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Showing posts from 2018

Marysville 50 km, 11/11/18

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I had a great run at the Marysville 50 km race. I always enjoy this one, despite the ferocious hills, but I was not expecting to do a PB on the course this weekend. Especially after having done the very hilly Carcoar Cup Marathon the previous weekend, where I felt good and thought I was running strongly right up to the end, only to find that I ran this one slower than last time in 2014. There were lots of similarities between the two races: lovely scenery, smallish field, enthusiastic aid stations and not much flat ground. The hills in Marysville are far steeper, and the trails are rougher.
My day in Marysville didn’t start out the best when I got to the first aid station and realised I was supposed to bring a cup with me. I have several collapsible cups but they were all at home. For the first two aid stations I was able to use a real cup that the aid stations had available for idiots who arrived without a cup. Between aid stations I scoured the roadsides for discarded bottles but saw…

100 kilometres de Millau, Sept 29, France

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I have happy memories now from a day which I initially thought I was going to look back on as unremittingly horrible. I started out feeling awful, really lethargic, and ended up feeling pretty good, actually quite surprised at how well I could run after having been running for so many hours. It was a very warm day but even that didn’t spoil things for me, although my day really picked up when the sun went down.
There were some rather unusual aspects to this race, the most obvious one being that runners were allowed to be accompanied by a supporter on a bicycle for the final 93 kilometres of the route. I was very alarmed when I first heard this because I thought that so many bikes on the course would be a nuisance, but even though it seemed that most runners had a bike rider with them the bikes were rarely an issue. Having the bikes around meant that, as the field spread out, even when I couldn't see other runners I could generally see a bike so I didn’t feel so alone, and all those…

Marathon Touraine Loire Valley, September 23

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It was wet and windy for my marathon today, quite a change from the hot weather I’ve had almost all summer in Europe. The Marathon Touraine Loire Valley (yes, English spelling) sounded like a pretty race going through little villages and along the Loire river, starting in the centre of Tours. I found it quite humid at first and I worried about that, and also the road seemed slippery in the wet.
The route took us along small roads and bike tracks (Loire à vélo) through farmland (that means cornfields and other vegetables) - I recall a huge field of bright green spinach leaves - and some light forest. We ran alongside a small river for a while. The highlight at 19 km was running through the grounds of Chateau Villandry, a pretty castle in pretty grounds, although the path was very slippery. Next door to the castle was a nice looking Romanesque church. A lot of the route wasn’t all that exciting, a bit like running the Traralgon Marathon with a castle thrown in and the supporters calling …

Tour of Mont Blanc

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This alpine hike was the focus of my whole trip and it did not disappoint. Eight days of unparalleled hiking enjoyment over about 175 kilometres in three countries around the perimeter of the Mont Blanc massif. I had, for the most part, perfect weather and the feast of glorious views will be hard to put into words. Almost every day I was able to indulge my love of hiking uphill with climbs of 800 to 1300 vertical metres. The descents always felt longer to me, though. My fears about travelling too light and having made my days ambitiously long came to nothing and I feel that there is little I could have changed for the better. The only items in my pack that I never got to use were my rain pants and my earplugs, and that has to be an indication of a good time.
Sunday 2 September A longish climb out of Courmayeur (1226m) in forest with a few openings to look back down on the town. And then I was above the tree line with mountains all along the horizon. I knew then and there that this hike …

Running (for a change)

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Roman arch, Aosta
Ok, so I’ve been doing a lot of hiking recently but I have also done a bit of running. Not much, but just enough so I don’t feel I’m forgetting how to do it. Or how nice it feels. 
This morning I went for a run along the river in Aosta (Italy). Flat, lots of oxygen available, no chance to get lost. So it wasn’t the most exciting run but I got to shake my legs out a little and the distance was marked out on the path so I knew how much I was doing. The river was fast flowing with lots of ripples of white water and bushy along the banks. I was running on a bike path and on the opposite bank was the highway. Beyond my path we’re playing fields, a rather dismal looking caravan park and some industrial stuff. But beyond those not so special things were the mountains. It was a bit cloudy so the tops were hidden, but I could see lots of small villages, churches and even small castles. I think Mont Blanc is close but I couldn’t see it. All up I did just over ten kilometres.
In …

Alta Via 1 (part of) hike, Italy

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Another wonderful hike, with unexpectedly spectacular scenery. I’d seen pictures but nothing prepares you for the real thing. It was such a contrast here on Alta Via 1, in the Dolomiti Bellunesi of northeastern Italy, to last week in Austria, in part because of the paleness of the limestone rock, the unusual shapes of the mountain peaks and the closed in feel as I hiked high above the tiny valleys. There weren’t the expanses of tussocky hillsides and the jangling cows/sheep, and there weren’t the frequent gushing creeks. The atmosphere was of great quietness and the weather was perfect. In this I was rather fortunate because during my two days break in Lienz and travelling to Belluno it had snowed heavily in the Dolomites and some of the Alta Via 1 was impassable.
Monday August 27 I took the bus from Belluno to the walk start at an isolated bus stop called La Pissa. Actually this is the walk finish, as I was hiking in the opposite direction to the way the route is described, but this su…