I just thought I’d put together a brief prelude to this year’s Gore-tex Transalpine run. This year I will be racing as part of Team EnduranceLife. my team partner for this year will be Chris Jenkins. We hope to put together a blog for each day and upload when Internet connections permit!
I’m pretty excited to be racing and have been looking forward to the race more or less since I entered. My experiences from last years race were ones to remember, and at the time, the greatest physical challenge I had taken on.
Although I am sure my recent the trials in the Arctic will provide me with a healthy dose of perspective in terms of the suffering I might endure this time around, I am under no illusions whatsoever as to the difficulties this year’s race will present. As multi-day race, its not just about the moment, where you can hide behind pacing mistakes dig deep and just hope you have enough to get through that day. Personal admin, nutrition and recovery strategies are put under the microscope, and thoroughly tested. I hope to be able to lend just a little of my experience in this regard to Chris as he taking on his first multi-day experience, I know I certainly appreciated it when I took on mine.
The profile of this years race doesn’t disappoint with the intro, and supposed ‘easy’ day of 27km and 1800m asc., 1500m desc. For those less familiar, I list the descent, since this is arguably the most physically demanding aspect of trail running. When Alpine gradients come into play, it doesn’t take much to shred the legs and leave you hobbling for days to come. To put these meaningless figures into perspective, max ascent in a CTS marathon is about 1600m, and the infamous Norseman marathon comes in at 1850m.
Day two looks to be the real tester – 53km, 2400 asc and 2900m! descent. They are calling this one of the hardest stages they have set in the race’s history. Day three offers no respite 43km, 2,600m climbing and 25km of the stage is above 2,000m. This years western route also offers up the Berg Sprint – Stage 5 being a 6km ‘sprint’ straight up 936m of mountain, I hope you can see why I gave it some “ “.
You get the idea. It all adds up, with this years race totalling 273km and 15,436 meters ascent, 14,606 meters descent. An achievement at the end of it, but best to take it less than one stage at a time.
My preparation has been much better than last year, which I only just scraped through in one piece with minimal training, owing to an injury I picked up earlier in the season. I take solace in the fact that this year I have to run 40km less over the same 8 day period, and although more climbing is involved, I am certain that my dedicated strength and conditioning work will help hold me together. My approach has been to run as consistently as possible and not worry overly about the distance I am covering. With no real access to the alpine terrain, it makes it an event that is difficult to effectively train for.
Despite my best intentions, and good levels of confidence surrounding my running coming into the race, picking up a complaint on my right knee (itb related) at the NDW50 from which I reluctantly withdrew after 30 or so miles, has brought the challenge ahead sharply into focus. Fortunately not a chronic injury, it cleared up quickly and hasn’t troubled me since. It did however seem to appear as my glutes tighten up after prolonged runs. Such is the scale and nature of the race, this is something I am not sure is entirely manageable, and once it goes is something that might certainly compromise completion.
After a great massage from Chris at Bodylab last night, and some handy hints and tips as to how I might use kineso-tape to offer some relief, I am feeling more confident, but we will see. From now, I will put the finish line out of mind, and focus on performance related goals, the things I can control. I’ll let the rest take care of itself. I’ll try to remember to look up every now and then and take in the amazing views. I can only but hope I once again hold out long enough to enjoy the awesomeness of the event in its entirety!