Author Topic: Transalpine Race (2018) - lockdown version!  (Read 123 times)


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Transalpine Race (2018) - lockdown version!
« on: 15:45:46, 11/01/21 »
Not wanting to go outside even to exercise during the current lockdown, I decided to tackle the 2018 Transalpine Race - virtually on our treadmill / incline trainer. I successfully completed the event this morning.  :)

This was an iFit programme comprising 33 workouts of around 35 minutes each and I averaged two consecutive sessions per day. I was accompanied by a professional ultra-runner named Lucy Bartholomew (plus a couple of camerapeople who remained always out of sight) who shared her experience and gave useful tips, but who was generally very pleasantly laid-back and natural. It's very difficult to take a photo while on the treadmill, but the photo below isn't too bad and shows Lucy (who's sponsored by Salomon!) just ahead of me as we join a queue on a single-lane track as we head up the mountainside on the first leg of a stage...

I should mention that Lucy wasn't competing in the race, which was actually for 300 pairs. However, she was certainly of the required standard!

The real event took place over 7 days. It started in Germany, passed through Austria, and ended in Italy - 150+ miles and 53,000ft of ascent. The iFit treadmill version was a sort of taster, and covered a distance of 71+ miles with 14,300ft of ascent (actual treadmill figures) where the incline often reached 40%. Most of the daily stages were in 4/5 parts - the start from an alpine village or town, the finishing line for the stage, and some sections of the day's race, which might be across snow fields, through forests, or over rocky terrain bordered by terrifying sheer drops! The 35 minute (or so) sections were very varied, with some involving 1200ft hikes up mountainsides and others being 3 mile-long downhill runs, but more often than not they were a mixture of steep ascents and descents!

I learned a great deal about ultra-running during the 17-or-so hours I spent in the virtual Alps. Most important (for me) was the confirmation that events of this kind involve both walking (hiking) and running - and to a fairly evenly-balanced degree at that (certainly in terms of time spent, if not in distance covered). Participants don't walk in order to have a break or to recover from running, but because walking is often more efficient and sometimes safer than running; indeed, the recovery periods tend to come while running down long easy descents. I also learned that the great majority of competitors use poles, but I remain unconvinced that they would suit me. Lucy Bartholomew didn't use them at all and seemed to cope equally well with steep ascents, possibly slightly better on scrambles, and probably a fair bit better when running (but that's from my virtual and very much a beginner's perspective!).

I can't wait to get out and do some more trail runs (with integrated walking!), but in the meantime I'll keep practising in the conservatory!  ;)

(If anyone's interested in knowing more about the real 2018 Transalpine Race, there's an excellent 5 minute video for you... HERE!)