18-19 June 2011, St Paul de Jarrat, France
I thought that it would be nice to visit the Pyreenes during my stay in France and found some time ago this interesting two day hill race. So, why not give it a try. This was my first two day event and I didn’t really know what to expect. The first day was more or less in my comfort zone with 16.7 km, 1645 m ascent and 646 m descent. (OK, maybe more “less” than “more”.) The finish of the first day was up at a ski station, where we would stay over night. The weather at the start was not very promising with light rain and deep clouds. All the other runners seemed to be very well trained and somehow much better equipped. I felt a bit out of place with my Westies tricot and my inov8 roclites. The race of the first day consisted mainly of a very long ascent followed by a shorter descent to the station. Most of the run was in cold rain, strong winds and almost now visibility. I felt really at home with such conditions and tried to run as well as I could. I was really happy to finish 21st of 42 runners with a time of 2h36. But at the end, my legs were an absolute mess, with cramps setting in. There was just the hope that they would somehow recover over night. The race was extremely well organised. Lots of marshalling and even a water station. We had a beautiful dinner all together with as much food as we could eat and quite a lengthy price giving.
Next morning the alarm was set at 6:25am. I felt incredibly tired at this point. My legs were pretty sore and just the stairs down to the breakfast were quite a struggle. Anyway, there was the second day of running coming up with 33.5 km, 2049 m ascent and 3051 m descent. The good news was, that the weather had improved a lot and we had more or less blue sky with the mountains at their best. Right after the start, I could feel that this wouldn’t be a pleasant day of running. My legs were just not trained for such a two day event. They wanted to have their week rest before the next race. So, I took it extremely easy and tried to take a few photos on the way. The only problem with that is that everything takes much longer. Three, four, five hours … The race just didn’t end. Up in the higher parts, there were many rough climbs, followed by technical descents. Further down very warm weather and endless trails through forest with some small climbs build in. The only thing that kept me going was the absolutely stunning scenery. The views were really breathtaking. Again, the marshals were very friendly. In total, only two foreigners were taking part and many of the marshals knew on the second day that I was the one who came from Scotland. In extremely broken French I had some rather random exchanges where somehow Ben Nevis and Whisky seemed to pop up regularly. Finally, I managed to finished it in a bit more than 6 hours. Didn’t come last!!! 8 hours and, I think, 41 minutes in total.
I definitely would to do this race again, but need to train more to be able to enjoy the second day. Can only recommend it, as the scenery is really stunning and the organisation was just brilliant for such a small race.