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!