Première sortie de la saison à Mont Tendre

On Saturday I did my first run up Mont Tendre for this season. It's one of my favorite climbs, the views are great and there is a good mix of forest and open trail to run on. It has been warm here with beautiful spring weather so I thought that the route might be clear of snow, but there was still quite a lot in the shaded areas higher up. Hopefully it will all melt soon for faster ascents and better trail-running training.

Mont Tendre is the closest long ascent to home so I expect to be climbing it frequently over the next six months. I'll post a tally of my ascents at the end of the season so we can see how often I run there.

Views from the Swiss Jura

The trails I run on the most are in the area between Lake Geneva and up into the Swiss portion of the Jura Mountains. The climbs are not as steep as the Alps, but there are some good climbs and incredible views into the Jura and also back across the lake over the Alps. I love being up in the mountains and exploring the trails to find new view points. Here are some of my favorite pictures of the Alps and the canton of Vaud.

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Trail des Cabornis

Last weekend I ran my first race of the 2017 season: Trail des Cabornis. This is a well-organised race on the outskirts of Lyon through the fields and around Mont Verdun and Mont d'Or. It is one of the first trail races of the season so it's well attended and everyone is excited to be out racing on the trails.

My goals for the race included testing my training over the winter to compare to where I was at the same time last season, trying out a new nutrition plan I want to use in my longer races, and running conservatively through the first half to be able to finish strongly. I managed to achieve all three goals and I feel quite positive about the outing.

Compared to last year I ran a faster race. The route was slightly different so even though my time was 41 minutes faster than last year I think I ran about 15 minutes faster effectively. My nutrition plan of eating frequently and using only simple gels went well and didn't present any issues for this length race. Finally I managed (mostly!) to run conservatively in the first half, resulting in a consistent effort throughout the race without slowing towards the end. I may have been too conservative at the beginning because I recovered very quickly and felt good in training again this week.

It was tremendous fun to be racing again and I'm looking forward to my next race in a few weeks.

2017 race calendar

In 2017 I have scheduled a great set of races. In the last few years I've refined my racing and training to perform better in the mountains, but I still haven't quite raced as well as I think I'm capable of. This year I want to race to the limit of my abilities and to do that I've been more conscientious and careful in building a season plan that suits me.

There are a number of factors that are important for me which led to the season plan in its current form. The basis of deciding what races included the following principles:

  • I race best when I'm running in events that excite me and that I know I will be motivated and driven to complete a full training cycle for;
  • I prefer to race on routes that I know or where I can reduce the number of factors outside my control by careful study of the race profile and route;
  • I am able to adapt to heat (Jungle Ultra) or altitude (Atacama Crossing) but I need to perform a full and diligent adaptation protocol; and
  • I find traveling and new race venues add additional stress and without careful management that can affect how I race.

Using these principles I have prioritized races that are close to home, that particularly interest me, and which are well scheduled to provide time for any adaptation and specific training. I will be racing almost exclusively in France and Switzerland on race routes that I've run before and within an easy drive from home. Fortunately I live in trail running heaven with some of the biggest races, the best competition and the most scenic routes nearby.

2017 race calendar
This is my calendar of key races and includes all the races I've already entered and a few more at the end of the season that I will enter closer to the event. I may enter a few other smaller races for preparation and training, but these are the goal events and where I'm focusing my effort.

Trail des Cabornis
Details: 40km, 2000m D+
Date: 5 March 2017
Location: Chasselay, France
Previous result: 2016 - 4h26
Focus: My first race of the season in 2016. I want to go back as a test to see what state my fitness is and how effective my winter training has been.

Trail des Reculees
Details: 46km, 1800m D+
Date: 2 April 2017
Location: Lons-le-saunier, France
Previous result: 2016 - 4h13
Focus: This race is in a beautiful area in the Jura with some spectacular little villages that it runs through and amazing scenery (the Reculees). I'm excited to go and enjoy this region again.

Details: 51km, 2700m D+
Date: 30 April 2017
Location: Voglans, France
Entry: Yes
Previous results: 2016 - 5h44, 2015 - 5h56
Focus: This is a great early season race that's close to home and I have run it for the last two years. I want to run the race again to test my fitness and compare my results to previous years.

MaXi XL Race
Details: Day 1 - 42.5km, 2550m D+; Day 2 - 41.5km, 2780m D+
Date: 27 & 28 May 2017
Location: Annecy, France
Previous result: First time racing.
Focus: I love the area around Annecy and enjoyed some great running there with Moises before he ran the 85km MaXi race in 2016. This race is my first goal race of the season where I want to race all out and go for a top performance. It will be great to run a stage race again and I'm looking forward to having a great weekend of running in Annecy.

Mont Blanc Marathon
Details: 42km, 2730m D+
Date: 25 June 2017
Location: Chamonix, France
Previous result: First time racing.
Focus: This will be a test event for me and a chance to run hard and fast before the Eiger a few weeks later. Chamonix is an incredible place to run and I'm keen to run a new race there and to explore some new trails in the area.

Eiger Ultra E101
Details: 101km, 6700m D+
Date: 15 July 2017
Location: Grindelwald, Switzerland
Previous result: 2016 - 14h05
Focus: I ran this race last year and it was fantastic! This is definitely one of my favorite races so it's an easy choice to go back and to try and improve on last year's result. The is my second goal race of the season.

Details: 101km, 6100m D+
Date: 1 September 2017
Location: Courmayeur, Italy
Previous result: 2016 - DNF
Focus: The UTMB trail festival with all of its races is the pinnacle of trail running for me. I've been there to crew, been there to watch the races, and last year I started CCC. I know the trails well and I want to race the best competition and run the best I can at this event. The CCC is a great distance for me and I have some demons to concur after last year's DNF. This will be the third goal race race of the season.

Humani'Trail Les Diablerets
Details: 56km, 3600m D+
Date: 23 September 2017
Location: Les Diablerets, Switzerland
Entry: Not yet.
Previous results2015 - 7h13, 2014 - 7h52
Focus: Les Diablerets is a beautiful area and this was my first trail race in Switzerland so it has a lot of significance for me. I can run faster here and I want to!

Trail Vallee de Joux
Details: 35km, 1870m D+
Date: 8 October 2017
Location: L'Abbaye, Switzerland
Entry: Not yet.
Previous result: 2016 - 3h59
Focus: This race takes place on the trails that I train on all year round. It's my local race, it's over some beautiful trails, and it's low-key and fun.