Tag: trailrunning

Race Recap: Trail Des Fantômes

Yet another trail run in the pocket!
Last week I went running Trail Des Fantômes with my brother.
We agreed on running this trail and adding some well deserved time off to it.

This meant we arrived at La Roche-En-Ardenne on Saturday, setup the tents with the family, had a first rough night (party at the camping) and woke up looking forward to the race.

The day set out to be better than expected, so I decided to bring along my camelbak, but just to be sure wear a T-shirt rather than a tank top.

At the start my brother was surprised by a local news station with an interview, I just smiled from a distance. After picking up our bibs we browsed the runners-market and waited for the start.

Interview Brother
Interviewed Brother

When the gun went off we tried to get in front of the big pack as we knew the race started with a rather steep climb. These are always easier if you can keep your own pace.

Height profile 31k

The first climb was steep, I instantly felt my calves blowing up, NOT a good sign. First trail I started walking after less than 3km, but looking around me I wasn’t the only one, which was comforting in a way.
I saw my brother swiftly running up the mountain, he sure had a golden start of his first trail!

Starting in the big pack
Starting in the big pack

Up until the first supply point I kept on struggling. I seemed to be too hot and felt rather weak, not a fun feeling only 8 out of 31km into the race.
I decided to eat quite a lot of sugar and salt in the hope it would relift my spirits.
I told my brother he shouldn’t wait for me if I kept struggling like this, but he decided to stick with me.

It actually got somewhat better, although I still felt hot. The tough thing however was that the trailrun did not bring a lot of time to recuperate.
The climbs were steep, but some of the descents were maybe even steeper. Some parts it was sliding down, hoping you could find a tree to grab so you wouldn’t get too much speed.

Despite this fact, it was B-E-A-UTIFUL!
Great nature, great views, great single trails. In total 2 river crossings, running across the rough rocks, climbing up with the help of a chain, stepping over little creeks and seeing a lot of the river ‘Ourthe’ next to you. I enjoyed a lot, a lot!

What a view!

After about 20kms my quads were starting to protest, but that was nothing compared to my brother. He got his first cramp in his calves, which made me pull on his toes so it would go away.
This made it go a lot better for about 5kms before cramping up altogether. Quads, calves, hamstrings, everything seemed to cramp.
The guess wasn’t enough water, but that didn’t help us now.
Luckily he isn’t one to let his head down at such a point and decided to grit his teeth so his first trail would not turn into a first DNF.

The last 5km was at a slower pace, but it got us talking and enjoying the scenery some more. After the last brutal (see the height profile) last climb (+150m in 1k) it was finally some track that made it possible to recuperate.
One last hard descent got us to the last river crossing and we could already hear the commentator at the finish line!

Fun touch, about 150m before the finish we went over a registration point, so the commentator could call everyone by name at the finish.
We heard that we finished 91 & 92 (from 413 people) and frankly … we were pleased with ourselves.

What I learned:
– Don’t pack too heavy when you know there are will be lot of heavy climbs.
– Don’t pack too heavy if there are 3 supply points over 31km.
– Dipping your cap in the river is nice way to cool yourselves.
– If you doubt about clothing before starting a race, take the choice with the least fabric.
– Trail Des Fantômes is a very technical trail, but for now the most beautiful I have run so far.


Race Recap: 56k Bear Trail (Voeren)

As I’m always up for a new challenge, I decided it was time for an ultra trail run after my 50k road race.

Browsing around my eye fell on ‘The Bear Trail’.
A trailrun which said to be +90% off road with a distance of 56km (~34.7 miles) and 1200m of elevation (~3937 feet).
I finished my 50k race at the end of June and this was up at the end of October, which meant I had a small 4 months to get ready.

My main preparation existed of running on the beach and trying to find some hilly surfaces around my house (which I didn’t…)

Although I didn’t feel fully prepared, I did wake up excited at race day.
Yet again the race was at a +2h drive from home, which I drove solo.
I almost found a partner for the race, but because of an injury in the end I was alone.

It was typical Belgian October weather, slight drizzle and not too warm. Excellent ultra run weather if you ask me, only problem was that the week before it had rained plenty.
The speech before the start was very straightforward: “Do not count on staying clean, after 1mile you will be muddy head to toe”.
They didn’t lie…
When the gun went off I started out at a decent pace, especially since the first .5 mile was around a soccer field and on asphalt, after that we dove straight into the forest and went downhill.
All fun and games until we arrived at the lowest point. Giant puddles of water and mud were waiting for us.

A nice single trail

At first I tried to avoid them, but I gave this up fast. It just wasn’t possible…
The climbs were heavy and instead of being rewarded by a nice downhill speed run, it was sometimes double as heavy going down, because before you knew it, you slided down instead of running.

I think I ended up on my butt about three times during the entire course.
But I had fun. I was warm enough and the sights were magnificent!

Nice sight eh

Running alone for almost 6h can be mentally challenging and I had my share of “why am I doing this again”-thoughts, yet running alone has the advantage you can do it all at your own pace.

After about 60% of the race everyone started walking up the hills and I still managed a slow jog most of the time. Having someone with me at this point would have slowed me down and it’s the long uphills that are mentally toughest for me.

