Saturday, 25 July 2015

Eiger Ultra Trail: E101 2015

This race scared me. Well, I've done some difficult runs, but after failing time after time in local 166km run that should take around the same time, I had my doubts. This race is amazingly beautiful and consists of 101 mountainous km's on some smooth some very technical trails with ~6700m of vertical gain (and back of course).

I trained for this race seriously including long runs on the local downhill bike trail on Manara Cliff, with up to 3000m elevation gain and loss followed by technical trails on Carmel "mountains" (small bumps compared to alps, but that's what I have).

I arrived to the area 5 days ahead of the race with my family and we had time to travel a bit in the area, relax and "feel the ground". The weather was hot even in the mountains this days (up to 30 deg. Celsius) and the forecast for the race day was "sunny", but during instruction one of the points was how to behave during the lightening storm while exposed in the mountains.
Specially built bridge for the finish (last ascent/descent)

The morning of the  race... ok it was 2 am wake up + 2:30 breakfast and then 4:30 start. I have misty memory of watching runners slowly gathering close to starting line, none really in a hurry, checking equipment last time with the tune of the official "are you ready to win the race" song. I was still scared but keen to go. We heard the count down, followed by the gun and then went ahead, some faster trying to reach the single trail with less crowds, others (like me) much, much slower.
What does the 5 min wait before the single matter if the run lasts more than 20 hours... not that much.

 First part was steady climb with some rolling sections and not too technical, so I stayed comfortable and gone through the Grosse Sheidegg with 10 min to spare relative to my (very conservative) schedule. I tried to keep the same routine on the aid stations:
  1. throw the empty gel covers
  2. drink one cup of water + 2 (or 3) cups of energy drink
  3. eat something (what looks good)
  4. grab a couple of gels for the road
  5. optional: fill the water pack -- did it 2 times
This was efficient and I felt well with the food (Sponser mostly).

I passed First first time with sunrise colors still in the sky - in Europe it takes time for the sun to get up, especially with mountains around, and ran down an easy smooth pass to Bort station (17.4km). The climb back to First went through forest trail, steep but not dramatic, I took it easy, we had plenty of more climbing to do this day... and arrived to First station (22km) well before 9:00 (projected time). Here I met Vitaly and Michael for the first time in a set up that will be repeated 3 more times during the race: Vitaly waiting with camera at the station, Michael 200m before the station ready to catch me and walk with me to the station.
I got few pictures, the  food, a hug and was sent on my way till I meet them next time at half past 3 at Burglaunen station, 53 km. I still had a lot to climb before it though... The highest point was at Faulhorn that we saw from our hotel room looming at 2680m. On the way there it became colder and windy and the rain started, I got dressed up on my way, and did not stay long up there ...
The way down was the first and one of the most technical steep descents, enhanced by the rain.

Half way down to Shynige Platte at Egg station it warmed up again, so I put away the jackets, but this filled up the pack and I did not feel that I was almost out of the water already at the station. It's just about 6 km from Egg till Shynige Platte, but with the trail being that technical and mostly single trail (so every one had to wait in the line from time to time) it took not less than an hour, so I had time to get thirsty.
From there we had more rather steep descent to the midway station at Burglaunen were I saw Vitaly and Michael and we had two more meetings scheduled for the day: one in Wengen, another in Maennlichen, both  after rather brutal uphills with 1 VK of ascent each.
Arrival to Wengen carried plenty of positive energy just as it was each time for the Jungfrau marathon: people were cheering on the streets, with traditional "Bravo! Hop! Hop!", caw bells ringing and a lot of smiles on the way. I filled the water pack, this time on schedule, said "hi" to Vitaly and Michael and said that I plan to take it slow (not easy, even very slow was not easy on the climb to Maennlichen).
These 6 km took me more than an hour and a half... I had passed people taking every excuse to rest (like passing 100 more vertical meters, taking long time to take pictures, etc...) A couple of guys were right a step behind me, but when I offered to step aside so they could pass me, they insisted they felt much better where they were.
waiting for the storm to pass, Kleine Sheidegg

I took a bit more time for this station since I would not see my family till the finish, took warm clothes for the night and prepared the head lamp for the journey to Kleine Sheidegg, then started running easy downhill well before 20:00. It was still light, but there were more clouds and wind was getting stronger. It started raining and by 20:30; there were plenty of impressive lightnings followed explosive thunder with seconds between. I got to another turn to be met by race marshals who directed me to the short cut trail to Kleine Sheidegg, just ~500 m ahead and said that the race was interrupted, the storm was too dangerous and I would be safe at the station.

