Although nothing is certain in these viral days, the clock is ticking. 11 days left until showdown. Another One Bites the Dust has been cancelled a few days ago due to the current COVID-19 situation in Belgium. But as AOBtD is the last run in The Legends Slam (finish The Great Escape, Bello Gallico, Legends Trail 250/500 and AOBtD within one year) the RD decided to let those eligible for the Slam 2019/2020 run the race as a special AOBtD Slam edition. Instead of 100 participants the start field will be down to only 13 runners, the big barbecue and the big party (from what I heard) will probably be much smaller and we will need to respect the rules of the new normal.
As the The Great Escape 2019, Bello Gallico 2019 and the Legends Trail 250 2020 have been outstanding and unique experiences, the wish to also get the necessary 28 AOBtD loops for the slam is huge. The Great Escape 2019 was way steeper then I imagined, Bello Gallico 2019 was was darker than imagined plus a bit wet and Legends Trail 250 2020 was beyond in many categories but most of all was extremely long. To finish the circle AOBtD will most probably be a mental challenge with no distraction along the way. Loop after loop after loop…
Another One Bites the Dust is held in the now pretty popular last human standing format. There is one loop you need to run. You have 60 minutes to do so. Every hour starts a new loop. If you are not in the starting box at the beginning of each new loop (for whatever reason) you are out. The race continues as long as there are runners left in the race. If only one runner is left, this runner needs to complete one loop in one hour alone to win, or receives a DNF (as all other runners before) – in which case there will be no winner. Simple thing. The loop at AOBtD is described to be 5.959 km long (although participants of the last years editions claim that it is more like 6.2 to 6.3 km long). This means to cross the 100 mi barrier (which will give you the Slam finish) one needs to run 28 loops/hours. That will be fun. 13 runner with max. 1 person as support each for at least 28 h circling on a 5.959 km loop…
Stay tuned for updates close to race day. It will be a long journey. Again.
As the Bello Gallico can be easily divided in parts of 20k between the CPs or in two 80k parts – lets have a more detailed look on the running performance:
The 4 sections during the first half reflect quite nicely our feeling during the run: part no. 3 is the most difficult part in terms of technical parts as well as elevation gain. The second 4 sections – the second half – is the usual mess up of an ultra race. Longer pauses, weak periods, more walking: all that changes the performance.
Our total runtime was 27h52 but the above charts are only looking on the moving time which was 24h49. The average speed was 9m16/k which is 6.5 k/h.
The best parts lay all within the first part of the race:
The difference between the first and the second half is huge: 7:49 min/k during the first, 10:42 min/k during the second half:
This is clearly something to work on. But the conditions during this years Bello Gallico were probably not ideal to really judge on the second half performance. With more steady conditions this difference would probably not have been that huge, but still: an ultra race starts around km 90/100 and this is the part to focus on.
The times spend at the checkpoints increased during the race. Especially CP 120k and 140k (we even took a nap here) were significantly longer then they should have been for a good second half. Nice to see that it was possible to fasten up between 150k and 160k during the heavy rain and the cold. We slowed down again towards the end once we realized sub 28h was safe.
Hello darkness, my old friend I’ve come to talk with you again Because a vision softly creeping Left its seeds while I was sleeping And the vision that was planted in my brain Still remains Within the sound of silence In restless dreams I walked alone Narrow streets of cobblestone ‚Neath the halo of a street lamp I turned my collar to the cold and damp When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light That split the night And touched the sound of silence
S&G – The Sound of Silence
Once more an intensive weekend. Matthias joined me Friday after work and we took the car to the Start/Finish location in Oud-Heverlee. We planned differently to The Great Escape and spend the night in a Hostel in Leuven. Leuven seems to be a nice city but is a nightmare in terms of parking. After this interesting challenge we finally made it to our room and tried to ignore the noises in our quite active Hostel. Although we didn’t sleep much it gave us a break and some relaxed hours before the start. The alarm was set for 2:30 a.m. and we made it in time to be ready for the start on Saturday 4:00 a.m..
#2 of the Legends Trails – Bello Gallico 100 Miles. 100 miles in a rather flat terrain – at least compared to TGE. The job was this time: lets go there and finish this off. Everyone said this is the most easy run of the series, that it really is flat and runnable and it is furthermore meant as a Christmas Party.
Everyone is aware though, that this is only half of the truth. 2019 edition should bring lots of rain in the days before the event, light rain at the start, light rain from time to time in between and two disastrous rainy hours between 5 and 7 a.m. Sunday morning. But: its just a bit of water. Where is the problem? Well, it turned out that this was the type of track which really benefits from being watered and abused by hundreds of feet. Although there were still a lot runnable parts – the muddy parts were deep, sticky and/or slippery plus more and more covered with water – proper steps sometimes not possible. This slowly but surely drags all power from the body – power which could have been used for running.
Matthias and me discussed a few possible finish options before the race. One of it was below 24 h, the other maybe below 26 h if it would be more difficult than expected and as a last option: finish before the sun rises the second time! We finished the first half of the BG in 11 hours and with a some minutes of break and Chili con carne we realized that 24 h would not be possible. The dark second night was after all way more challenging than expected. The trail was even more difficult, leaving the warm and wonderful checkpoints felt more and more stupid and the heavy rain/storm between 5 and 7 a.m. was really frightening. Especially those hours in the early Sunday needed a lot of strength: water everywhere – the already damaged feet were not amused and during the rain it was horribly cold. We lost the focus on any time-related goal for a second but what I really like on racing with Matthias: he has the finish always in mind and is extremely focused on that. Giving up is never an option for him. It really helps to be with someone like this when yourself are suffering and in a miserable condition.
In that heavy rain and with approximately 12 k to the finish I suggested to run again a bit faster to feel less cold and finally get this nightmare done. This worked ok for a few k´s. With less then 5 k to go the rain finally stopped, we realised that could make it below 28 h and with this we would finish half an hour before the sun would rise again. Job done. #2 of the Legends Trail series completed. We finished in 27h51m as number 48 and 49 of 93 finishers and around 160 starters.
Thanks to the Orga and the countless of dedicated, helpful and friendly Legendary Friends as volunteers all over the course. Great checkpoints, great help, great food and lots of fun.
We had yet another great experience out there in the (this time) rather flat Belgium. It was tougher than expected but we came to finish this one and not to drop out because of whatever. Although the race was almost completely in the dark (at least it felt like this) there were beautiful moments with and without sun. The beauty of ultra running can be found in each and every run of 100 miles or more – just open your eyes at the right times.
Thats it for 2019. No more races left – the end of this years journeys is reached. Fingers crossed for a quick recovery: the next Legend Trail is already waiting. And this time it is the real one. With 250 k in the not-so-flat part of Belgium and three long February nights. Happy for any training advices! I will take it with M&M as a motto for the next two months:
It will be the end of an interesting year 2019: only 4 days and a few hours on this final countdown. What is announced as to be „just the best Christmas party“ will be a 100 Mile race in Belgium. And whatever they say: those are never easy.
It will be extremely dark with a dark start at 4 a.m. on Saturday, a few brighter hours and probably/hopefully a finish before the sun comes up the second time. Plus, if the weather forecast is not lying: it will be pretty wet too.
Good to know that I will be with M. again. We spend a nice time together during The Great Escape and learned how to survive while time is ticking.
One last effort to finish Ultra number 4 in 2019 and to finish run number 2 in the Legends Trails Grand Slam. Bring it on – stay tuned for the live-tracking link!