Saturday, 23 March 2013

80k EcoTrail de Paris 2013

OK, let's get this out of the way right at the start:  I didn't finish.  In some ways, it wasn't a surprise but it wasn't for any of the reasons that I had expected.

I first did this event last year and the two races couldn't have been more different.  Last year, it was dry and unseasonably hot at 24°C (75°F).  The main dangers were dehydration and sunburn.  This year it was much colder.  10°C (50°F) at the start and 3°C (37°F) in the driving rain for those hardy souls who finished around midnight.
At the start.
At the start.
Actually, the temperature at the start was ideal.  Too cold to be standing around for two hours waiting to set off, certainly, and I'm sure I made a note to myself to arrive later this time.  Ah, well, maybe next year.  Anyway, I spent the waiting time chatting with a few of the other competitors and generally huddling out of the wind.
Running past the snow...
Once we set off, I warmed up pretty quickly but deliberately kept my pace slow as I had concerns about my ability to go the distance.  It was nice to be finally running past the snow rather than through it.  My relief was short-lived, though, as it became evident that being at the back of the pack meant that 2000 other pairs of feet had churned up the trails into a slick and muddy mess.  Some places were almost impassable whilst others became very difficult ascents or descents.
In surprisingly good shape.
In the end, that was what did for me.  I was feeling pretty good at around 38k.  Much better, in fact, than I had expected.  And then on a very steep and muddy descent, I slipped and twisted my knee.  I walked on for a another 4k or so but it became clear that it wasn't going to get any better. 

I called the Race Director and told him that I was dropping out.  One advantage of this race is that you aren't ever very far from civilisation so I was able to get a bus to the finish where I was collected my stuff, had a shower and headed off home.

I hope I'll be able to have another go at this next year as I was really rather enjoying it until the fall.  The route is well marked and the whole affair is organised by people that are obviously passionate about putting on a good race.