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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cross de la Sabliere 2011

Last Sunday saw the annual running of the local trail race the Cross de la Sabliere. It is right in the heart of the trails that border Versailles and Viroflay and is a really good speed test and fitness indicator early in the season. Now on its 32nd edition it has grown is both strength and stature as the years have passed, however, no one could have predicted the turn out for what proved to be a highly contested race. I think the popularity of the event relies on the many races that are held ranging from kiddie runs to couples races, a 5k and 10k event, relays and more.

I had been on the course a few times in the week leading up and was glad to have had the opportunity to just amble around taking pics (see my previous post) knowing that on race day my legs would be cursing me. I have never been and will never be a fast runner. Even on training sessions I prefer to go further and like wandering the hills at a steadier pace. A year previously I had ran this same course 52.28 and it was not an enjoyable experience, I went out at an unfeasible pace for the first lap and completely deteriorated on lap two. This time I planned to be quite conservative going out and hammer out the last 5 k.

I arrived at the hub of the action at 10.45 and met many of the locals milling around and chatting. I was a little tired as I had been up late following the Rocky Raccoon 100 which turned out to be history in the making. The usual pre-race chit-chat is always pleasant and gives one the opportunity to hear of new races or swap tips. Luckily I was in time to catch the end of the 5 k race and it was a close finish with Irbrahim KANTE cruising in to first place in 20 minutes flat. Second place was just thirteen seconds behind and a joint effort with Guillaume LECALLIER and Tom QUEGUINER joining hands to cross the line in unison. Tremendous effort and camaraderie.

(dedicated volunteers are the backbone of a good race)

(pre-race banter)

(Irbrahim KANTE making it look easy)

(joint second place for Tom and Guillaume)

The gun for the 10k was scheduled for 11.30 so after a few strides to warm up the start line beckoned. We were facing an alternate course this year that added on and extra half a kilometre. It also meant the start line had been moved to a different part of the forest and this presented a problem. The numbers were treble what they were last year which saw maybe 200-300 people take part and along the start line it felt bunched and unyielding. To add to this the width of the line was far greater than the bottle neck of a trail we were heading into and the first half k was an exercise in staying upright. Elbows flew, ankles were stepped on and no one gave an inch. The boys at the front though sorted this problem by snaking out the pack with a blistering early pace. Once the pace settled and I found myself with a group mid-pack I was content that I could move up on the second loop. My legs felt fresh and the halfway mark came and went without incident or discomposure, now it was time to turn up the heat. I have learned through these types of race that I lose ground on the downhill and this lap showed me that it's an area that needs work. I would breeze up the steep inclines and pass maybe 8-10 people only to have 3-4 of them pass me on the way down. I was thinking back to all those videos of Kilian Jornet just crushing dirt coming down Kilimanjaro and how he descends like a mountain goat, then again he did grow up in the Pyrenees, I grew up in Offaly :)

The last 3 km are made up of a winding track that descends before a sharp right up a steep, leg burning ascent that is imperceptible in length. Even having navigated it 20 minutes earlier, or the fact that the finish was within reach, did not make it easier. But arriving at the top I had passed many and moved up overall. I was also greeted by a cheer from the Mayor who was shouting "Allez, pour Pearl". Top man and just the incentive to push on for the last 300 metres. I was a happy camper to pass the line 76th in 48.29 (four minutes up on last year) and felt like I could have given it more. My bass-line mileage is what's important though and am happy that speed sessions like these are thrown in every so often to mix it up a bit. Congratulatins to Maxime QUEGUINER for a great win in 38.54.Thanks to all the volunteers and the race directors who work hard to make an event like this affordable, judging by the success of this year there are at least 32 more editions to come.


(bottle neck start

1 comment:

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Running for Pearl

This blog is dedicated to my daughter Pearl who was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) in August 2009. My goal is to raise funds and awareness by doing what I love....Running.