The beginning (2013)
Everything started with the idea that I had to get away from my most fanatic attitude towards climbing, because I had to focus on my studies/work… How can I stay in good physical shape without any climbing objectives (i.e. without training to do harder climbing routes)?
Well, the best exercise that I know, to burn the maximum number of calories per hour is running… I know, I’ll start running more. One thing led to another and because I did not want to be in a competitive mode in running, either, I choose not to try to improve my first marthon time (3:10), but just to try to runner longer and in the nature.
Bought myself some trail shoes and off I went! The first almost marathon distance I done in trail was by accident. In Sevilla (Spain) at that time, while I decided to go for a 20k slow run, during the run I met some local guys that pushed me to a higher than expected pace but almost without noticing it. Moreover, as I was used to running alone that part of the race was made without ever feeling tired… Contrarily to what I had planned what was supposed to be a 20k run (10k in one direction + 10k returning to the car) became a 4h36 and 41k, 555D+ run (20+k in one direction + 20+k returning to the car). And for the first time, I bonked, I met the hammer, you know what I mean! Alone, I felt dizzy, without any energy and with difficulties to get to my car, in the middle of nowhere, and in a different country.
After a month reading about food, energy, hydration, and actually running too, I decided to do my first ultra trail run (53k, 740m) doing more or less the course of the race “Ultra Trail de Turdetania” (Spain). This time fully equipped with enough food, water and energy drink this is still my longest run with full autonomy (carrying all my food and water), which is a concept that I really like. Ultras are usually done in semi-autonomy (in the intermediate checkpoints you usually have food or at least water). And, 5h49 later and already without water, I finish alone my first Ultra Trail! Nice feeling of achievement and with the bonus of receiving props from some MT bikers who were doing the same course on bike and for whom the last kms were done at my pace, due to technical difficulties, of course.
It was, more or less, around this time that I thought that maybe this was already the start of my path for the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB)!
When one starts to read about Mountain or Ultra Trail Running, it is impossible that you don’t find yourself reading stuff about the great, the mighty, UTMB. Considered the race of all mountain races. The olympic games, the Everest, of ultra mountain racing. In short, The Race! … and when one tries to find out how can one apply for such a race, one learns about their point system – where you basically have to prove you can finish the race, by doing other races, before you can actually go there and prove it. Although this is a major detractor, for me, as I can’t get the same motivation when I already know that I can do something, I though ” let me start a sustained path, of increasingly longer distances (including some races – to gain some UTMB points) that, if all goes as planned, might lead me to the UTMB starting line. That’s when I decide to sign in for the 70k of “Ultra Trail da Serra da Freita”. One of the most respected and feared trail races in Portugal! The most difficult 70km I’ve done to this day (i.e. 2015-Sept-02).
Extremely motivated to do it, by all the laughs I got when I mentioned this would be my first official trail (race) I started a 3 months preparation for this race, but one that would be much more pleasant than I have expected has I found made some running partners and good friends, along the way.
Say what? The “Ultra Trail da Serra da Freita” does not give points for the UTMB?! Uff, that’s a bummer!!
After reading the organization comments about this issue I had mixed feelings about this issue. On one hand I would not gain any points, in 2013, to apply to UTMB. On the other hand I kind of liked the anti-system and the strong identity of the race, nationally! What the hell, I’m doing this race! I wanna do it!
(Work in progress)