I finished in just under 6h (5:51:43), which is more than nice for an ultratrail debut if you ask me. This meant for a 26th place out of 94.
Bear Trail Voeren – October 27, 2014 – 56k – 05:51:41 – StravaEndomondo – 26/94 (PDF link)
So happy yet again! 😀

Compilation of my run 🙂

Thank you for reading my report! 🙂

New Race: Trail Des Fantomes – 31km

Filling up my 2015 race calendar bit by bit, I found this race for August: Trail Des Fantomes

There was a choice between several distances: 13km (~8miles) – 20km(~12.5miles) – 31km(~19miles) – 53km(~33miles) – 75km(~46.5miles)

Although one of my 2015 goals is running 2 ultra’s from which there needs to be at least one trail run I went for the middle distance of 31km.
The reason is I’ll run it together with my brother. We will go camping somewhere nearby a couple of days before and run the trail on August 16

He is newer to running than me and is still upping his mileage. He’s training for a half marathon now (which I might pace) and this is 10km extra with a whole different profile.

Ascension & descents during the run

We will ascend roughly 1294m (~4250 ft) during the run, which is entirely new to him, but he thinks it’ll be fun (I know so ;-)) so going at it together will be a day well spent.

It’s still far away, so there will be probably races coming in between, but it sure is one I’m very much looking forward to.

Do you set out your race schedule for the whole year at once or do you add to it during the year?


Goals For 2015

I gave it a lot of thought and decided on my running goals for 2015.
The major doubt was if I could spent as much or more time in 2015 on running, but after putting the schedules together, J. and I decided it was an option, with a peak somewhere near summer as one of the major possibilities.

So here it is, my goals for 2015:
2 ultra distances
And in these 2 I plan to take on one at least one trail, which means about 90% off-road.
This is nothing extra from 2014 per se, but more to follow 🙂

+2500km of running
2500km ~= 1553miles.
2014 I’ll strand on 2274km (~1413 miles) give or take.
I planned for 2014km in 2014, and I obviously went way over.
My goal means an average of 210km (~130mi) per month, so this is no small goal.
If I run like this year and make sure I don’t have “down” months like Jan or Feb, it’s definitely possible!

Break distance record (currently ~57km)
Running further in one race or another would sure add to a nice year.

Break duration record (currently 5:51)
This goes for the duration as well.
I’m strongly doubting to run a 6hour run in 2015, if I should do this, I’ll definitely break both.

I have some nice-to-haves as well. It would be great to get these as well, but they are not really complementary to the above goals, so it would be logical if I wouldn’t get them.

  • PB on the 5k
  • PB on the 10k
  • Marathon under 3:20
  • Run a nice trail just to enjoy the scenery (chance is, I’ll already get this at the end of January)

Be sure to link me up to your goals for 2015, I’d love to read about them!


Slowly Saying Goodbye To 2014

December 20 2014
Only 11 days and we can start cursing again when we write down the date (oh right 2015 *grmbl*)

2014 wasn’t too shabby. Not running wise nor personal.

Quick personal recap: I became a dad for the first time! She’s already eight months now and boy does it go fast!

Running wise:

  • Tracked 2274km to date (~1413 miles)
    I guess if all goes well I could add another 50 or so in those 11 days but we’ll see
  • Bought 2 pair of new shoes
    • Pearl Izumi: a brand I had never heard of and will continue buying
    • Scott: a trail shoe that fits like a glove
  • Ran 6 races which means an average of one every 2 months, way better than expected
    • A very low-key trail of 25k that wasn’t a real race (no bibs, no timing) but helped me convince I was ready for longer distances & trails
    • A 5k race where I PB’d below 19 minutes
    • A 50k which went waay better than I had hoped for – 7 min below my aimed time and relatively fresh (see my PB page for exact timings btw)
    • A marathon in one of the nicest settings there are ‘In Flanders Fields’ at Ypres, great way to start the remembrance of WW1. Did this one as a pacer and ended just above 4h. Was very happy with the recovery afterwards etc
    • A 56k trail with 1200m of ascension (~3937feet).
      This was my ultimate goal of 2014.
      I suffered, but in a good way and finished just below 6h.
      Distance record, duration record, busted quads record 😀
    • 10k run where I broke my PB. Sadly not below 39 minutes, but since short distances weren’t my focus this year, I’m happy that I PB’d!

2015 goals post coming later, just give me some time to look back at this post with a content smile 🙂

I’d love to read about your year, be sure to link me up in the comments!

Trail Du Mont Banner

Next Race: Trail Du Mont

10k race behind me, 2015 in front of me.
I’m still contemplating what my goals will be for 2015 (post coming!), but in the meantime I have put a first race down in my schedule: Trail Du Mont

It will be a race off course, but ‘courir pour le plaisir’ (Run For Fun) will be my primary goal there.

It’s a 30k (~19mi) race with 780m ascension to sharpen my trail running skills.

I’m part of an “online running club” who call themselves “Run To The Hills” and about 75% I haven’t even met in real life, but a lot will be attending here, so that’s a very big reason to go running more than an hour drive away from home.

Good thing is that I have something to think about and keep me motivated through the shortest days of the year. Really should like to do at least one run that covers (at least) this distance before going to Mont-St-Aubert @ January 25

Do you have a race planned already in January? Is it a “fun run” or serious business?