Written by Katrin Silva - http://runkat.com
Cast of characters
Our Fearless Heroine:
Katrin, ultra runner in pursuit of another belt buckle at the end of the rainbow, otherwise known as the 100-mile Leadville trail run.
Supporting characters and sidekicks:
Katrin’s Brain, convinced 100 percent that she is tougher than she thinks she is and can do more than she thinks she can
David, Katrin’s loyal crew/cheerleader/photographer/husband combo
Rachael, Katrin’s loyal ultra friend who has agreed to help crew
Adrian “Speed Demon” Stanciu, Katrin’s elite runner friend, who has agreed to pace her for 20 miles . . . and then for 37 . . .and in the end for 50.
Villains, adversaries, and monsters to be slain:
Hope Pass – looming and evil, a powerful enemy
The Neverending Trail to Winfield, which has grown two miles since last year.
The Powerline Climb – a shapeshifting hydra with five false heads
Katrin’s Finicky Stomach, a whining traitor who crosses into enemy territory after mile 53
Katrin’s Various Other Body Parts – legs, eyes, knees- who follow the traitorous stomach one by one onto the opposing side
Start to Twin Lakes
Soundtrack: A gunshot, then Don’t Stop Me Now (Queen)
Legs: We’re ready! We’re rested! We’re cold! We’re raring to go!
Brain: No, patience. We’ve got plenty of time . . .
Legs: We can run this uphill!
Brain: Really? Ok, if you’re sure . . . it feels good to pass a few more runners, hehe!
Stomach: . . . (content, happy gurgling sounds).
Eyes: Look! Turquoise Lake, how pretty! . . . Oooooh, Mt Elbert. Hey, our buddy Eric is up ahead, let’s go catch up! Hey, there’s an aid station!
David: You’re looking great!
Rachael: What do you need?
Brain: Should we stop and eat something? Nah, no time . . . Hey wait, why is the two-liter bladder still half full after 40 miles? Did I forget something?
Twin Lakes to Winfield
Soundtrack: You Can Get it if You Really Want it (Jimmy Cliff)
Hope Pass: I will make you suffer. Muahaha.
Brain: You don’t scare me. Up we go!
Legs: Ok. We still feel pretty strong.
Brain: I am superwoman. I can pass people while climbing Hope. Go Me!
Llama: Look at these pathetic things coming up the pass. Two legs. Inadequate. Phew. (spits in runners’ direction)
Friendly volunteer: Can we refill your pack?
Katrin: Yes, please . . . Oh crap, this is the first time since this morning. I ran 45 miles on less than two liters of water??? Why?
Lungs: Gasp . . . gasp . . . Still no oxygen up here, same as last year.
Legs: It’s still steep, same as last year.
Brain: Come one! Up and over! There you go!
The Neverending Trail to Winfield: Muahahahah . . . I am a mile longer this year.
Muahahah . . .one mile each way, makes two miles total. Not flat miles, no . . . Lots of uphill, lots of downhill. Runners can see the aid staton, and then I lead them away from t the aid station again. Complete despair is my goal, muahahahah! Muahahaha!
Katrin: Where is that (#%($^$ aid station?????
Never-ending Trail: I’m going to trip you, so you limp into Winfield with a bloody knee. Muahaha!
Katrin: Ouch! (^$(^^%#%
(an eternity later)
David: You look great!
Rachael: Do you want anything to eat?
Katrin: No time . . . one bite of sandwich will do. And one potato chip.
Winfield to Hopeless
Soundtrack: Everybody Hurts (R.E.M)
Adrian, fidgeting like a racehorse at the start of the Kentucky Derby: Let’s run!
Katrin, who doesn’t want to look pathetic in front of her fast friend: Sure!
Hope Pass: I am steep . . . I am endless . . . I don’t have switchbacks. Woe to all who climb my backside! Your hamstrings will hurt! They will cramp!Legs: We can’t go up there! Not again. Not without fuel!
Stomach: You should have thought of that 20 miles ago, when I still wanted to play this game. I quit. Bye!
Brain: You sorry bunch of losers! Come on, left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. . . we’re practically standing still! People are passing us! No!
Katrin, bonking: Ugh, wait. I don’t feel so good.
Adrian: (muttering to himself) I thought she was faster than a snail . . . (aloud): You’re doing fine.
