08 December 2014

Race plan 2015

The miracle did not happen this weekend, except for some elite runners, and my race plan for next year is therefore now more certain. As I had “only” waited two years and this was the second time I participated in the Hardrock 100 lottery I had only a 2.5% chance of getting entrance to the race. Next year I will have a "stunning" 5% chance of acceptance (yes, I am being ironic), and the fourth year the chance will approach 10% - but it is likely going to be even less as I except that the number of participants in the lottery will continue to increase in the coming years.  My qualification race for the last two lotteries has been the Tor des Géants 2013 and, since I focused on Petite Trotte à Léon (PTL) last year, that means I will have to participate in a qualifying race in next year if I want to stay in the lottery. While that is relatively easy in the US with plenty of 100 mile races, here in Europe there are only four possible qualifying races; Tor des Géants, UTMB, Ultratrail Ehunmilak and Ronda del Cims. UTMB is also the subject of a rather severe lottery process and as I only ran PTL last year I have not the qualification points any longer so that is not a possibility. I am still considering Tor des Géants for next year, it is an absolutely great race in a fantastic environment and the hospitality in the Aosta valley during the race is unprecedented and an experience in itself. However, it is also getting much harder to get entrance to this race. Remains Ehunmilak and Ronda del Cims. Even though I think both are really great races and I long to run in Spain and Andorra, I have decided to focus on other shorter more technically challenging skyrunning races at that time of next summer. So, it looks like I risk losing my place in the line in the Hardrock 100 lottery, but considering the odds it would probably have been many years before I would get entrance anyway. I guess you cannot achieve all your dreams and there are certainly other great races out there.

For 2015, my confirmed races so far are the following; firstly Ice Trail Tarentaise (ITT), a 65 km/5000 m D+ long skyrunning ultramarathon in Val d’Isère on 12 July. It is Europe’s highest skyrunning race with an average altitude of over 2500 m and the passage of La Grand Motte  at 3656 meters and L’aiguille Pers at 3386 meters. The course looks spectacular and I truly hope the snow conditions and weather permit the running of the full course next year. I was lucky to get a place in the race as it became full in just over one week.

Course of Ice Trail Tarentaise

Altitude profile of Ice Trail Tarentaise

The second confirmed race is Mont Blanc 80 km on June 26, a less technical, but still challenging ultramarathon with a D+ of 6600 km. As an early summer race it is also quite weather depending, as the highest points of the race are over 2500 meters (Col du Corbeau  at 2602 meter and Col de la Terrasse at 2643m) and the course passes some snow fields/minor glaciers. As it is only two weeks before ITT, which is my primary race, I will probably use this race as acclimatization to the altitude and mountain environment in combination with a short vacation in Chamonix depending on the family and work plans. I have looked at Mont Blanc 80 km for quite some time and as it is also a very popular race with a lottery process and here I was lucky to get entry for next year.
Course of Mont Blanc 80 km
Altitude profile of Mont Blanc 80 km

The third race where I have a slot is a short skyrunning race, Matterhorn Ultraks, on August 22. It is moderately technical and short, just 46 km with a D+ of 3600 meters, but it is in a stunning mountain environment in Switzerland around Zermatt with great views of Matterhorn and the surrounding mountains and valleys from the highest point of the race at Gornergrat at 3130 meters. I am still quite uncertain about this race, however, and are perhaps more inclined for a longer race like Echappee Belle (Ultra Traversee de Belledonne) , which is 140km with 10800m D+.  I am also considering Tromsö Skyrace earlier in August or Serre Che Skyrace in September. The registration for these races is not open yet and I guess it might be difficult to gain access at least to the Tromsö race.
Course of Matterhorn Ultraks
Altitude profile of Matterhorn Ultraks
The race I am most eager to run, but which I have promised myself and my family not to repeat in 2015, is PTL again. The UTMB organization just published the course for next year and it looks absolutely stunning with for instance a great passage of Tête de Licony near Morgex. Also some of the other passages are formidable.  I will certainly be envious of the teams taking on the challenge and I sincerely hope there will be at least one Swedish team participating.

The course of PTL 2015

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