Just after Lavaredo ultra trail DNF I decided that I had to do another race before I left France, it will be my little “revenge” against the tough day I had in the Italian Dolomites. Even if I only had 2 weeks to recover after the 95km, I feel confident enough to take the start of a 4-6hr race. I found on internet a race in the area, the Trail of the French Riviera (Crotrail). Nice name for this 40km run with 2200m elevation gain and 2700m elevation loss.
The course is not so different from Lavaredo ultra in its style, except for the altitude factor, Trail de la Riviera is held in Low altitude. The course offers runnable sections (first 16km) and very rocky steep trails in the second half. I am excited as the course starts in Breil-sur-Roya, a cute village surrounded by steep mountains, and finishes on the beach of Menton.
As recovery/training I started running 4 days after Lavaredo ultra and did two harder sessions on the week-end to test my shape. For sure I will not be at my best, anyway the goal is to have a good time and enjoy a new course.
Its race day, I can enjoy a sleep in as the start is at 6pm, It is probably a good idea as there is a heat wave in France (it is 34C°). My parents are here to be my support crew in Sospel aid station (km16), we arrive early and see runners from the 80km finish in Breil, it is always nice to give an applaud as they cross the finish line. At 6pm start is launched, after only 30m we attack a first short brutal climb, my legs feel good and I am in the top10 runners. I try to stay relaxed and focused on using as less energy as possible. After 5km we hit the first long hill and my mood is good, I am happy to be running and my legs are great. Without accelerating I end the hill in third position and decide to keep a good pace until the next 7km leading to the 16km mark aid station. In Sospel I meet my parents and I am still feeling great, I fill up my bottles, take a sip of coke and start the 10km climb to the highest point of the race. My legs are strong so I keep a steady pace not to blow up later in the race, unfortunately after a third of the climb I start feeling sick and have to take many stops loosing precious minutes, I maybe fooled myself thinking I have recovered properly, anyway there is no turning back, I will finish this race. Reaching the top of this climb is a huge struggle, I feel dizzy and can’t trust my balance. This hill seems endless, I manage to reach the aid station at km29 where I am told I am now 10th. I only have a km of climbing left and then It will be a 10km plunge towards the sea, If I have something left I have to give it all. Just before the downhill I put my headlamp as it is getting dark, the downhill is very steep a slippery, a real leg breaker. I keep on pushing and soon overtake a first person that is cramping. A few kilometres later I stop to help a second person that missed a sharp corner and he is stuck in the bush 2m under the trail, this downhill will does not forgive any mistakes. The last 2km are beautiful, in the heart of Menton medieval city, little stone stairs and sharp turns, I am going full on. I am now on the sea side and I finally get to cross the finishing lane.
Ranked 8th, 4th senior in 4:51:44, I am happy of the result.
Two days left to enjoy south of France and then it is time to get on my 35h trip back to Townsville!