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I am in shock

What can I say? I am in shock. I just checked the results of the Dolomiti Extreme Trail (DXT) of last year. It took the last runners fourteen and a half hours to complete the 55 kilometers and 3.800 meters of altitude. I’m normally among the last finishers. I’ve never raced for 14 hours.

It’s not just a few runners who needed that long. 14 out of 287 finishers needed more than 14 hours. That’s almost 5 percent of those who finished. 74 people, out of 361 starters, didn’t make it to the finish at all. That’s a shock as well. I expected the DXT to be hard, but not this hard.

Maybe I’ve been naive, but when I subscribed I looked at last year’s race. It took me 1,5 hours to run 11 kilometers, with 600 meters of altitude. Well, 5 times 11 is 55 kilometers and 5 times 600 is 3.000 meters of altitude. So 5 times 1,5 hours is 7,5 hours. An hour extra for those 800 meters of extra altitude is 8,5 hours. Of course I will never run the same pace on an ultra as on a 11 kilometer race, but if I run 3 minutes per kilometer slower, that adds roughly another 2,5 hours to my overall time. That’s 11 hours, not 14.

Back of the field

Another fact; only 37 people finished the race within 10 hours. That’s a bit more than 10 percent. 143 people finished within 12 hours. That’s less than 40 percent. It even took the winner, Sebastjan Zarnik (Slovenia), 7 hours and 2 minutes. He and Julia Kessler (Italy), number 2 overall and the first female to finish, were the only ones finishing within seven and a half hours.

I am used to being in the back of the field. In Sussex, my first ultra run, I finished as number 77 out of 93 finishers, with 10 people not finishing. Last Saturday, at the Mighty Marathon, I finished as number 88, out of 105, with 2 runners not finishing. That means in both cases more than 80 percent of the field has already finished by the time I cross the line.

Slow runners

Maybe that’s why I liked the MUT Festival so much, because when I came in, the band was playing, people were sitting around, enjoying a beer and something to eat. In Sussex, when I finished, the organisation was already cleaning up. Same for Ommerland. Everybody was home by the time I crossed the line.

If 80 percent of the field finished before me at the DXT, it means I’ll finish somewhere around place number 229 (the non-finishers not included). Funny thing, last year a Dutch guy ended up in that place. It took him 13 hours and 9 minutes to complete the 55k, so I know what I’m in for.

Altitude training

The longest I’ve been running so far is 7 hours and 34 minutes. That was in Sussex, where we had 1.600 meters of altitude. I ran Sussex to have done at least once a 50 kilometers race, and to do some altitude. Same for the Mighty Marathon of last weekend. Okay, 1.000 meters of altitude isn’t 3.800, but it’s better than nothing. And 43 kilometers isn’t 55, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Luckily I have a month and a half left. That’s 3 weeks of hard training and 3 weeks of tapering. Two weeks from now we’re leaving for Wales. I’ve got a week in Eryri National Park to get myself ready for Italy. For the rest, I can just hope that I can do a challenge like this.

Photo: ENDU pix

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