There was a long waiting till the storm passed and the runners were allowed to continue at 23:15. Due to the long wait the original route was changed and did not pass through Pfingstegg anymore. We went down almost to Grindelwald and then up to Alpiglen + Marmorbruch and then back to Grindelwald.
I had no idea where the updated went, and the timing made much less sense after a long break, so I took it even more slow than the rest of the race... Of course it might be also a touch connected to the couple of blisters that broken up and made sloshing sounds while I moved, or the fact that I managed to get a bit stiff during the break, but I believe that it's also the fact that I do not like to work too hard.

Eventually I got to the finish and even managed to send SMS to Vitaly 5 min before I passed (running!) this special bridge on the finish line. Unlike many other races I did not have to look where to hand in the chip or collect my finishing gear: I was met immediately after crossing the finish line by race official who took the chip off, handed the finisher sticker + t-shirt (in right size!!!) to me and a finishing Eiger stone!

It was amazing race, beautiful, hard, perfectly marked route (with reflective color on the ground + ribbons + signs), well stuffed stations with smiling and professional volunteers (500 of them!) who helped us all the way to have the best race possible.
crossing the finish line

finishing gear: Eiger stone, sticker + t-shirt with celebration bottle cork!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Sovev Emek Saga NOT Finished or the Thought on the Morning After

So one more year came and one more attempt at 166km was made.
Again I came close to finishing 4 laps only. And this time it so accurately followed the last year pattern it was just maddening...
There were some small things that were better or worse... Physically I felt good both years.
I have pictures with smiles at the aid station after 116km done as an illustration.
Now barely 2 days after my legs are not sore or not tight.

I even did not suffer at any point of the race... Yes I did get big blisters on the balls of my feet but the pain was manageable and the feet would have served me for more ~40km, I am sure of it.

Well, a few words about the race itself... Shai manages to get the race better and better with each passing year and while it seems almost impossible the race quality continues to improve.

Although somebody has to complain, right? Thus I add one more thing to wish list (hope Shai listens somewhere...): please, provide hot drinks (tea) at aid stations at night for those who really need it!!!
It just may save our race... Gal'ed and Zorea are too far apart when you are hypothermic, and hot drink every few km could really be a savior.

I loved the race atmosphere, seeing familiar faces, smiles and good morning/evening greetings of passing runners, the staff was helpful and encouraging. The sunrise was gorgeous... the weather was just perfect.

I kept it easy, the only aim was to finish full 5 rounds... I eat well, hydrated well, ran/walked smoothly and felt strong all the time. I finished 3 rounds (100km) 20 min slower than last time but as conservative as I where that was really not surprising and I where really happy with how it went. Yes I were getting tired but that was to be expected: even 100km walk in the park takes some energy.
I did not feel cold, but it was night, so I swapped the light sleeveless shirt to thermal long sleeve craft shirt I use when temps are above 10 degrees. I were still warm when moving, but felt some chill when stopped to drink at aid stations.
Then I started for hot drink at aid stations... but the was none... so I just kept moving.
I got the 4th green band from Zorea to Gal'ed and there was hot tea. That was a blessing!

After a cup of tea I was on my way (116km done), got back bounce (well, kind of) into my step and good mood with it. All was great until it was not... I was getting colder... asked to spare hot drink at next aid station, but they had none.
Just few hundred meters after (a bit more than 120km) I were shivering, I tried to move faster but my muscles where contracting while I shivered and I had really little control over them. That were the longest 2.5 km ever till the next station and I remember not much of it, the only thought I had to get warm soon... Of course there was no hot drinks at next station, but the was a car. I asked for a few min with heat on and immediately got it with worried smiles and wind jacket to warm up. I thought to start going as soon as I get better... but I did not. I did not get better and could not held people from their plans forever... Finally I got the ride to Zorea, thanked my kind hosts and went  to return the chip and GPS again... barely 10 meters off the heated car and I could barely stand shaking from cold.
Measured body temp. was 34 degrees.

I was helped to warm up there with blankets and hot drinks but as soon as I got up (with wool thick jacket on me now) I was shaking again. My race was over just like the last year after 20 hours and the cause was the same: hypothermia. No I am not sorry that I decided to stop at the circumstances... I still am aware and shocked by Jon Tvedt death, so I did not wish to play with fire (cold).

But... of course I am disappointed. What did I do wrong? What should have I done to prevent it? These questions are on my mind now and I have research to do, problem to solve.

I must admit I am not the best person to keep body heat even in my everyday life... I am one of those who always need more clothes to stay warm, are against air conditioners, and ask for hot drinks during summer. I am also have a light form of hypothyroidism... although I seem to pick up the muscle mass from breathing alone...