Hope Pass: You shall perish! You shall suffer! You shall regret ever signing up for this race!
(an eternity later)
Katrin: Yay! Downhill! Oxygen! I am alive!!!
Llama #2: I am cuter than you, human.
Hopeless to base of Powerline climb (inbound)
Soundtrack: Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater
Brain: let’s catch a few people on this rocky downhill . . . we’re behind schedule. We want that big buckle!
Legs: ok, ok. We’re running on fumes here!
Stomach: I told you I quit. No, I don’t want another Stinger Waffle. No, not even a Ginger chew.
David: Let me take a few pictures! You’re doing great!
Rachael: Ok, headlamp, jacket, dry shoes . . . you should eat something.
Katrin: No time. I still have a shot at the big buckle if I hurry.
(Darkness falls. Our heroine and her valiant pacer/pack mule Adrian turn on their lights.)
Legs: Can we please, please, please have some fuel?
Stomach: I told you earlier, I quit. That means no.
Eyes: we’ve been wearing those contacts for, like, a long time now, and it’s dusty. And we’re really dry. Everything looks hazy.
Legs: Are we there yet?
Brain: Come on, stop whining!
Adrian: Wow, we just ran a ten-minute mile, 75 miles in. Maybe you can still get that buckle! . . .There’s Outward Bound. David! Rachael! Where are you?
(no answer). Ok, it looks like I’ll be pacing until May Queen. Eat something!
Katrin: Let’s go!
Powerline climb to finish
It’s dark. It’s cold. It keeps getting colder. All music has stopped, except for drumbeats in a slow, ominous rhythm
Powerlines: I am standing between you and the finish . . . (sounding like Gandalf talking to the Balrog): YOU SHALL NOT PASS!
Legs: No! Not another climb! We’re done! We haven’t seen any glycogen down here in, like, forever. We quit!
Stomach: Great! You guys can just hang out with me and no nothing.
Legs: Good idea. Excellent. Quitting time, yay!
Powerlines: I SHALL TRIP YOU! YOU SHALL SUFFER!
Katrin: Ouch! Not again! *$$*^@#<br< a="">>Eyes: We are seeing ghosts. Huh??
Brain: It’s ok, that’s the Space Station. Legs, it’s downhill to May Queen from here . . . Come on!
Legs: We’ll try . . . Nope, we won’t even try anymore. We’re done.
Stomach: Yeah, let’s party! Look, I am doing the limbo twist . . .
Eyes: Everything looks out of focus, but isn’t that May Queen?
Brain: Yes! And we’ve got three hours to still get that buckle. It’s not impossible. Come on! Move! Move, I said!
Legs: But it feels much better to not move!
Adrian: David! Rachael! Where are you? . . . It looks like I’ll be pacing you to the finish.
Katrin: I feel awful. I don’t care about the big buckle anymore . . .I just want this to be over.
Adrian: The faster you move, the sooner you finish.
Eyes: We quit! We’re joining the rebel side! Legs, stomach, here we come . . . yippee!
Brain: Hey! Get back here!
Legs: Are we there yet?
Brain: You ingrates! You lazy freeloaders! Keep moving! Come on. Left, right, left right . . .
Adrian: The boulevard goes this way . . . where on earth are you going?
Katrin: I can’t see a damn thing . . . everything looks blurry!
Adrian: You’re going off the road again . . .get out of that gutter.
Katrin: Where? Huh? What gutter?
Adrian: We’re almost there.
Katrin: Can I just lie down and die of hypothermia?
Katrin: Can you just shoot me?
Soundtrack: We Are the Champions (Queen)
(The clock says 25:51. Thunderous applause from the six or so bleary-eyed spectators lining 6th street waiting to console other runners who have missed the big buckle cutoff by less than an hour)
Katrin: I sort of see it . . . let’s see if I can run across it.
(staggers across the finish line, veering off the red carpet)
David: You look . . . . finished.
Rachael: You look terrible.
Katrin (suddenly exuberant, though still half blind and barely upright): I finished! I finished!
My vision returned a few hours, two naps, and about a gallon of water later. Cloudy eyes apparently are a common condition among 100-mile racers. It’s harmless and temporary, but it did freak me out a little.
It’s a good time to be alive and running, especially in Leadville.
Spotted in the parking lot before the briefing. My next license plate!
