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UTMB/CCC Trail races

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Following on from FP's comment in the training today post, anyone done UTMB or the other races associated with it like the CCC on here?  Been looking at these for a while - being naive as to how hard it must be is probably part of the ongoing interest.  Did wonder if its a case of being a sprint triathlete having done nothing longer than 500/20/5 deciding to enter IM🙄.  So any comments/advice? Do have some experience from Celtman (2000m climbing/descending mostly offroad) and Norseman (1800m of climbing but mainly on-road) so not a complete newbie.

Have 2x50km trail races coming up but looking at the 100k Alpine challenge in Vic in Nov which gives 4pts so would need to do another one of them to get the 8pts required.

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The good thing about UTMB or similar is the qualifying events must give you an idea of what is involved, i.e. you can't front up and race without planning at least 18 months in advance.

From people I've spoken to, the majority of UTMB isn't actually runable unless you're FOP.

Also interestingly the good trail athletes measure their training week in vert metres rather than in total km.

Good luck - I'd love to do a euro ultra one day. My brother did an Italian 125km from Bologna to Florence last weekend, 125km with 4500 vert.

 

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I’m glad this has sparked some interest, I’m a bit lost as to what I’m doing haha. I’m aiming for CCC which is the mid range distance. The full monty UTMB seems unfathomoable to me.

The things I’ve learned so far ( not saying they are accurate):

Time on your feet seems more importance than pace or distance covered.

You have to be completely at one with your gear, reaching into vest pockets whilst on the move etc.

Traill descending is a definite skill that has to be practiced.

There will be huge single track bottle necks at multiple points and you may have to change pace to keep up, or be forced to slow down. There is little than can be done.

IM athletes might not have the ultra running experience but are used to moving forwards for in excess of 12 hrs. The mental edge is a big help regarding this.

The UTMB points system sucks. You may take 3yrs to get drawn but your qualy points only last for two. Boo

Mandatory kit for 2.5 waterproof jackets and trousers can push the costs up.

you will poop in the woods at some point.:lol:

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Agree, time on your feet is key & if you think you'll be walking, include walking in your training so you can be smooth & efficient & know its part of the race strategy when you do walk. 

Mandatory gear can be expensive but you'll have it for all the other races you can do. You probably need to buy a fold up trowel as well 🙄

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Interesting also that the points system to qualify for these races is based simply on completion within the maximum allowed time which, assuming nothing has gone wrong and you're reasonably well prepared, seems doable.  In that sense they're a bit like the extreme triathlon series that's now come together - no qualifying but just a lottery to get in so the field on the day is much more mixed in terms of capability than, for example, Kona would be.

Luckily i have all the gear already with Celtman being extremely strict on the survival gear that needed to be carried by both the competitor and their support runner.  Biggest change to the way I've approached trail runs this year is to learn that walking/hiking up the steep/long climbs is ok whereas I'd always thought it was a failure not to run it in the past. That has seen my overall pace materially quicken up across the whole run.

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Yeah all good points you make there Truck.  I know in ultra circles there have been muttering about some of the ‘easy’ qualification races. I’m pretty sure the ones I’m doing are amongst these. I think Race to the King has less than 4,000 vert, which isn’t much compared to CCC.

The more I read about UTMB the more it seems to be mirroring where triathlon vs Ironman headed. There are trail runners that actively avoid UTMB because of the commercial circus it has become. I think the rival brand is Skyrunner or whatever it’s called.  Some of these Euro ultras are incredibly hard to get into.

I make no illusions about the races I’ve chosen. They are commercialised over catered, well signed and very well supported events. They are expensive and not well received by the trail purists.

However, at my age (54) it will be my one shot at UTMB points and given my lack of experience in trail racing ( except for falling over!) I’m taking the easy option all day long for my first adventures. I figure if I don’t like the easy ones, I sure as shit won’t like hard ones. :lol:

Edited by FatPom
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On 20/04/2019 at 2:29 PM, truck said:

Biggest change to the way I've approached trail runs this year is to learn that walking/hiking up the steep/long climbs is ok whereas I'd always thought it was a failure not to run it in the past. That has seen my overall pace materially quicken up across the whole run.

I feel this is one area where there is more self awareness in Ultras or that it's more acceptable.

The natural instinct of a triathlon/shorter running event spectator/competitor when they see someone walking is to try to get them to run.

In an ultra scenario there seems to be more understanding that there are many ways to crack an egg and walking is a perfectly acceptable and often preferable method.

There's less judgement on how you get from A to B.

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UTMB is the same weekend as Worlds in Lausanne. Just around the lake. Race finishes on the Sunday.  I'll be in Chamonix on the Tuesday.  Bugger. 

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CCC looks good.... . Btw, how easy is it training for just one sport???  Run focused for the next few months with a couple of easy weekly rides thrown in.  I have so much time on my hands and no longer start each run with quad aches for the first couple of k's 😂

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1 hour ago, truck said:

CCC looks good.... . Btw, how easy is it training for just one sport???  Run focused for the next few months with a couple of easy weekly rides thrown in.  I have so much time on my hands and no longer start each run with quad aches for the first couple of k's 😂

It's easier in time but I've found the drop in my FTP depressing.

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22 hours ago, FatPom said:

It's easier in time but I've found the drop in my FTP depressing.

