Grand Trail des Lacs et Châteaux
It was time for another trail race! On Friday afternoon Charlie and I headed to Verviers, the French speaking part of Belgium, by car. Both of us signed up for the 30km trail run with about 614m elevation. Apart from our distance, one could also sign up for 105 or 60km, or 8 and 17km taking place on the next day. I was not in my best condition as I did not went running a lot since the Paris marathon. Nevertheless, I looked forward to to participate, just to spend some time in the nature and enjoy some fresh air. :)
On the way
As the race would start on Saturday morning at 9.15AM, we decided to stay over the night before to safe some travel time. We arrived at the accommodation which was located right at the finish line.
Accommodation and pre-race dinner
There were three rooms with several bunk beds and we were lucky to find some beds in the two smaller rooms with less people. After picking up the racing number and our running goodies (a cap and a multi-usage cloth), we had our pre-race dinner which we brought from home.
The ultra runners who signed up for 105 or 60km went to bed quite early already as they needed to wake as they needed to catch their bus at 3AM, which would drive them to the start line.
I could not sleep very well that night and woke up earlier than expected.
After trying to fall asleep again a several times, I gave up and decided to get out of bed. I got dressed and packed my running backpack with my mobile phone, a banana, some nuts and dated, an energy gel (which I did not use), and filled up my drinking bubble which had 2 liter of liquid capacity with 1 1/2l of water. I met Charlie in the eating area and we got ready to depart.
We were lucky that we signed up for the start at 9.10AM and not the later one starting about one hour later as it was a really hot day.
After a bus ride of about 20minutes, we got to the starting pace perfectly in time.
Let’s get started..!
After a short briefing (in French of course! ;)) we started the run. The atmosphere was great and everyone seemed to be in a good mood.
I ran in my own pace and lost Charlie right at the beginning as he was much faster. The route in the nature was beautiful. I especially liked the part with a field full of yellow flowers.
The first elevations were coming and I managed to keep on running, nevertheless I gave up on running up the inclines after 18km as it was getting really hot (about 30 degrees) and I was running out of water. Luckily, I passed a water stand really soon and could fill up my drinking bubble with another liter of water for the last 10km.
At about kilometer 23 I walked up an incline with another participant who was a more experienced trail runner from Belgium and we had great conversations about running. After some time we started running again and he quickly disappeared from my field of vision.
The sun was burning on my skin and I just wanted to arrive at the finish line to escape the sun.
After almost four hours, I finally arrived at the finish line! Well, I did not just arrive, but also knocked down a fence at the finish line. Most elegant finish. ;)
After the race
After doing some stretching in the shade, I spotted Charlie who finished within 2hr30mins. What an incredible time!!
It was probably the hardest race I participated at, but also one of the most beautiful ones. I could feel my calves for three days.
Even though the route was 30km, it was almost as challenging as running a marathon for me. I had to get used to the elevations and the heat. I greatly enjoyed being surrounded by nature and having had to pay constant attention on the route.
The organization was great, everything went well and I greatly enjoyed the nice atmosphere with great people. Charlie and I would definitely participate at the race again and would also recommend it to other trail runners! :)