Written by Eric Grant - http://www.lhtrailrunning.com
The Ultra Tour of Léman holds a special place in my heart. First of all, there’s the fact of going around a lake that I’ve called home for 37 years - but the main reason is the atmosphere of this race that I love, “far from the madding crowd”. Every year, a great group of enthusiastic but low-key runners gather to experience this unique race, led by the organizer, Jean-Luc Ridet. I contacted him in 2013 when I saw one weekend a bunch of runners with backpacks and bibs running along the lake in Geneva. I volunteered the following year to help out, and I knew then that I had to do this race. As a result, 2015 became a test year with the 100km of Millau and in 2016 I participated in the UTL for the first time – stopping in Morges after 130km and 19h of running with the feeling that my legs were giving out. I figured it was in large part due to having done only six weeks before another race that I had been focusing on for a few years, the Swiss Irontrail - 201km with 11,000m of elevation (though I timed out at 140km after 42 hours) - and I had focused my training on the mountain running, figuring that transferring to road would not be a big deal! Ah, well, lesson learned...
We head off with cool weather at 7am to the sound of cow bells. Right away René charges ahead (he’s vice-world champion for longest distance on a treadmill in 24h - 247km! – didn’t even know that this kind of stuff existed!). He came to win, even break the record... He’s followed by a small group moving too fast for me - then there’s me, at about 9km/h as planned. And then behind me, a slightly slower group... So, only 10 minutes into the race, I find myself alone. And I’ll stay that way- almost without seeing anyone in front or behind - for nearly 15 hours of racing... Ah, for someone who doesn’t like crowds, I got what I came for! A new journey of inner discovery awaits…
Lugrin – Anthy-sur-Léman – CP2 (44km)
Anthy-sur-Léman – Chens-sur-Léman – CP3 (64km)
I spend a lot of time thinking about the race, about what I will write on my blog, and time just flies, it's great – I even have to force myself to slow down. Then, as can always happen in an ultra (and usually does several times), the tables flip and I find myself finding the time very looooong. Last year, too, I started to struggle mentally here. There are parts of the road without sidewalk but overall it is beautiful, as you pass through Excenevex, Yvoire, Messery. Yet I’ve got the blues... Which might explain why, when I arrive at the third checkpoint, I blab on and on to the volunteers about the fact that I will see my wife and my daughter soon since I pass within 100m of our house. The CP, which I hit again right on schedule at 3pm, moved one kilometer from Chens because there is a 10km race organized for this afternoon. That's nice.
Chens-sur-Léman – Bellevue – CP4 (87km)
Bellevue – Gland – CP5 (107km)
Gland – St. Prex – CP6 (126km)
St. Prex – Cully – CP7 (153km)
Cully – Villeneuve (175Km)
When I get out of the car, I see Scott staggering in. He collapses into a chair, exhausted – and this is probably the first time I’ve really seen someone absolutely exhausted. He doesn’t want to give up but he realizes that he may actually be putting his health at risk. When I head out, he gives me a big smile of encouragement for the last bit. Whatever he’s feeling, it may be completely understandable disappointment but definitely not self-pity.
The sun’s shining and it’s all downhill into Vevey, amazing. I remove my windbreaker and long sleeves that I wore during the night to put on a new clean t-shirt. I feel like a new man and I start jogging again.
From Vevey I can see the entire distance still to cover – but I can pretty much see Villeneuve! I know I’ll get there and if I push a bit I can make it close to the somewhat loose official cut-off time of 29h10 (which means an average pace of 6km/h for the whole race, taking stops into account). Just like at the GUCR, these last hours are really tough on the legs and feet, and mentally I just want to get it done, I will get it done, but struggling with the amount of time it will take… But I am not bored at all. The boardwalk is filled with strollers, and joggers too whipping by (as I once again try to make my bib visible!).
Then I pass the Chateau de Chillon and there it is, I am in Villeneuve. I pass the train station, I see the service station that marks the left turn towards Tronchenaz. Now I’m running along the river, with the soccer field on my left. And then they see me and I hear the incredible sound of the cowbells - and I get a hug from Jean-Luc, and Scott is there too and we give each other a long hug - I thank him for his support and helping me finish, saying how sorry I am he had to drop - and Dylan’s there too congratulating me ... Actually, almost everyone is there since I'm the second to last person to arrive. Helene will arrive a little less than an hour after me, a real warrior.
