I'm excited that my race season for 2021 is about to start. It feels like a very long time since my last race. Unfortunately, the races I had planned in spring were cancelled so the season is starting later than I had hoped. The good news is that I was able to use the time I had over the winter and extended off-season to put in some solid training and set myself up for a strong season. You can read about my winter in some of my previous posts: general preparation 1, general preparation 2, and base training on the HRV4Training blog.
This year, the races I've chosen are all close to home which should remove some of the uncertainty around travelling and will also provide the opportunity to learn the race routes and train on them. I've selected some races that I've done before, as well as some new races to provide variety and a chance to see new places and learn some new trails. I've provided the details on each race below, along with my motivations and reasons for choosing each.
Swiss Canyon Trail - 5 June 202151km with 2470m
The Swiss Canyon Trail is in Neuchâtel in the Jura. The terrain is very similar to races that I've done at Vallée de Joux and in the LG Trail. In the last few weeks V and I have been hiking and running on the route and it is spectacular! The Creux de Van is beautiful, but we also loved the area around Môtiers with the waterful and green, lush forests. This race will be very fast because the route is particularly runnable with only one significant climb in the first half. It will be a perfect first race for the year as I spent a lot of time over the winter running on similar terrain and I don't quite have my mountain legs yet.
|The view from the Creux de Van on the Swiss Canyon route.|
RACE REPORT --> Swiss Canyon Trail
Pierre a Voir - 12 June
A bonus race included to work on some speed and confidence before Trail Verbier St Bernard.
RACE REPORT --> Pierre a Voir
Trail Verbier St Bernard - 3 July 202173km with 4900m
In 2018 one of my focus races was the 111km race at Trail Verbier St Bernard. I learnt the route and I was in good shape going into the race, but I fell on the descent from Catogne to Champex and had to withdraw as I injured my arm and needed stitches. I was bitterly disappointed because I didn't even make it a quarter of the way into the race and I was already finished before 6am in the morning. This year I'm looking forward to going back and finishing what I started. I feel like I'm a stronger athlete and ready to run a much better race and I'll definitely be wearing shoes with better grip this time. This route is in an area that I know well and it is a tough alpine race that will require the best of me.
|Heading down towards Bourg St Pierre on the Trail Verbier St Bernard route.|
RACE REPORT --> Trail Verbier St Bernard
Aigle-Leysin - 1 August 202121km with 1650m
I ran the Aigle-Leysin race in 2019 and had a great time. It was short, fast, and intense. I want to go back to try and improve on my time and because it's a fun race on Swiss National Day.
|Almost at the finish in the 2019 Aigle-Leysin race (race report).|
RACE REPORT --> Aigle-Leysin Trail
Swiss Alps 100 - 13 August 2021160km with 9850m
The Swiss Alps 100 is my biggest goal for 2021. It's a 100-mile race in the heart of the Swiss Alps with a lot of climbing. It's near the Aletsch glacier which is an amazing glacier that V and I have been to once before so we're both looking forward to spending long days exploring the route and the area over the summer. I want to test myself with a 100-mile race this year and this race looks perfect for that: the route is challenging, the race organisers have been welcoming and enthusiastic about the race, and the timing in the middle of August is ideal.
Le Défi de septembre - 5, 11, 26 September 2021
This series is composed of three races all up steep terrain in Valais:
- Ovronnaz-Rambert - 8.4km with 1350m
- La Grimpette de bedjuis - 6.3km with 960m
- Fully-Sorniot - 7,9km with 1600m
Last year I ran all three races in the Défi de septembre, but I didn't actually qualify for the series because I chose to run the longer Trail des Cabanes race at the Fully-Sorniot event rather than the short, climbing-only race. This year I'd like to do all three races and work towards a result in the series. These races are much shorter, more intense, and faster than I'm used to so they will be a great challenge and a good chance to develop new abilities and improve my climbing speed.
ChaChaCha Trail - 11 September82km with 5900m
Le Chable, Switzerland
After my disappointing race at Swiss Alps 100 I decided to focus on another ultramarathon in September to make the most of my fitness and to enjoy one of the last summer races for 2021. Instead of doing Le Défi de septembre I'm focusing on one ultramarathon race.
The ChaChaCha trail is a in an area I know well with parts of the route on both the Trail Verbier St Bernard and CCC routes. I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do and executing the best race that I can - a specific goal after the challenges I've had so far in the season.
Trail Vallée de Joux - 10 October36km with 1840m
Le Sentier, Switzerland
I've had some mixed results at Trail Vallée de Joux including a 3rd place in 2015, an average race in 2016, and a DNF last year. Despite that mixed bag of outcomes I love this race and this area. I can't wait to go back in autumn this year and set the record straight with a good result.
|An unhappy ending to the 2020 race - time to set it right (race report).|
MaXi Race Marathon - 30 October 202139km with 3050m
The MaXi Race was supposed to be one of my first races of the season, but it was postponed until October. The new timing works well and it will be a fun way to end the season. I'm excited about the format of the race as the organizers have set it up in a way that is designed to make the course fair for everyone without favoring locals or athletes who have had time to do reconnaissance on the route. The start and finish are set points and the route will be marked on race day, but there is no other information shared with the runners beforehand. Everyone will be experiencing the route for the first time on the race day. It should be fun!
|Racing in 2017 MaXi Race XL (race report).|