Still I was warm moving one moment and shivering just a minute later...

Shall I come again? I believe that I shall, so Shai, looking forward to enjoy your hospitality once again.

Thanks to everybody who helped/smiled/cheered me on the route!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Matterhorn Ultraks 2014

After a long (a whole year!) silence I am back for another race review. I have been asked a few times about my last trip and I would love to share my impressions from this beautiful race: Matterhorn Ultraks, 2nd edition - 2014.

The race is relatively short: about 46 km (although many Garmins measured a couple of km more than that) with good 3600m climbing (and of course 3600m descending).

It was not exactly a "focus race" of the year, but I must admit I was kind of scared for some reason. Well, I were not injured and had a good recovery + training after Transvulcania in May, the race is not the longest (distance or time) I've done, but... still I had proper butterflies in me going into it.

Before going into details, I can tell that the race is hard, really hard, the climbs are properly long and steep and descents are good too, less technical than I expected after Transvulcania and reading the race reports, but still with few rather slow parts, which would be even slower in wet weather...
...But in good weather it's just amazing. The route is so beautiful that you can forget about the race just staring around in those moments you are not fighting for the breath on the climb or staring on the technical trail on steep descent.

At 7:30 in the morning, August 23, I left Michael and Vitaly on the starting line in Zermatt (1600m) and started the run to the first uphill... to Sunnegga (2260m). I kept effort on comfortable level trying to ease into some kind of rhythm.
I felt ok... but definitely not a strong day for me... legs were not too heavy, but lacked the "pep" and the uphills took more effort than usually... Yea, I know that I train at sea level, but it's not the first mountain race that I did... Well, as long as I did not brush the cut off times, I decided not to fight with myself and just ran along and enjoyed every moment of the trip... I stopped to take pictures more than a few times and even moved from the trail when the view was better in some places. Anyway this race is relatively short and you cannot tire of the scenery.

At Sunnegga I was @ the back of the pack since I was slow starting and then the single trail had traffic jams, but later on runners were a bit more sparse and I slowly made my way to Gornegratt (3130m) starting passing people but not too aggressively... and of course getting them pass me back when I stopped for the pictures :-) Trails were mostly not too technical and the only reason not to run them was their serious grade... so I got full worth of my BD Z-poles and settled into familiar hiking style.

The downhill to Riffelalp (2222m) was really pleasant although I am still too slow on downhills I've got much more confidence after Muhraka+Manara repeats... well, I even tried to take a wrong turn... 3 times (!) on my way, but luckily was shouted at every time and at most lost a couple of min each time.

After Riffelalp the route took us down with some technical parts to the rather dramatic hanging bridge at ~23km with "no running" sign... we were also promised one more aid station at Furi (24km, 1867m) but it for some reason was not there... Good that I did not learn the route too well, so was not too much disappointed :-)

The next big up was to  Schwarzsee (2583m), were I met Michael and Vitaly and after a few shots and 10 min I were on my way to the Stafel check point

Stafel is not an aid station, more just junction where the 30k and 46k routes part for the last time and the final cut off is enforced for 46k runners. The trail was runable and beautiful downhill, so I got to the point in time and continued upwards and again down to the last aid station in Trift (2583m).

At aid station I helped myself to a piece of really delicious cake took some pictures of sheep on the trail and continued to the last up along waterfalls and final downhill to Zermatt.

We were lucky this year to have few dry days before the race, so the downhill was with a good grip and I ran it all (slowly :-)) and suddenly it was going to end... "1km left" sign and the entrance to Zermatt followed way too quickly and I was welcomed by music just before the finish line.

Michael and Vitaly welcomed me at finish and we finished the lovely day with a good dinner at Miyoko restaurant (Michael's choice) just 300m from the finish line.

Yes, I know my time was relatively slow even for me (10:15) but I cannot say that would want to finish this race earlier, this course is worth every minute I spent on it and I loved all of them!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

LUT 2013 impressions

Forc Son Forca ~25 km

The weather before the race was much colder than is typical for the area and during race briefing (June 28, 18:00) LUT participants were informed of the following:

Thirty centimeters of snow on the high altitude paths. The North Face® Lavaredo Ultra Trail and la Cortina Trail change route and programmeBoth starts will be Saturday morning.

