Month in review

Month in review: November 2017

November in Luxembourg is when the weather takes a turn for the worse and when daylight hours get sufficiently short so that it’s still dark before and after work; somewhat impacting my options for commuting and sports in general.

Race report

Race report: Freelander’s Trail Mersch-Hollenfels (18km, 500Hm, 4°C)

It was a lazy Saturday morning. Rain was pouring down. Either I’d drive to Mersch, 30 minutes away from home, and do a late sign-up for a 18km trail race; or I’d sit at home, complain about the weather and not get any run done. The weather was a concern, but if I managed to go out and “get it done” I figured I would not just train my muscles, but also strengthen my mental fortitude and reinforce a positive habit. So before I could change my mind, I assembled my running gear and got in the car.

Month in review

Month in review: October 2017

October was a high-volume month bike month, with a renewed focus on track training. Since I don’t have endless time and energy something had to give, so I did less running.

Cycling Race report Running

Race report: Red Rock X-Challenge 2017 (MTB/trail duathlon)

Some people train for a competition, then once they’ve completed it once never toe that particular starting line again. I’m not like that. After competing at the Red Rock X-Challenge MTB/trail duathlon in 2016 (see my 2016 race report), I signed up for this year’s edition about one month in advance.

Race report

Race Report: Ring of Steall Skyrace 2017 (29km / 2500Hm)

For some people, going up a mountain, traversing a narrow ridge and then descending over 1000m of elevation again is a day’s work. At Ring of Steall skyrace, I’d do that twice in less than 7 hours; going up and down over 2500m of elevation in the process, more than I’ve ever done in a single push.

Race report

Race Report: Mamores VK 2017 (5km, 1000Hm)

I like traveling to new locations for races. But there’s also a certain appeal to return to a race you’ve already done, and giving it another shot. Especially if said race is in scenic Scotland.

Since I’ve written quite extensively about the race in my 2016 race report, I’ll keep the writing short(er) and let the photos speak for themselves.

I wore a technical shoirt-sleeved Under Armour t-shirt, my Ronhill 2-in-1 shorts, calf-length compression socks and Salomon Speedcross 3 shoes with about 280km on them already. In my backpack (Salomon Adv Skin 5), I was carrying the mandatory protection layers (waterproof pants and rain jacket) and 0.5 liters of water in a soft flask. Also pictured is a grey-coloured second layer which I’m not sure I actually carried in then end. Not pictured are gloves, a buff and a beanie; which I all wore at higher elevations.
The starting line in Kinlochleven, next to the “Ice Factor” indoor ice climbing hall.
Emelie Forsberg started just a few people (and minutes) ahead of me. Obviously, I didn’t catch her.
1km done, already 132m up. Up to here, the surface is mostly gravel. From here on out, it got a lot muddier.
The route is sign-posted really well; even in spots where it’s not really necessary. Here, the biggest decision is in selecting the rut that has the least amount of mud.
This was probably the nastiest puddle. Looks are deceiving, I went in almost up to my knees. I saw another competitor actually trip and fall in with his whole body. (I took this picture on the way down.)
Here, the elevation gain is slightly more moderate. A decent runner can actually run this. I tried and mostly succeeded; but of course the pace is still not very fast.
2km and 220m of elevation done. km2 took me 9:06. I had an average HR of 178 on this bit, which is higher than I can usually manage.
It’s definitely worth it to look behind yourself, especially if the sun is peeking out between the clouds and there’s scenery like this.
By km3 (which took me 16:15), the real climb had started. 447m of elevation covered, which meant that over the course of the next 2km we’d still need to cover over half of the vertical kilometer. We’d left the easy trails and were now on a path-less “bog” – basically, you go up a soggy hill the quickest way possible: straight up.
Again, it pays to look further than just your own feet. Taking the camera out probably cost me a little time and some effort, but it was definitely worth it.
A look back down. Top right is the start in Kinlochleven, in the middle is the short 50m stretch of gravel road at 330m elevation gain that marks the start of the real climb.
The route up is the way down. Depending on your start time (it’s a staggered time trial start spread out over several hours) you’ll encounter people already coming down. Unlike most VK races in the Alps, there’s no cable car to shuttle yourself back down.
Eventually, the going gets slightly less steep, but rockier. The route is at the very right.
4km done, 862m up. 25:21 to cover a kilometer seems much, but it also climbed 390m.
After an endless amount of climbing up a slope that seemed almost vertical, I finally arrived at the ridge. The top is still all the way up.
And I’ve arrived. It seems that I did not take any pictures during the final kilometer.
Looking East
Quite a bit of interest in the top runners.
A look at the rockier part of the final meters. Here, the going is quite technical.
Wet bog, steep descent. I only fell on my behind about four times. I think this is where I regret that I took shoes that already had 280km of thread wear.
Shoes and socks are a little worse for the wear.
At the finish line. 14 seconds faster than the year before.
Race report

Inferno half marathon (21.1km, 2175m)

In an ongoing quest to challenge myself with longer races with ever-increasing elevation gain, I figured running a half marathon with “Inferno” in its name would be a good milestone. So in August, the wife and I set off for Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland, the location of this iconic half marathon that climbs from valley floor (795m) to Alpine mountain peak (2970m).

Race report

Race report: Karwendel Berglauf 2017

In the week leading up to this race, I had started to fall ill. But since I had taken the weekend off from my freelance job, paid for the hotel, and mentally committed to the race as an essential stepping-stone for the rest of my 2017 season, I drove down to the Alps anyway. It’s only 11km and 1462m of height gain, so no big deal, right?

Race report Trail

23km du Mont-Blanc (Chamonix, France) – 23km, 1600m

Was it wise to run the 23km du Mont-Blanc race with 1600m of elevation gain less than a day after running the Vertical Kilometer (3.8km with 1000m elevation gain), especially after not doing stellar at the VK? I didn’t know, but once more it was a challenge that would get me out of my comfort zone.

KMV Race report

Race report: Mont-Blanc Vertical KM in Chamonix

Third time’s the charm? Could the proverb be true, and was I sure to succeed at a task or event on the third try? After 2015 and 2016, I lined up at the Mont-Blanc Vertical KM in Chamonix again in 2017, intent on improving my ascent time for this race that goes up 1000m of elevation over just 3.5km of distance.