Saturday, 28 August 2010

The race that never was ...

I was well geared up for it after a few days in Chamonix, all the gear shops and of course its stunning mountain scenery. We had a few brilliant days with blue skies and sunshine, I had picked up my race number and was going to start the CCC. I could not wait to see all those fantastic views along the route.
But it was all over after only an hour or so. Even before we set off from our appartment we had received a text from the organizers warning us about bad weather. So I packed another layer and changed my rain trousers to better ones. We were bussed to the start in Italy, Courmayeur and the little town was buzzing with hundreds of runners. The atmosphere was electric and I was getting rather nervous. It was still dry and we were hanging about. At one point I said to Thomas maybe I'll just go back to Chamonix and support you instead as I was feeling so inadequate amongst these super fit people who had trained for months for this event. But he said I should just start running and my nerves would calm down. So we said our good-byes as he wanted to be near the front runners to escape the pole swinging majority and to avoid any early queues. I settled into the middle and everyone gathered 30min before the start. But by then the heavens had opened and it was pouring down. Goretex out already but the majority were soaking wet even before the start. Then the music and the countdown and off we were. I had planned to walk all the inclines but found myself perched into the middle and everyone was running uphill through the little streets. Eventually the road narrowed and everyone had to walk and even wait to pass the narrower parts. Thunder and pouring rain, the streets turned into streams. I was getting into the swing of using my poles when I received my first text from Thomas. Where was I and should he wait? I said no and he texted again that this was not what we came for and he was already completely wet and cold and thought it would in fact be rather risky to continue as this was just the valley and higher up at 2500m there would be snow and no visibility. He would wait for me. When I reached him he suggested we should stop and go back to Courmayeur while it was still easy to get transport back. I was happy to agree as we had always said we wanted to do the CCC to get to know the route and enjoy the stunning scenery. This would not happen today. So we told one of the marhals and waited for the official guy to cut off our timing chips and talk to someone on his walkie talkie to announce the "first quitters"! It felt strange but right at the time and we were given a lift back to the village where we would wait for the bus bringing us back to Chamonix. After 90min and a few coffees we had warmed up and suddenly the sun came out again. We did feel a bit awkward then but were still in good spirits.
As the day went on we were getting excited for the start of the UTMB. We would watch everyone coming through Les Houches. But again the heavens opened this time after the start. We felt sorry for them all and once everyone was through had dinner with Sharon and the Consani-Clan. When we got back we heard the news that the race had been called off and the TDS had not been started at all. We also learned this morning that the CCC was stopped at Vallorcine in the early morning hours due to ongoing terrible weather conditions for all those that had not passed through. I would certainly not have passed by that time so am rather glad that Thomas decided for both of us shortly after the start. We felt terribly sorry for all those that had come here for the UTMB and TDS and had trained hard. They must have been so disappointed. The decision was taken out of their hands by the organizers who had to consider the well being of all these hundreds of runners. We had taken the decision to stop ourselves so did not feel too bad about it - just disappointed that we would not see the route in all its glory.

Will we be back? Certainly to explore the route maybe over a few days. For the race I'm not sure right now. Though when I was walking through Chamonix today and saw those few CCC finishers (500 from 1800 starters) walking about in their nice finisher windstopper gillets I said to Debs I think I would like one of those ...

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

DOTH 2010

The Devil 2010 has passed and I did not run it myself as planned. Instead I was enjoying the supporter's role again. The past 5 weeks have been rather stressful and I really had not ran much at all. I still thought I might just be able to finish it though. Then my achilles tendon played up and I had to withdraw from the start. I have done a few shorter runs since (really short i.e. 5-6K) and it is better.
Moving house just 5 days before an ultra is not the best idea but we had not much choice. We got the keys to our new home on the 1st of July (so arranged that it would not collide with the WHWR!), 14 days of coordinating joiners, workmen, painters etc and we had new windows, a fireplace, new bedroom, (nearly) finished new floor and a couple of new carpets. With all the cleaning and packing we were already exhausted.Then a long planned holiday in Glen Affric with nieces, nephews etc took us away from it all, only to come back and have 2 days left to pack everything for the removal van.
Needless to say not much running for Thomas either, instead some pulled rib cage muscle from moving furniture. 3 days before the race he was unsure if he should in fact run. By then I was looking forward to supporting him and catching up with everyone else running and supporting. It would do us good to get out there and fight with the midges! So off we went and had a fabulous day! Well I did while Thomas was struggling a bit but kept going. He had given me a rough time guide and was falling behind it for a 6:30 time. At the bottom of the staircase he squirted an already opened gel that was supposed to go straight into his mouth into his bumbag. And blamed me for it of course! The joys! When he looked very tired in Lundavra he mumbled something about hoping to keep his position, I looked back and saw No 7 right behind him. You better get a move on then as No 7 is already here - so off he went with 2 more gels. I did not really expect him to arrive in 6:30 but in fact he arrived after 6:22 and still in 6th position! So really well done! We decided to stay for the prizegiving as a few friends had done great and would be receiving prizes. So we spent the time waiting (that's the problem if you are too fast! You have about 3 hours to wait...) and catching up with the pacepushers' adventures (Caroline's trip to Nepal and India and Neal's Navy stories). At last Neal had been out on the trail again (where he belongs!). We saw Sharon and Debbie finish 2nd and 3rd, Marco 4th and Graham Harcus 5th and 1st supervet. Suddenly at the prizegiving Thomas' name was called up and to our surprise he had won the 1st vet prize. George Cairns the only other vet in front of him had received the 3rd overall prize! Great! And for the 1st time he has brought home prize money!! £40 in vouchers for the Sweat Shop. Not bad!

What next? Well the CCC on paper, but I am not sure if this is still realistic. I know I have not done my homework due to a lack of running. I won't be able to sqeeze it in either. I am looking forward to the great scenery and hopefully sunshine though. We have long given up on the idea of running together as we have obviously a completely different pace. I am just a bit scared to run through the night on my own over high mountains that I don't even know. So at the moment I am thinking of starting the CCC, aiming to keep going throughout daylight, taking it easy and enjoying it without getting timed out too early. And then wait and see. Maybe it is possible, maybe it is not. But if it is not then I will have hopefully enjoyed a great day out and soaked in the atmosphere. By the way No 7 (Richard Galbraith) is also running the CCC.
The house move has come in the way, but when we booked all these trips and races last year we did not even think about moving. When the house came up though we could not let it pass by. And with the big one done and dusted in June, and the move last week everything else took 2nd place. So bring on Chamonix. I can't wait to see it all for myself even if I have a DNS or a DNF.