Last night’s snow fall leaves no choice, on the high altitude stretches and in particular along the paths of the Tre Cime Lavaredo, the Val Travenazes, the Cinque Torri and the Passo Giau, more than 30 centimetres of snow fell overnight. The North Face® Lavaredo Ultra Trail and la Cortina Trail will adapt to the conditions of the mountains, changing programme and route.
As regards the North Face® Lavaredo Ultra Trail the kilometres to cover will be 85, while the start of the race has been moved to Saturday morning at 8 o’clock. 

new race profile: 85.3 km 3541 m D+

New race map, overlay with the original one

 Thus the race started in daylight on the 29th of June with "plan B" route of 85.5 km and 3540 m of elevation gain. The statistics of my run are at Garmin site.

On one hand I felt disappointed not to run the original route, on the other hand this route is still hard and the race was a great experience. I won't go into small details and describe every step, but...
  • the race day was just perfect for the race: great visibility, beautiful views, perfect organization

    Son Forca again
  • I was relatively strong and my training was sound, 2 days after the race I felt nothing running up and down the stairs which is one of the good indicators.
  • Usually I pass people on the steep uphills (power hiking) and downhills (running), NOT this time! uphill was still good, I believe I can count on my fingers times I was passed on uphills, flats were fine, but DOWNhills (which are usually my strong side) were disaster... especially technical ones... covered with roots and mud... Sometimes mud got higher than ankles... One thing, I was paranoid not to twist ankles and with a good reason. Even aided by trekking poles I fell twice, luckily with not much damage done. Italians were swift and precise and I were negotiating with the terrain at the snail pace.
  • Another weak point: aid stations (MY weak point). If you look at my stats, moving time was 2 hours 21 minutes less than total time! Yes, there were 7 aid stations on the route, which is not too much. I just need to learn to be more efficient and not waste time.
  • Last but definitely not least: Michael and Vitaly met me on two stations (Misurino and Cimabanche) and it was really great to see them.

Michael also run last 100 m with me till the finish wich was close to midnight but still on the 29th of July...

passing the finish line

Monday, 25 February 2013

Arava Race (Yoni) 2013

Last weekend race was a 84.4km journey in the Arava desert, which started and finished at Antelope Farm.
Not sure I'll ever run it again, but I did enjoy the experience and got home in one piece (and injury free)

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Interlaken Trip, 2012

A very late post... but better later than never...
following the marathon route: day 1
We had our family vacation together with 20th anniversary of Jungfrau Marathon. I had done double version (both on 8th of September and on 9th of September) while Michael and Vitaly played a role of a perfect support team.

We also had a few days for beautiful walks in the area, pictures are on-line.

a Jungfrau background picture

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Haute Route 2012

Fenetre D'Arpette, 2665m
The route was done in "fastpacking" style in 5 days, from July 23 to July 28.
Some pictures from the route in a Shutterfly photo book form (press "view photo book" and go to full screen option).
Few highlights (in pictures, of course are below):

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Michael's Birthday 2012

Michael turned 11 this Sunday and he celebrated it first with his friend at Boulder Climbing Wall (Haifa).

As all the kids he invited are his friends from judo team, instead of usual games they were treated to the introductory training session of 1 and half hours with Ben Emergi, and then had the place for themselves for as long as they wished.

Of course, Birthday Cake, some Pizza and snacks were included and some pictures taken...

Heard from Michael that kids enjoyed the party, although were a bit sore the next day, hope that some of them will get back to the place and we have new climbers there...

Happy Birthday to the big boy and good luck to him in everything!

Dolev, Michael, Rotem, Daniel, Omri, Amir, Tal and Mayan with Ben behind the group.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

First Haifa Stair Race (2012)

This actually is an "old news" post... thanks to Shvoong service uploading pictures to FB automatically...

Anyway... this was really a pleasure to join the run. Most stair races take you on a trip up the building stair well, not this race! The race started at sea level, Haifa Port and lead us to Carmel Center (near Dan Hotel) via Haifa streets and 1075 stairs for 3.4km.

The organization was just perfect and though I had a slow result for the short race (28 minutes) I loved every minute spent on the course.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Mountain 2 Valley 2012

Mountain 2 Valley is a relay event covering ~215km from Tel Hai in the North to Timrat (Izrael Valley). It can be done in the teams of 8, 6 or 4 runners or as either long (215km) or "short" (129km) ultra run.

This time I coerced 3 colleagues from Intel Jerusalem to form a 4 team and to enjoy the consequences.

We had a mixed team: two fast guys: Jonathan Maresky and Tsion Vidal and two "slower" ladies: me and Clementine Haddad. The race took us 20 hours 35 minutes of running + driving the "fresh-tired" runners to the next section. It was new experience to all of us, Jonathan &Clem done the race in bigger 8-team a year ago and it was first relay for me & Tsion.