The Grand Union Canal Race…is there anything you would rather be doing on a bank holiday weekend?
Possibly there is, but if not, see my report here.
Garmin Connect Track incl splits etc: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/507989611
Right then. Here’s an offer you can’t refuse – the chance to spend the 24th and 25th of May viewing the countryside (and whatever else there is) between London and Birmingham. You even get a free night beforehand in Birmingham in the top-rated ‘Premier Inn Birmingham Broad Street (Canal Side)’.
Email me for more info…
Another one that I never got round to writing up, but it’s a highly recommended event. If 78km doesn’t float your boat, they have a number of different distances from 10km and up, all finishing in the same stadium at Davos in the afternoon. Complete with the usual Swiss efficiency (transport to Davos is included in the race entry), good checkpoints, and opportunities for the more intrepid spectators to see you – another one for my ‘do again’ list.
My photos can be found here
I was stopped on a hairpin about half way up the Col du Tricot. Maybe a bit more, maybe less. It was 1am, I’d been racing for 18 hours and 100km. ‘That last hill on the profile,’ Elisabet had commented two days ago, ‘it’s harder than it looks. It’s not just a little hill. Make sure you keep something for it.’ A random Icelander with whom I had queued to collect the start number giving her two cents worth, based on her own previous experience. But I hadn’t kept anything for it. I was stopped, my last energy gel had been slurped up, and I thought I was running low on water.
If that wasn’t funny then, to quote Yossarian of Catch-22, there were a lot of things that weren’t even funnier. The coming descent to Les Houches for a start, a drop of 1,200 toe-destroying metres over 9km into the Chamonix Valley. Someone passed where I stood and I tucked in behind him to see if I could get pulled up the mountain. Or her, as it turned out. What was it about the Col du bleedin’ Tricot and fast running women?
Rewind 18 hours to the pre-dawn, getting ready for the start. The bus to Courmayeur, hanging around in the sports hall, the short walk to the start, dropping off the bags. Everything working as it should. I found a spot
reasonably near the front as part of my tactic to have a good couple of kilometres through town prior to picking up the trail somewhere in the top 200 or so, to hopefully minimize queueing in the first narrow sections and more importantly, at the first couple of checkpoints until the field spread out. This would happen quite naturally over the first section and sooner or later I would find myself among those going more or less the same speed as me.
See my full report here
And more pictures here
Jumping a bit…maybe I will fill in the gaps between the Diagonale des Fous and this one at some point, maybe I won’t.
The UTSW nearly didn’t happen at all for me. To get to the muster point, Newquay, I would fly from Copenhagen to Gatwick on Easyjet, and from Gatwick to Newquay on FlyBe. Almost 2 hours to connect at Gatwick, together with handluggage only (provided EasyJet let me carry it) – I would be fine.
Arriving at the low cost arm of Copenhagen airport, we were advised of a short delay. The aircraft itself appeared to be there, but bad weather at Gatwick was causing long delays. It sounded ominous. Minutes became quarter hours, quarter hours became half hours, an hour…
Eventually we were on, but warned we would probably have to wait some time before the plane was cleared to go. Finally, an hour and 45 minutes late, we were off. If the flight took its scheduled time, I would have 10 minutes to connect at Gatwick – and the reported bad weather made it likely we would be delayed further. I tried not to think about it.
Approaching London, the bad weather was visible. We descended through clouds and sheets of rain, but at least had not lost further time. The doors were open exactly 15 minutes before my next flight was due to depart. I legged it down the back steps and into the terminal, wearing my trainers anyway as I had reasoned that if EasyJet had made me check my bag in, these were the things I did not want to have to replace on the day if the luggage got lost. Through the terminal to immigration – luckily the auto-gates had no queue and my new passport has a chip in it. Through customs, trying to look as though I wasn’t a dodgy bloke legging it. Up to the departurers level; another miracle, no queue at security. An elderly couple wished me luck as I sprinted off, just in time to see the status of my flight turning to ‘closed’ on the overhead boards. Nothing to do but keep running, straight through the waiting area, over a line of chairs and down a never-ending passage towards the gates.
‘What flight are you looking for?’ enquired the girl at the beginning of the FlyBe gates.
‘Newquay,’ I replied, ‘but i think I’m too late.’
‘Just down there on the left,’ she smiled.
I could have kissed her but I would have missed the flight. The door closed behind me and I was on the way to Newquay, bang on time, having run what was probably my fastest mile of the entire weekend already.
See the rest of the race report here
And some more pictures here