Seeing as I evidently couldn’t cut it racing it Scotland a change was needed. This nominally involved me jumping on the back of Leyre’s good work in getting a 3-year contract in the Swiss Alps and moving over with an eye on taking on some Swiss and French races.

To give a wee flavour of what the scene is like in Europe here’s a small report from last weekend’s race.

La Chaîne des Aravis is a range of mountains technically classed in the pre-alps of the Haute-Savoie. To the south of Geneva and east of Annecy, they are like the precursor to the Massif du Mont Blanc and are themselves pretty impressive with steep sides and prominent summits.

Anyway, geography filler done, racing stats were as follows:

Aravis Trail

19km

1300m +

A mixture of single-track trail and back roads.

There were 47km and 66km races as well, but given the last month of activities, I thought an easy breaking back into racing was appropriate. The course basically followed some small forest tracks up the side of the valley before popping out on to open pastures giving views of the Aravis basking in the morning 30-degree sun. 800m up, 300m down, 500m up and then 1300m down (more or less). All dry tracks, legs gubbed and a time of just over 2hrs got me 38th of the 253 that ran. For such a placing I received a bottle of Evian and a slice of orange- great!

Leyre, on the other hand, managed a 6th overall woman and for her endeavours was rewarded with a travel toiletries bag- just what everyone wants.

I, of course, was disappointed by such tack. Having become accustomed to Leyre winning various bottles of local wine + cured meat delight, a toilet bag isn’t going to keep the cellar stocked. She’ll just have to try harder next time.

On the plus side, they spelt my name right and even included the Westies name of the result sheet. I thought for a moment that I might have scored us the highest placing international club placing. Alas, it wasn’t to be as Simon Eastlake of team Simon Eastlake seemed to have pipped us to that title by 70 seconds. I guess I’ll just have to try harder next time…