So at last the tour of great lake is complete – and I won’t have to return out of revenge but rather to enjoy the magical experience of a unique race.
Written by Katrin Silva - http://runkat.com
I registered for the 2017 Javelina 100 in late September, after two difficult 100-mile finishes earlier in the summer. Bryce and Leadville had gone well until I fell apart around mile 80 and shuffled, walked, or staggered on until crossing the finish line. I began to think that, at 47, old age had finally caught up with me. I worried that my finishing kick in 100s was gone for good.
So, I signed up for the Javelina. It’s an easier course than what I normally choose – no altitude, no mountain passes, not too technical, not too much vert. I wanted my mojo back. I also wanted a 100-mile PR. I wanted to run faster than my 23:16 in Leadville four years earlier. Never mind that the Javelina takes place in the desert heat of central Arizona, never mind that I had not done any heat training since August – I wanted redemption.
I also wanted the race to double as a romantic getaway. My husband David and I celebrated our 25th anniversary in mid-October. When I suggested a weekend road trip to the Javelina 100, David immediately agreed (one of the many reasons why i love him). We drove from New Mexico to Fountain Hills on Friday. While going through Santa Fe, an hour away from home, I shift into panic mode: have I packed my good Hokas? We pull over. I dig through my bag. I have not.
Time to problem-solve. Turning back would turn an eight-hour drive into ten hours, and make us miss packet pickup. Lucky for me, we are not too far from the Running Hub, our Santa Fe running store, where I purchase a pair of Speedgoats and put them on my feet for the rest of the day so I don’t run 100 miles in brand-new shoes. Nothing new on race day, right?
The Javelina is a five-loop course. I’ve always preferred out and backs or point to points, for the simple reason that I don’t want to pass the finish line until the finish. Passing it four times, at mile 20, 40, 60, and 80 seems like a recipe for a DNF. I imagined the temptation to drop would be overwhelming – an irresistible siren call, a surefire way to break my willpower. So, in spite of hearing great things about the Javelina for years, I had never wanted to take this chance until now.
The race starts at 6 am, with a counterclockwise loop that is slightly longer than the other four. We gallop off into the desert, riding high on a wave of pure energy. It’s still cool and crisp. After twenty minutes or so, I turn off my light. The sun inches up on the horizon, splashing the desert with purple, red, and shades of orange. I get stuck in the back of the pack, then break free on a section of double track and speed up – probably too much, but I can’t help it. A familiar shirtless silhouette in front of me tuns out to be Adrian – my pacer and friend without whom I would not have finished Leadville two months ago. He has a plane to catch the next morning, meaning that he has to finish the Javelina in under 21 hours. I wish him luck as he scampers ahead, on his way to a spectacular 18-hour finish..
The Javelina 100 is a social race because the loops are washing-machine style, meaning we reverse direction each time we finish one. Everyone sees everyone else several times – lots of opportunities to catch up with old friends, and meet new ones. I say hello to Ian Maddieson, 75 years young, and to a 14-year old kid whose friends think he’s gone crazy. I meet runners from Ireland, Mexico, Canada, and all over the US.
I also meet strange creatures not normally found in ultra races because lots of people run the Javelina in costumes.
I wear a colorful top, skirt, and cowgirl hat, plus some pink hair, and some body glitter. Others dressed up in much more elaborate fashion: clowns, skeletons, bandits, Jackie O, Fred Flintstone, several Wonder Women, a guy in a thong, men (and a few women) in tutus.
By the time I start my second loop, clockwise, the desert is warming up. By the time I start my third, it’s hot. Really hot. I’m still running strong, but have slowed down a little, even take a few short walk breaks on the uphills. At every aid station, I stuff handfuls of ice into my hat and down my bra. All aid stations at Javelina are top notch – a cross between tapa restaurant, night club with full bar, support group meeting, field hospital, and motivational event. Coyote Crossing offers Bloody Marys and forms of pain relief. Jackass Junction transforms the desert into a dance club, complete with strobe lights and a disco ball. I leave every aid station nourished, cool, and cheerful. The furthest distance between aid stations is 6.5 miles, so it’s impossible to stay grumpy for long at Javelina.
