Along with the new year comes planning yet another running season. And I’m excited for this one. After running my first mountain marathon and my first ultra trail last year I plan to continue on the path of trail running. In the first few months it’s all about building the basis for the races I plan to do. Until end of March I build up my mileage by increasing the weekly long runs and I’ll do some speed-work as well. When spring arrives I leave the flat terrain and start training more and more on hilly trails to prepare myself for the races I plan to do this year.
I’ll probably do a half marathon and a full marathon on flat terrain but my focus in 2017 is on long distance mountain running events. I chose to participate in these three races:
Distance: 61 km (38 miles)
Elevation: 4,100 D+
Date: July 9th
Like the other two events this race will take place in southwest Switzerland in the heart of the Alps. Not that this region is particularly close to where I live but down there every valley seems to have an ultra trail event.
This weekend features three races of different distances from 29 km to 111 km. I’ll do the one in the middle a 61k trail run covering over 4,000 meters of elevation gain. Runners need to overcome three steep ascents of around 1,000m each. The landscape in the Swiss Alps is awesome and exactly where I like to run around for a couple of hours.
When I’m able to finish it I’ll be pretty confident for the other two races as this one seems to be the toughest out of the three I plan to run.
Distance: 55 km (34 miles)
Elevation: 3,500 D+
Date: August 31st
I’m very excited for this one! The OCC (Orsière – Champex – Chamonix) is one of the five races of the legendary Ultra-Trail Du Mont Blanc event. The UTMB is one of the biggest and toughest mountain races in Europe and the atmosphere on the week-long event is told to be amazing.
The OCC is the shortest of the five races during this last week in August and covers about the last third of the full passage around Europe’s highest mountain. But also for this one runners need to qualify by racing in one or two races earning four or more ITRA qualifying points. Just qualifying for the UTMB races is not enough. In the OCC usually over 2’500 athletes apply for the 1’200 tickets. And then the lottery decides. A few days ago I got notified that I got picket to run!
So after years of following the UTMB events I finally have the chance to participate in one of them. Obviously I’m excited and try to suck in as much of the great atmosphere in the Swiss and French mountains as I can.
Distance: 60 km (37 miles)
Elevation: 2,200 D+
Date: October 14th
This is the only one of the three races that I already ran. I did it last year and it was my first race longer than the marathon distance. I had a great time last fall on a beautiful but tough day in the mountains. I raced for eight hours and it felt awesome crossing that finish line after hundreds of meters up and downwards on narrow trails.
This is one of the smaller events of this kind with about a hundred athletes running the 60k loop starting in the early morning darkness at 7am. But it’s well-organized and all the volunteers on the aid stations are very friendly and supportive. It has this family like atmosphere to it that I really appreciate.
Now on the second time running this race with the know-how about the course I’ll try to strip some minutes off the eight-hour finish from last year.
As far as goals this one comes easy as my main focus is on enjoying the runs in these great surrounding and finish them if I can. It’s kind of senseless setting time goals as the terrain and weather are so unpredictable. Also I lack experience in these kind of events so I just want to survive them 🙂
Come back here later this year to see how I did!