Two more days to go to the Trail des Fantomes. My race plan? No plan. Unless you call staying ahead of the cut-off times a plan. In that case, I have one.
I can’t call myself a newbie in trail running anymore. I’ve been doing it for 2 years now. Not that I see myself as a seasoned trail runner, but I kind of know what I’m doing. Yet, as an ultra runner I am still a newbie.
3 times 50 is nothing
Okay, I ran 5 races that were longer than a marathon, but only 3 of them were 50 plus kilometers. And of those, 2 of them were below 55 kilometers. So everything beyond 50 kilometers is still new territory.
The Trail des Fantomes with its 68 kilometers absolutely is new territory. It will be my first race above 65 kilometers. My longest race so far was the Dolomiti Extreme Trail of 57,5 kilometers. I have no idea how my body is going to react over such a long distance.
That’s precisely the reason I have no plan for the Trail des Fantomes, other than staying ahead of the cut-off times. As you know, I am a back of the pack runner. I don’t have to stress about being fast and beating great opponents to the finish line. The only thing I have to worry about is not being taken out of the race.
See, you can always not finish. You can get injured, you can get problems with your stomach, you can get dehydrated, you can fall. There are many reasons you’re not able to make the finish line. There is just one reason for a DNF (Did Not Finish) I personally don’t like and that’s being taken out of the race, because I am too slow.
Don’t get me wrong, if you’re running the Barkley Marathons and you’re taken out after loop 3 or 4, because you’re not in time, I totally understand. That race is gruesome. Some other races have crazy fast cut-off times, but in the case of the Trail des Fantomes I should be able to make it on time, shouldn’t I? I mean, I have to run at least 4,86 kilometers an hour, I can do that, can’t I?
Having said that, there is a big but. The cut-off times become easier, throughout the run, as is often the case. Which means I have to run 6 kilometers an hour to make it to refreshment post number 1. I know, that doesn’t sound too crazy either, but I haven’t run this race before, so I don’t know how the climbs are going to be, nor the trail. For sure, not as crazy as in the Dolomites, but still…
Happy or thrilled?
To summarise it; as long as I finish within 14 hours, I am okay. That is, if I get to all the other refreshment posts in time. If I want to be on the safe side, and keep the pace I should have at the first refreshment post, it will take me 11 hours and 20 minutes.
So let’s say with everything between 11 and 14 hours I am happy. With everything faster than 11 hours I am thrilled.