The afternoon sun feels merciless. I pass a couple of runners who crouch doubled over trail side, retching. I offer ginger and encouraging words, but can’t do much else. My own stomach is on the edge of rebelling after a steady all-day diet of Stinger Waffles and ginger ale. I try to reason with it. I implore it to behave better than it did in Leadville.It grumbles, the settles down again, still threatening with mutiny.
The loop course does require more mind games than usual. While I finish loop three, I think “only a 50k to go.” Wait, a 50k? It seems like a lot. I also realize that, had I signed up for the 100k instead of the 100-miler, I would be done already. Ruminating along such unhelpful lines, I reach the Jeadquarters for the third time right before sunset.
I dig out my good headlamp and change socks. David reminds me to eat, so I choke down some pretzels and a protein bar. Time to refocus the mind to something more positive than the remaining 50k, like cooler evening temperatures. Like the undeniable fact that I’m more than halfway done. Loop four will my last counterclockwise round. Each loop features a gentle, rolling climb to Jackass Junction, then a gentle, rolling descent back to the Jeadquarters. The climb is rockier and steeper in the clockwise direction, but the descent is smoother and more inviting, basically an easy cruise to the finish. Now, I run back up the cruising section, finding I have plenty of energy left. The uphill is so gradual that walk breaks don’t cross my mind. I have taken a couple of very short walk breaks in the heat of the afternoon, on some of the steeper clockwise climbs, but in the cooler air, I feel able to run at a decent pace.
My stomach still threatens to quit, but doesn’t actually turn inside out. I talk to it in a stern voice: “Just a few more hours, please, you finicky organ. Quit sounding like a whiny child. Don’t sabotage my race, like you did at Leadville.” And so on. My stomach has a capricious disposition. It’s easily offended and not always a good team player with my other body parts. Halfway into loop four, I switch to an all-ginger diet for the rest of the race, hoping for a puke-free 100 miles. John passes me at the Coyote aid station, looking string and steady. I try to keep up, but think better of it – I still have 24 miles to go, and I’ve learned the hard way to run my own race until mile 95 or so.
Back at the Jeadquarters after loop four, my fuzzy brain calculates that I will have no trouble finishing in sub-22, which was my A-goal. David, my ultrahusband, is dressed to pace in his shorts and knee brace, and we head out into the night. The sound of crickets fills the night. A half moon shines above us. This is happiness, pure and simple – running through a beautiful desert, surrounded by people I care about.
Eight miles in, David’s injured knee begins to bother him. He lags behind me more and more. I wait for him, but he urges me to go on alone. We reach Jackass Junction, where we snap a couple of pictures in the desert disco, then we kiss and I head out for the last ten miles to the finish. I can still run. My legs are tired, but there’s only a single digit number of miles left to go. My stomach is still on the edge of mutiny, but still holding its ginger. The night is cool but not cold, and I feel warm enough in my skirt and thin long-sleeve. I run, at a slow but steady pace, feeling peaceful in the quiet, dark desert. No need for music, no need for more motivation. I am here, the time is now, and nothing else matters. Every so often, other runners come toward me. We mutter words of encouragement, pointing our lights politely sideways and down. It’s a beautiful night, and I know I won’t see that second sunrise. My Garmin has died many miles ago, but I know that a sub -22 is possible.
The last aid station. A last handful of ginger, fresh batteries in my dimming lights, and I’m ready for the home stretch. Less than four miles to go. I pass a couple of runners who ask me whether I’ on my last lap. They cheer me on when I say yes. I cross the now familiar washes one last time. I take a right turn off the Pemberton trail one last time. I’m hurting, but I know I’m getting close.
The tent city comes into view one last time. One last pass under the arch, one last triumphant lap around the headquarters loop lined by pop-up tents filled with cheering crew members. one last little uphill toward the finish line. I see the clock. It says 20:00. I blink. I look again. It says 20:01 by the time I get there. Out of the shadows jumps my dear husband, who has caught a ride from Jackass Junction and arrived at the finish just before me. He snaps a quick picture with his phone. We hug. We feel ecstatic. I never dreamed I could run 100 miles in just over 20 hours. As we sink into camp chairs and pop open a couple of beers, I wonder: could I shave one more minute off my time? I might just have to come back next year and find out.
Javelina is a beautiful race in every sense: the scenery, the organization, the cheerful vibes. Thank you, Jamil Coury and Aravaipa Running, for putting on a top-notch event. Thank you, John and Senovia, for graciously sharing your tent. Thank you, all my old and new friends, for making Javelina a 100 miles to remember. I love you all, and I will be back.
