretty sure I haven’t actually broken anything. Just feels like I have! So yesterday I had about a 5 foot ‘up’ and an equal distance ‘down’ .. not quite the kind of airtime I’d expected when kiting!
Got an interesting email today, though! I was waitlisted for The North Face 100 in Australia .. a slot’s become available .. looks like my travel plans are going ballistic this year!
Signed up for a couple of local races as well since they sound a little more interesting than the usual road runs:
The Salomon Tiong Bahru Urban Trail Run (http://www.wix.com/tbr2011/tiongbarhurun2011)
and the organisers say: ” The inaugural Salomon Tiong Bahru Urban Trail Run 2011 will have participants to race and experience the Marang Trail which is 800 metres (2,600 ft) long and an elevation of 70 metres (230 ft). The trail consists of steps and shaded footpaths through secondary forest. It extends from Marang Road, just behind the HarbourFront MRT Station to the cable car station at the Jewel Box on Mount Faber. The run will bring participants through 6 overhead bridges which include the highest pedestian bridge in Singapore known as the Henderson Waves, standing at 36 metres (118 ft) above Henderson Road at 274-metre (899 ft) long pedestrian bridge providing a scenic view of the city to Telok Blangah Hill Park.
Also the NTUC Healthcare U Run, OMB race (http://www.usports.sg/Events.aspx#reg_fees)
The blurb reads: “Outdo yourself in this year’s U Run with the OMB Challenge– a 10km run followed by a 31 storey climb up NTUC Centre! 10km Competitive Run and 5km Fun Run available too.
I figure I’m not going to get that much hill training in Singapore so I might as well take what I can get. I like competition. It gets too dull if I train for too long and haven’t felt the thrill of the chase for a while. πŸ˜‰
Still, given my current state of semi-broken-ness, I’m hoping I’ll be back in my trainers by Tuesday. I’m hobbling round like a very old person at the moment and making age appropriate noises as well … this is NOT good! At least I’ve got some time to recover before UTMB! πŸ˜‰
On a final note, a small amendment to my fantasy race calendar .. I’m swapping the Transalpine Race for the Cradle Crossing in Tasmania. (http://www.ultimatetrailracing.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=156:the-cradle-crossing&catid=3:newsflash&Itemid=183)
I get an extra week to recover after UTMB and it looks gorgeous! Who’s coming?? πŸ™‚

Update!

Woohoo! I’m in!!! Just seen the change in my status on the UTMB website from ‘waiting’ to ‘to pay’. I love having something to work towards. Now the challenge is getting enough training for the mountains … here goes nothing! πŸ™‚