It's a dilemma I'd agree.  I've done some solid kms on the bike this year building to Cairns and was comfortable holding 190w for 5 1/2 hrs there so really don't want that to disappear.  However, I know it's way easier to get swim fit than bike fit than run fit so will prioritise running and recovery but will hang onto the bike stuff as much as I can.  As for swimming?  Have already canceled my membership😂

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On 19/04/2019 at 7:54 PM, FatPom said:

Traill descending is a definite skill that has to be practiced.

And it's way more than just practicing skill and technique. It's also about building that resilience into the body, particularly the quads and core. 

Long, steep, rough, technical descents knock the body around.

There's no real substitute for lots of k's of downhill training and racing, particularly on tired legs.

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On 19/04/2019 at 7:54 PM, FatPom said:

IM athletes might not have the ultra running experience but are used to moving forwards for in excess of 12 hrs. The mental edge is a big help regarding this.

I've also seen the "confidence" (arrogance?) born of IM being the undoing of many newbie ultra runners.

Ultra running can be such a different beast. From nutrition, pacing, duration, elevation, steepness of hills and descents, technical trails.......... or the independence required when the next aid station is 5 hours away and it's already past midnight when IM would have cheered in its last finisher, and there's nothing but you, your headlamp, the trail and it's a cold rainy night, alone in the bush.

Many triathletes with no ultra experience have asked me about running C2K over the years, proudly saying they've finished IM with an obvious inference that if they can do IM, they're capable of anything. I tell them to run a 100km ultra and a 100 miler over winter, then apply for entry in September. A few may run a 100 km, poorly, then never surface in other ultra results. Most don't even do that.

I do love the expression on the face or the silence on the phone when I say, "Remember how you felt nearing the finish of IM? Just imagine running for another 24 hours on top of that." :devil2:

 

Edited by Paul Every

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56 minutes ago, Paul Every said:

I've also seen the "confidence" (arrogance?) born of IM being the undoing of many newbie ultra runners.

Ultra running can be such a different beast. From nutrition, pacing, duration, elevation, steepness of hills and descents, technical trails.......... or the independence required when the next aid station is 5 hours away and it's already past midnight when IM would have cheered in its last finisher, and there's nothing but you, your headlamp, the trail and it's a cold rainy night, alone in the bush.

Many triathletes with no ultra experience have asked me about running C2K over the years, proudly saying they've finished IM with an obvious inference that if they can do IM, they're capable of anything. I tell them to run a 100km ultra and a 100 miler over winter, then apply for entry in September. A few may run a 100 km, poorly, then never surface in other ultra results. Most don't even do that.

I do love the expression on the face or the silence on the phone when I say, "Remember how you felt nearing the finish of IM? Just imagine running for another 24 hours on top of that." :devil2:

 

It wasn't my intention to come across as arrogant, far from it,  I'm in awe of what ultra runners can achieve. However, I did gain some confidence in at least knowing that I have some experience of dealing with a long day and adversity.

My ultra last week was 13h49m of mental and physical challenges but it got done and now I'm planning to tackle my first 100km in 2 wks time.

I do know this isn't 'proper' trail ultra marathon running but I'm using the 'easy' races to build confidence, knowledge and experience to be more prepared if I do hit the Alps.

You are right though, it's effin hard!

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12 hours ago, FatPom said:

It wasn't my intention to come across as arrogant, far from it,  I'm in awe of what ultra runners can achieve. However, I did gain some confidence in at least knowing that I have some experience of dealing with a long day and adversity.

My ultra last week was 13h49m of mental and physical challenges but it got done and now I'm planning to tackle my first 100km in 2 wks time.

I do know this isn't 'proper' trail ultra marathon running but I'm using the 'easy' races to build confidence, knowledge and experience to be more prepared if I do hit the Alps.

You are right though, it's effin hard!

When I first started doing IMs it was all about complete, then compete then eventually race.  THe way I'm looking at ultras is much the same - at the moment I'm in the 'complete' stage and learning as I go along.  Paul - I'd argue most ultra runners would struggle to come into IM with just a running background and do well at first.  Not sure too many of them have done 180k on the bike before their long run - two very different sports linked by endurance.

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20 hours ago, FatPom said:

It wasn't my intention to come across as arrogant, far from it,  I'm in awe of what ultra runners can achieve. However, I did gain some confidence in at least knowing that I have some experience of dealing with a long day and adversity.

My ultra last week was 13h49m of mental and physical challenges but it got done and now I'm planning to tackle my first 100km in 2 wks time.

I do know this isn't 'proper' trail ultra marathon running but I'm using the 'easy' races to build confidence, knowledge and experience to be more prepared if I do hit the Alps.

You are right though, it's effin hard!

Sorry, FP, I wasn't for a moment suggesting any arrogance on your part.

Any prior endurance experience (including IM) is a bonus at the sticky end of any long event, whether that be an ultra or anything else. 

 

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7 hours ago, truck said:

When I first started doing IMs it was all about complete, then compete then eventually race.  THe way I'm looking at ultras is much the same - at the moment I'm in the 'complete' stage and learning as I go along.  Paul - I'd argue most ultra runners would struggle to come into IM with just a running background and do well at first.  Not sure too many of them have done 180k on the bike before their long run - two very different sports linked by endurance.

Agreed, whether it's going long in tri or any of it's component sports, it's all a learning process.

Definitely need some swim and bike background to do well at tri at any distance, though for someone coming from ultras, they usually don't need very much swim and cycle training get off the bike and trot through the run relatively comfortably to simply finish IM.

However, when it comes to triathletes going the other way to longer ultras, I've seen a few overplay their hand with expectations of tri fitness seeing them through. I've seen a few ultra aspirants DNS or DNF over the years.

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