Closest thing to mountains near Holland is the Ardennes region (Belgium). And - lucky me - the Ardennes hold lots and lots of fun races. Last weekend's race (June 30th) is one of those.
53K / 33 miles - 1,600 meters / 5,300 ft elevation gain. Steep up- and downhills. All sorts of fun. :) Goal of this race was to get running buddy Laetitia - an ultra trail virgin - through the race. Sub goal was to let her have a great time.
(Photo courtesy: Leonie van den Haak)
The Ardennes' way of a start - how freaking cool is this? Way cooler than the boring gun thing. ;)
We headed out at 11:10 AM - the RD informed us that they had altered the route because of the river crossing (too much water to cross). Headed out at whatever pace felt comfortable to Laetitia. Considering the unexpected heat - wise call.
Leonie, Laetitia and moi were pretty impressed by the whole start thingie. And yes, I tricked Laetitia into the color bomb look. ;) In the back is blog reader Allan: congrats on finishing as speedy as you did! :)
Despite of two face plants (yes - within 2 miles of each other - I must learn to lift my feet), I had an amazing time. Nice relaxed run - beautiful scenery. Loved the course.
That castle all the way in the back: they made us climb it. How cool is that? :)
Things sort of went slightly wrong after this point. We might have missed a turn with a group of runners... Add another 3K / 2 miles and 200 meters / 656 ft elevation gain to the course. ;)
More uphills. Yeah, baby. :)
7 hours and 14 minutes and 56K / 35 miles (1,800 meters / 5,900 ft elevation gain) later Laetitia was no longer an ultra trail virgin. I had a blast out on the course. Legs felt fresh at the finish and ready to go for some extra hill work the next day. Great training weekend! :) And yes, I'd clearly collected every sip of water on course in my belly... Charming, huh? ;)