Let the racing begin…

The racing season has begun! I’ve been in Geneva this week on a work trip that coincided, happily, with the Run&Skate race that took place today in Chamonix, France.

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Overlooking Chamonix, the Aiguille du Midi and Bosson Glacier.

Conceived in 2008 by a local trail running and ski shop, Ravenel and Co, the Run&Skate race has traditionally consisted of a combination of cross country skiing – skate style – over 18km followed by a trail run. You can enter as an individual or as a team. This year, they added a separate 12km trail run – the “Trail Blanc” – with 420m of elevation:

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I’ve raced in the Chamonix valley in the summer. Racing there in the winter was a new departure for me and it was truly awesome.

First off, it began, as my support crew James pointed out, at the very civilized time of 10.30am which allowed for a full night’s sleep and relaxed start to the day which is rarely the case.

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And they’re off. Photo courtesy of James Heenan

Second, the course was superb. It was clearly laid out, well-marshalled and offered great variety in terms of narrow single track, wider fire roads, and long, steep, twisty climbs and descents. It began with around 2.5km of relatively gentle climbing along the valley bottom where I was clocking an average pace of 5.20. This was fast for me. I’m normally more conservative but had been thinking in the days leading up to this that it might be worth pushing myself a little harder and seeing what happens.

Before too long, things turned steep and twisty and it was more a case of hiking than running up the trail and through the trees:

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At the 5km mark, the trail headed downhill and we left the trees behind for sloping meadows until we reached the turning point at Le Lavancher.

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On the descent to Le Lavencher.

Then there was a gentle climb along a largely snow-covered road back in the direction of Chamonix, followed by a return to the trails and some fast descending, a short steep section and descent and then a relatively flat 3km back to the finish.

I finished in 1 hour 22 minutes and felt pretty stoked. This was speedy by my standards and I felt strong throughout the race. This was a good learning experience for me – that I can up the pace and not have it end in disaster. All that time on the climbs around Canmore seems to be paying off.┬áIt was a great run on a great course. What a terrific start to the season.

Back soon with more on my racing plans for the season. Until then, happy trails.

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