Crêtes de Spa

After some heavy runs in Austria, I was all ready for my first trail since, well, a long time. Of course, there’d been some long distance runs in the past few months, but nothing official like this one: Crêtes de Spa. 2 years ago introduced as the heaviest thing to run in Belgium and, well, I’m quite sure that’s not too far from the truth. With its 2 ski slopes, the fact that those slopes might be the steepest but definitely not the longest obstacles to conquer, and the total of over 2000m of positive altitude packed in just 55k… well, it’s a solid journey. But I was totally ready for this!

Greg, however, was a bit less confident. And as tradition wants it (well, this was the second time, so it’s just become a tradition now, has it?), this time also, we decided to stick together and finish this like a bunch of siamese twin brothers. All signs pointed towards a warm, sunny day, so we dressed lightly and headed for the starting line. A bagpiper started playing, a countdown began… and off we were!

Starting relaxed and then see what’s left near the end. That’s how Greg usually rolls. And so we started off relatively relax, knowing we would be able to use all the energy we spared now later on. Some asphalt and bigger forest trails in the beginning, it was all relatively easy runable in the beginning. At least for me it was. Around 9k, Greg started developing some pain in the knee. Bad news. We pushed on and arrived at the first slope. I said my “see you in a minute”‘s and rushed upwards. All was well on my end. At the top, I took the time to take some pictures and encourage other runners. We regrouped and went onwards.

The story would repeat itself after that. Which meant that I was never in real trouble and my gauges never went into the red zone. Which was quite alright in fact. Every now and then I’d charge a climb at a good speed or storm down a meandering decent to keep my legs awake. This was fun!

Greg was not having such a great time though, which made him just a bit grumpy. But being held back by something as annoying as a sore knee… that sucks. I should know: I walked over 30k of Olne-Spa-Olne 68k due to a sore knee. It sucks. Big time. So I stuck around in support. It’s not like I was there to win prizes here anyway (on hindsight, my optimistic estimation of 5h30 would get me just inside the top 20, a long way from the 4h22 of winner Huub van Noorden), so might as well stick around and enjoy a buddy-run. Besides, there was still much to enjoy:  The environment was beautiful. The supply stations splendid – Meli honey waffles (people at Meli, please sponsor me!) – and the company, as always, a treat!

So we kept on going, me pushing Greg to run as much as possible (it’s just so hard to start running again after walking up a steep ascent!) and after just over 7h, we reached the finish, tired but happy. The duration of the whole thing had started to wear me down a bit as well and even though I could still run the last few climbs, I was happy it was all over.

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