Written by Marcin Krzysztofik - http://wolnybiegacz.pl
V3K (Vegan 3000 Ultra) is a mountain ultramarathon that I heard of for the first time about 2 years ago. Of course I got really keen to run it one day. Before I dive into the report, I can disclose that I finished the race. My result isn’t overly impressive, but I’m satisfied with my performance, considering this was my first such a highly technical race and the first ‘skyrace’ I took part in. My aim had been to finish the race, hopefully in a reasonable time somewhere around the middle of the pack. On top of that I had counted on beautiful views and had been excited to see parts of Snowdonia I’d never seen before.
Skyrunning is a term for a specific kind of running events. These are generally mountain races with a lot of vertical gain proportionally to the race distance. Skyrunning encompasses a few categories: Sky (races up to 50k long), Ultra (races longer than 50k), Vertical (1000 metres of altitude gain) and Extreme (just hardcore 😊). Skyrunning originates from the Dolomites in Italy and over the years has become extremely popular, among others in countries such as USA, UK or Poland.
V3K Ultra is the first race of Skyrunner UK National Series. V3K stands for Vegan 3,000s. Vegan, because the organiser is vegan and all participants of the race have to adhere to a vegan diet throughout the race. 3,000s, because the race route winds through Snowdonia and takes in all 15 Welsh summits over 3,000 feet tall. More on what these summits are can be found on Wikipedia. All of them are located in the beautiful Snowdonia National Park. The race is 54k long, while the sum of all ascents is over 4,000 metres, so considerable altitude gain. To make matters more interesting, there is a little bit of exposure and scrambling involved, so those with fear of heights might give this race a pass.
The day before
Together with my family we left Oxford on Friday morning (23rd June) and in the afternoon arrived at the event base in Tal-y-bont, just outside of Bangor. At 7 PM the race registration started. Before I started queuing to register I had met some friends: Maciek, Andrzej and Mariusz, whom I know from some previous races. Andrzej and Mariusz had ambitious plans to score high and finish under 10 hours. Maciek, similarly to me, pretty much just wanted to finish the race.
Once we collected our race packs we enjoyed some nice vegan carbo-loading to make sure we have enough calories to burn the next day. Then, just past 8 PM the race director welcomed everyone and delivered her race briefing, pointing out where to be especially careful, where not to cut short etc. After the briefing we went to our nearby Bed & Breakfast. I packed my race vest, prepared my clothes and went to sleep to get at least 4-5 hours of rest.
The alarm rang at 3:30 AM (!). I ate some porridge and a banana, drank some tea, got dressed and just before 4 AM sat in a coach that was about to take all the runners to the race start in Nant Gwynant on the other side of the mountains. It took us about 40 minutes to get there. Then we experienced an onslaught of midges. I haven’t been exposed to them for quite a few years so I forgot how annoying they are. They quickly reminded me! I carried the bite signs with me even over a week after the race!
Inspired by Andrzej’s and Mariusz’s plan I thought I’d give it a try too and stay not far behind them. To achieve that I made it to the start line and settled just a couple of metres behind them. At 5 AM 150 or so people set off!
Part 1: Snowdon
The race starts on a gently rising path which turns later into a tiresome climb up to the top of Snowdon. Over 900 metres of altitude gain, so no minor feat.
For the first few minutes I kept up with the front runners, but it didn’t take much time for me to realise that if I continued to maintain this pace I would be gone. Out of my league…
I continued at my own, slower pace, mainly walking uphill and letting others overtake me. After 1.5 hour from start I summitted Snowdon. From there a short and pleasant downhill run followed. Then a short uphill and summit no. 2, Garnedd Ugain was ticked off. Afterwards I enjoyed the most exciting part of the course: the knife-edged arete of Crib Goch, summit no. 3. Unfortunately, the rocks there made me realise that my Salomon XA Pro 3D shoes were inadequate for the terrain as they had no grip on the rocks. As a result of that I had to be extra careful and frustratingly slow; many runners overtook me on this stretch.
Shortly the descent from Crib Goch started. On a scree slope Maciek appeared and quickly passed me and got out of sight: clearly, he was handling descents better than I was. With the scree out of the way I continued descending along a picturesque valley until I finally reached the A4086 road. After 2 km or so along the road I reached the first feed station where I replenished my water supplies, ate something and promptly continued.
