Walking out of the front door into a thick fog and welcomed by the sight of the frozen-over windshield of my car, I immediately knew what to expect from Trail des Bosses. Or at least I thought I knew. But let’s not fast-forward and begin where it all started: at a local community room in Braine-le-Comte, just over an hour away by car. So I freed my windows and got in the car and headed for the start.
Once there, my expectations were met when I drove into the city centre and saw people sliding their way through the streets. Good thing we weren’t going to see a lot of asphalt during our run. You didn’t need a 6th sense to realise that would have resulted in broken legs all over the place. Anyway, I met up with Nonkel, tightened my shoes, prepped my camelback and headed for the start and at about 9.05, we were on our way!
I tried to fall into my natural pace and found myself in the first group of 8 which quickly fell further apart into smaller groups. I decided to stay in the last one which occupied positions 4 to 8. Things went splendid and the roads were perfect. Hard, sometimes a bit slippery, but the sights of snowed under landscapes were amazing. The sun had appeared minutes before the start and brought some warmth in the open areas. Just perfect. I enjoyed the environment and the company, and even the climbs went pretty well. On top of all that, one of the guys in the groupetto turned out to be the one that came up with the idea to make the middle part of the 65k run an orientation run without indications, so I was in good company for that part. I stuck with him and at the 25k we arrived at the inclined plan of Ronquières, always an impressive sight, but all the more now we were actually running on it. We were handed the maps and a card to collect the 9 stamps that were at the checkpoints along the way and ran on.
It was quite clear that my company knew their way around the place and I followed them blindly. We’d easily found the first 5 checkpoints and caught up with the 2nd and 3rd guy in race when I started feeling a bit low on energy and decided to stop for food. Once moving again, I tried to keep the group within sight, but suddenly lost them. I found the 6th checkpoint, but then things went bad. I lost the tracks from the others and since I hadn’t even given my map a first look, I had no idea where I was. I paced around a bit, looking for tracks from other runners, but it was 10 minutes before I ran into another group. I tagged along with them from there on, but I’d gotten cold and my legs apparently thought that a stop of 10 minutes meant they were going to get the rest of the day off. The last 35k then were a struggle. I walked larger bits, meanwhile trying to keep some pace at least. Finally, I reached the next checkpoint and stopped for a while to regain strength. I took some chocolate and chips and headed on.
Shortly after that, we joined the people running the 45k which, by that time, I regretted not having picked over the 65k. But regret always comes late and I was going to finish this thing, no matter how. I started running more again and FINALLY reached the finish line after 7h32 minutes, 67.300k on my Garmin instead of the 65 I was supposed to have. In the ranking, I’m 17th out of 49. Not exactly amazing.
Lessons learned? Well, in case of orientation runs, keep track on your map, even if you’re just tagging along. Storing some food in my pockets, within reach, might be a good idea as well. And doing more than about 50k a week in preparation of a 65k trail… yep, that might help as well, haha.
All in, I’m not really satisfied. I wanted to do this in under 7h and I failed terribly. Of course I’m happy that I finished it, but the way I did it is a bit disappointing. I wasn’t really able to enjoy the second half. But given my rather minimal preparations, I guess I got what I deserved and nothing more.
On to the next one! 50k in the Flemish Ardennes. Sounds promising! Let’s hit the road!