I’m really gonna have to work my memory for this one but I have some notes from after the race to get me going. A few weeks before the race I took a pretty bad fall and had some pain in my right knee. It was so bad I even had to abort a shorter run I did in the week before the race. That didn’t bode well. As if that wasn’t enough I also had a bad back which gave me ischias pains and a lot of pain in my left hip. I was worried but it wasn’t going to stop me from at least standing on the start line.
The bus for the start in Courmayeur left at 4am. As usual I hadn’t gotten much sleep that night, nerves and excitement made sure of that. When I got there I just took it easy, sat down for a while, had some breakfast and just looked at my fellow runners. There’s always this weird kind of excitement in the air, nervousness and the lack of sleep puts people in a strange state.
The race started and once we hit the first uphill the sun also started to rise. Almost right away I got pains in my left hip and my right knee, as expected, but it wasn’t too bad. I kept on grinding up that mountain and once I hit the the top the pain was almost gone and I felt pretty great actually. I kept on moving well and gaining positions all the time, even in the uphills which is usually where I do the worst. After the Col Chavannes there’s a 7-8 kilometer long traverse which I flew down. Those were by far my fastest splits and that’s probably where I felt the best during the entire race.
After the Bourg Saint-Maurice aid station the biggest climb of the race starts and I knew it was going to be a doozy. It was unbelievably hot and I didn’t want to finish my water all at once so I had small sips and was saving the whole way up and at times, above the tree line, the sun was shining and hit me like a torch. At one point a supporter with a huge danish flag past me and was cheering me on. He was such a character that I couldn’t be entirely sure I wasn’t imagining him but then I noticed other people reacting to him as well. No hallucinations. Yet at least. I did however run out of water before I got to the top but thankfully some kind spectators was aware of this and came down with just enough to wet the tongue and that was plenty at the moment.
It was starting to get dark a little while before Col du Joly and when I got there it was pitch black. I could hear the music playing a long ways before I got there and upon arrival I was confused. It seemed like there was some kind of party there but barely any people. My tired mind had trouble comprehending this. I just thought there would be a lot more people there for some reason.
The climb up to Col du Tricot was truly horrible, so steep and I could see a trail of headlights all the way up. I saw a floodlight at the top so at least I knew from the start where I was heading and how far it was but man, it was so steep. One step at a time. I kept telling myself I just needed to move, it didn’t have to be fast as long as I moved. I kept checking my pulse, and had been for a while and I knew exactly how hard I could push before it was too much.
At some point I ran out of water and I got kind of desperate. I finally stumbled upon some running water, it wasn’t much though. I had to get down on my knees and press my face against the ground and slurp that water mixed with a lot of dirt but, oh, how sweet it was. At the end I couldn’t push my pulse beyond 130, if I did I noticed right away something was wrong. But as long as I kept it around there I was fine.
The guy ahead of me on the decent down to Les Houches was screaming and swearing, I couldn’t figure out to what or whom. As it turns out he was really mad at his quads which were completely trashed and he was stumbling the whole way down. My quads were killing me as well but I knew that everyone was hurting there so that was no reason to slow down, on the contrary, I started speeding up. I’m good on the down hills, quad pain wasn’t gonna stop me if my hip hadn’t yet.
I came into this race with a goal of sub 20 but with the knowledge of my injuries I knew that might be impossible and with that in mind my goal would quickly change to just finishing. I ended up doing something inbetween and considering the circumstances I’m satisfied with the end result. Out of 1818 runners at the start 1251 finished the race and 567 did not. I ended up in 158th place and top hundred in my category with a time of 21:49:17.
The absolute best part of the race though, of any race really, is crossing that finish line and having my family and my girlfriend there. It’s such an amazing feeling. Nothing compares to it and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.