I finished what I started! – Crêtes de Spa 2012

I’m back! And with tales of running this time.

After months of anticipation, last Saturday it was finally time for the “Crêtes de Spa” 53k trail run. Although preparations had been optimal (running 90k a week and 2 weeks before I had a team event in Saalbach where I managed to do 4 runs with some badass climbing involved), the last twee weeks had been far from that:

First of all, my achilles started giving me some pain about 10 days before D-day (which was, of course totally by coincidence, 3 days after my 4 mountain runs. Overstressed? Naaaaah…). I decided not to run until the day before the trail. The achilles was getting better, but around 5 days before the trail my back started hurting badly and basically got stuck in one position for the next 2 days. Luckily, both were gone by Thursday. So on Friday, I decided to do a half an hour run in order to test the legs and see if I was ready. By this time, I’d gotten a cold, so it went far from perfect. Things could have been better. A lot actually.

Anyway, the test went okay’ish, although far from perfect. And 5k is not quite the same as 53k. So it was with a small heart that I left for Brussels that morning around 5:15. The cold was still there, but I was just too stuborn to let that ruin the day. I picked up Greg And just over and continue direction Spa. The atmosphere in the car is calm. We miss Kristof a bit. But then again, maybe not, haha. I like it calm. There’s a slight bit of anticipational tension. The perfect conditions for a good day out.

We change next to the car, like runners do (Seriously, the dressing room was over 500!!! meter away. That’s just too far, haha) and walk towards the starting point. I panic and think I left my garmin in the trunk of the car. Greg panics when he realizes he left his garmin on top of the car. We pick up both of them, go get our number, I leave my brand new bottle of aquarius somewhere but find it back untouched… Everything runs smoothly…

After a bit of mocking the Japanese dude in front of us with his Nike Lunarglides (Just a bit over 4hours he’d be the one mocking us though, he won the race) and a thourough bilingual briefing (Thanks Caroline!), A shot rang, two bagpipers hastily started playing and the herd started moving, slowly, into the mist. We didn’t hurry much, knowing there’d be plenty of time to overtake or be overtaken, so we placed ourselves somewhere in the middle of the group.

After about 10k the first of two ski slopes showed herself. Because we had to defend the honour of our “Run to the Hills” team, we ran all the way to the top and dove into the first half of the participants. Shortly after that, we arrived at the first supply station, which turned out to be the first welcome surprise of the day: crisps, nuts, spiced biscuit, cola,… you name it, they had it! We pretty much had to force ourselves not to stick around too long.

The part between the first and second supply station went smoothly, no walking at all. As a reward, we were greeted by an oasis of food and drinks. We filled our reserves and carried on. And then the hard part came, with as a cherry on the cake, the heavy second ski slope after about 33k. I had a bit of a dip, Greg had a bit of a dip. We stuck together through both of them and at about km 40, we joined the folks that were doing the 21k run, which got us motivated again.

We decided to run straight past the last 2 supply posts since we still had some water left and pushed forward now. Things were better again and we were overtaking A LOT of people. 40+ km in the run, we were flying. We finished in just under 6 hours. During those 6 hours, we’ hardly seen any asphalt at all. A beautiflul and well-organized trail, no discussion there. We were rewarded with a nice medal (which we wore above our jacket, proud like a 10 year old) and a t-shirt with the winged slogan “I finished what I started”. Damn right we did!

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