11 November 2013

Race plan 2014

It is over one month since I wrote here on the blog. The time now in late October and November, when the leaves have fallen and before the snow has arrived, with its cold fall rains and darkness, is certainly a challenge for the mood. I have struggled with some unforeseen challenges at work and home as well so the melancholy I have felt can probably be related to this and not post-race depression after TDG, even though that this might have contributed to some extent. I am still dreaming almost every night about TDG and the race is making its voice heard daily, it has really carved out a niche in my heart and sometimes I desperately long back – feelings apparently shared by other runners.

The training has resumed its normal routine and I average a modest 80-100 km/week with the focus on my daily commuting runs to and from work. Not particularly uplifting, in particular as the track is largely on asphalt roads and regretfully not very undulating and hilly at all. I feel very strong, however, and my legs are swift and alert even after my long runs and I feel no ankle or Achilles tendon pain as I did last pre-season period. I am probably quite slow now, however, and my aerobic capacity is probably not on top level as I have not done any speed or interval training the past month. But, I guess it is a good thing to long to the hill repeat training as well.

Strenuous downhill and uphill training is certainly going to be needed if my race plans for 2014 are fulfilled. I have signed up for the Hardrock 100 2014 lottery, and even though my chances of being drawn in the lottery are slim to say the least. There are now 1024 applicants to the 140 places and the registration for the lottery is not closing until the end of November so I guess there will be more runners signing up. Interestingly, there are three Swedes in the lottery this year, besides myself Johan Steene, a member of the Swedish national ultrarunning team and among other things a finisher of Leadville 2013, and Daniel Skog, who also finished Leadville 2013 for the qualification. No Swede has to my knowledge yet participated or completed Hardrock 100 – Camilla Ringström tried to get a starting place this year, but was unlucky in the lottery draw. Hardrock is considered one of the world’s thoughest 100 mile races, being held each July in the Southern Colorado's San Juan Mountain Range in the USA. It starts in Silverton and passes travels through the towns of Telluride, Ouray, and the ghost town of Sherman, crossing thirteen major passes in the 12,000' to 13,000' range, before returning to Silverton. The race is alternating between a clockwise and counterclockwise route and for 2014 it is the clockwise route – believed by some to be faster as there are more long runnable downhill road sections in this direction, but on the other hand some major climbs are coming later in the race.

Altitude profile of Hardrock 100
I think the major challenge with Hardrock 100 for me is not going to be the distance or the climbs, even though the race has an impressive D+ of 10361 meters leading to a D+/km of 64.4 (which can be compared with UTMB’s D+/km of 57.1 and TDG’s of 72.7), but the average and maximum altitude. The average altitude of Hardrock 100 is around 11,000 feet (3253 meters) and the highest pass, Handies Peak, at a staggering 14048 feet (4282 meters). The first rule in the Runner’s Manual for Hardrock is “No Whining” and runners with acrophobia are strongly urged not to participate. In the beginning of December I will now the outcome of the lottery and if I am lucky the race is on July 11 next year.

My major goal for 2014 is however La Petite Trotte à Léon (PTL) with a start in Chamonix on August 25, the longest race in the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) family. PTL is not a competitive race as it is run in teams of 2-3 persons and there is no official classification. To participate at least one team member has to be a previous finisher of either the full UTMB, or Tor des Géants (TDG). I really hope to be part of a team in PTL for 2014 and I am in discussions with another very experienced Swedish runner who is setting up a team for next year. The PTL course is different each year and next year’s course was just made official on the UTMB webpage. It is without doubt going to be the thoughest course so far with a distance of 307.1km (190 miles) and a D+ of 28,272m (92,756 ft), which gives an absolutely unprecedented D+/km of 92.1. This is higher than all other comparable ultraraces. The course is going to be extremely spectacular as it will pass several passes over 3000 meters (9,843 feet) in a new high altitude route between the valleys of Trient and Entremont down to the Aosta valley by Valgrisenche coming back to Chamonix via the high passes which dominate the Petit Saint Bernard and finally Mont Joly.  

PTL 2014 Course
The major peaks and cols during PTL 2014 will among others include some high altitude technical passes at Cabane de Trient at 3170m, Mont Rogneux at 3083m, Col de l’Ane 3033m, Col de la Sassière 2841m and Col de l’Argueray 2853m. I think PTL 2014 is going to be an absolutely epic race if the weather is favorable permitting the full course to be run. There is no lottery to PTL, but I expect the 80 team slots to be quickly filled when registration opens on December 19.

PTL 2014 official time, distance and altitude chart


If I am not successful in securing a place in a team at PTL 2014 I will most likely enter the TDG lottery again and forfeiting my coefficient of 2 for the regular UTMB 100 mile race I got when I was unlucky in the last draw. After having run, albeit in the opposite direction, a small part of the UTMB course between the Bonatti and Bertone huts in TDG, this race somehow lost the magic it previously had in my mind. TDG on the other hand is now more than ever in my thoughts and I know there are plenty to discover during a repeated race.

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