Part 2: Glyderau
On the arduous climb to Elidir Fawr, summit no. 4 I caught up with Maciek and since then we stayed together for most of the race. With Elidir Fawr bagged we stayed on high ground, always above 700 metres above sea level. With a mix of walking and running we continued checking off summits 5, 6 and 7: Y Garn, Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach.
After a steep descent from Glyder Fach we scrambled atop Tryfan, the 8th summit. Another slow and rocky descent followed, this time down into the valley and the A5 road. Maciek reached the road a few minutes ahead of me, but I kept him in sight when we run along the A5 for a short while. We soon reached the second feed station where I arrived 3 minutes after him.
At the lavish feed station I ate/drank some soup and drank a cup of invigorating coffee. I ate a few roast potatoes and some sandwich as I was very keen to break the sweet taste of gels and bars. At this stage I felt pretty exhausted and my legs and back were sore, but on the other hand I was glad that ‘just’ one, last part remained.
Part 3: Carneddau
Maciek lingered on at the feed station while I set off, being sure that he will catch up with me later. This part begun, similarly to the two previous parts, with a long climb up to the high ground, concluded with peak no. 9: Pen yr Ole Wen. Similarly to the Glyderau section now followed a bit of a flat, or gradually descending terrain suitable for running.
Having bagged Carnedd Dafydd (summit no. 10) I could enjoy a fair bit of running until I reached Yr Elen (no. 11). At the following ascent Maciek caught up with me and together we bagged peak no. 12: Carnedd Llewelyn. A gradual and runnable descent followed by a short ascent and Foel Grach (no. 13) was ours. Then another runnable descent, short ascent and Carnedd Gwenlian (no. 14) was ticked off. Shortly thereafter, maintaining a nice pace, we bagged the last summit: Foel-fras.
What was left was just a few miles of gentle downhill to the finish. Most of it was either a grassy slope, or a runnable path, so we pushed on as hard as sore legs allowed. We had a chance to finish under 12-hours, so every second mattered. This really kept me going. Admittedly, the fact that we overtook 3 runners on the last descent was also quite motivating.
After the last grassy bit we were left with a final stretch of a minor road. We made it across the finish line 3 minutes or so before our self-imposed target of 12-hours! At this point I really need to thank for Maciek for sticking together with me on the final descent. He was clearly capable of running faster and finishing a few minutes ahead of me, but decided to cross the finish line together as we did most of the day’s running and walking together. We finished at 82nd place out of 149 finishers, the last of whom needed just over 17 hours.
At the finish line my wife awaited with the camera ready to immortalise our finish. Andrzej and Mariusz were also waiting there. They had a brilliant run, finishing together in around 9 hours at a top 20 position. Respect! Even greater congratulations to their friend Jarek, whom I just met there. He finished as the 6th runner in 8 hours and 34 minutes! The winner needed just 7 hours and 25 minutes… incredible!
After the finish and when I settled down I really started to feel how exhausted I was. I was drained, sore and could hardly force the delicious vegan food into me. Luckily, at our B&B accommodation we had a bathtub to our disposal, so I could take a hot and relaxing bath to regenerate a bit. I got so relaxed that I actually felt asleep for 15 minutes or so while there 😊
After my good results in April’s Harpagan (6th place, race report here) and May’s Kierat (37th place, race report here) the reality hit me hard and showed that I’m no good in skyraces. I’d need way more training, especially hill training, to improve. Despite that, I’m really glad that I completed the whole course in reasonable time and without any injuries. Interestingly, on Saturday, a few hours after the race I felt quite good. On Sunday I was sore but it was rather fine. However, on Monday and Tuesday DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) hit me with a brutal force! I could hardly walk, not to mention sit. Suprisingly, not only my legs were painful, but also arms and shoulders. It does actually make sense if you think of it, considering all the scrambling when I heavily relied on my arms or descended on all fours.
I very much recommend V3K as a race worth running. It has a great atmosphere. Unlike many other races it doesn’t seem to be very commercialised and you can sense the organisers’ and runners’ passion of mountain running. Combined with a great setting in beautiful Snowdonia and a demanding, technical race, V3K offers a memorable experience.
All the best,
Written by Avery Frantz - https://averyfunadventure.wordpress.com
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