This year was my second time attempting to run the Lavaredo Ultra Trail. I am quite drawn to this race. It is a tough and mostly unforgiving 119km course. The atmosphere and challenge of the course is fascinating and I arrived at Cortina a few days before the race with 2 aims:
- To finish feeling stronger than last year
- To try and get a better timing than last year
My coach Andy DuBois had been running me through a few tough months of training to help me prepare for the race. Reaching Cortina, I managed a couple of short training sessions, made some new friends such as Gary Gellin and met up with the Hong Kong crew, which was fantastic and intimidating at the same time. It was at this point I realised,
“Wow there are a lot of top athletes here, I should go hide in the slow corner where I belong.”
It was a special moment to meet my mom and dad at Cortina. This was the first time both of them were at a race to support me, which was cool.
I was nervous. It had been about a year since my last ultra and I had not done much racing at all since then. My nerves were getting to me and a massive thunderstorm before the race did not help at all. A brief yoga session helped me find peace within myself and the assurance that if I moved forward, everything would be alright.
I was craving for this race. Not just the idea of running it, but the silence during the journey. Ultras give me an excuse to be mostly silent & non-conversational for over a day. It is a contemplative sport. One is pushing hard yet we ask ourselves why…and through that process we may or may not ever find the answer.
I was very conservative in my start and did not make an effort to move quick in the first 20km. It helped me warm up and get into a decent rhythm. The moon was out, there was thunder in the distance and I could see headlamps snaking downhill in the distance, pretty epic stuff.
Getting into Misurina involved me witnessing a runner going into the mud and exiting shoeless. There was a lot of mud. It was slippery and quite frustrating but one had to roll with the punches in such situations.
The climb up to Auronzo was fun and I felt great heading up to Tre Cime and down to Cimabanche. By the time I hit Cimabanche, the temperature had started to rise. After a quick refuel and a change of clothes, I set off and reached Malga Ra Stua and beyond for the big 20km test in the heat.
Running from Malga Ra Stua to Gallina may seem like a minor 20km, but it does involve 2 fairly punchy climbs and a run through a canyon that is warm enough to bake a naan. It was a struggle to climb up to Col des Bois. The climb was never ending. It was tough, warm, desolate and required a lot of grit and focus to reach the next checkpoint in one piece.
I was feeling a bit tired by the time I had reached Gallina, to the point I was cross-eyed-sleepy. My energy levels had dipped and it was only 95km, still close to 20km left to go with lots of climbing! A downward dog yoga pose helped to bring a rush of blood to the head and I was up and running again in no time.
The climb up to Averau was unforgiving, to say the least. Heading up to about 2400m on steep (40% gradient) slopes which were wet and slippery made me call upon any available god for strength to move, while cursing them at the same time. I told myself not to stop. As long as I was moving uphill, I was with the mountain.
Passo Giau was a short pit stop as I could see massive clouds in the distance and was not keen on getting stuck at that point. Towards the last big climb, it started raining. There was a bunch of us running, slipping and sliding throughout the last 12km before the big downhill. It was a pleasure to finally see Cortina in the distance and head towards it.
It was a special moment to hear and see my parents at the finish line. I was cold, tired but high it spirits and it felt great to finish this race.
Finish time: 21hrs 31mins
I am happy to finish LUT 2016 in a timing that is better than last year. But somehow, something deep down inside me is saying that I did not push hard enough. Lavaredo Ultra Trail is such a magnificent race and I will definitely be back again. It is one of those races that never gets easier, but it does get more beautiful.
What Went Right
- I was moving consistently throughout despite feeling horrible at some points
- Finished feeling good
- Gear worked perfectly
- Made peace with myself on the trail
What Could Be Improved
- Better focus on nutrition as I was a little low on energy at some points
- Minor breathing issues late in the race, so more breathing exercises in the future
- Left hip nerve started hurting a little bit
- Did I start too conservatively?
- Nike Kiger 3 shoes
- Injinji socks
- Salomon S-Lab Ultra Set pack