When I started with stage racing I trained on a race-by-race basis refocusing on the specific demands and characteristics of each race in my preparations. This worked very well as the races were not limited to a summer season and I had some good success at the Atacama, KAEM and in the Jungle. In 2018 I'm planning to follow that approach where possible focusing on five key races and training towards each of those races through the year rather than trying to prepare for a summer season of races.
Transitioning from stage racing to mountain ultras has been a mixed bag of results. I love running in the mountains and I will continue to pursue that. The races that I have done best at are shorter (50-70km) races that are close to home and on familiar trails. Humani'Trail, Brevon and UTCT all went well and I was able to race hard at those distances. Based on that, I have chosen races that are not a "default" to the longest version available and for my two longest races I've chosen races that are close to home where I can learn the routes and become very familiar with their challenges.
In addition to what worked well before, I have also learned from a number of mistakes. I have struggled with races at altitude when I have not had time to acclimatise appropriately. Lavaredo and Eiger are races where I have made this mistake and unfortunately multiple times at each race. This year my races outside of the European summer start at sea level and I plan to go to altitude to prepare for the two big mountain ultras in the summer. Another area that I have not been very successful at is becoming a good climber and I am working to address in my training.
Given all those considerations, here is what my race calendar looks like:
24/02 - Transgrancanaria Advanced; 64km; 3200m
08/04 - Trails des Reculees; 46km; 1700m
28/04 - Madeira Island Ultra; 85km; 4700m
09/06 - Pierre a Voir; 34km; 2400m
07/07 - Trail Verbier St Bernard; 111km; 8400m
28/07 - Montreux MXAlp; 60km; 3900m
31/08 - CCC; 101km; 6100m
22/09 - Humani'Trail Les Diablerets; 54km; 3600m
01/12 - Ultra Trail Cape Town; 65km; 3100m
The races in bold are the top priority with the other races either for training or because I want to run them! The structure of the year is a few races early in the year at sea level - TGC and MIUT - then summer races in the Swiss Alps - TVSB and CCC - and finally a return to run in Cape Town at the end of the year.
I'm looking forward to all these races and I'm already deep in preparation for the first goal of the year!