Trailrunning: Ultra Trail Serra de Tramuntana Mallorca // Race Report
I started running in February 2010 and never run a typical marathon distance except a half marathon (21km) after 2 months of training. Then I found out, that running in the woods and mountains is so much more enjoyable and fun than on paved roads. In 2010 I hiked 8 days from Port d´Andratx to Pollenca. On April 28th 2012 I ran the distance of 107km with a positive 4500m gain in elevation in 18h:46min. Both where great but different experiences.
It is 23:58. I am one out of 500 runners who are waiting lined up at the start area for the clock to jump on 00:00.
They start to play “Carmina Burana”. I know something great is going to happen. I focus on my breath, click on my headlamp, the two minutes are over and the field rolls out of the village of Port d´Andratx. I try to make my strides as small and low as possible, to keep the impact on my body low. The paved road comes to an end, I follow the pack into a small dirt road. The lights around me are so bright that I switch mine completely off. I found a group of 3 who are about my pace. I know that I should not get out of breath in the first hours during the race. The road is going steeper and steeper. One of the group is slowing down. I dont understand what he was saying because it was spanish but I think he told his friends to slow down aswell because this is going to be a long race. So did I. We started to climb while turning into walking. I notice hundrets of lights around me, red blinking back lights and the beams of strong white headlamps winding up the mountain. A strong feeling surroundet me, I knew it was right to face this challange. I arrived at the top of the hill, eager to make some good effort on the downhill. The first two hours went by and I was not far away from the first aid station. There was some paved road into the village of Estellences. The guys at the checkpoint wrote down our bib numbers and showed the way into the garage which was the aid station. It was hot and humid in there. I took of my pack, refilled my bladder, had two cups of coke, half an orange and took a banana out for the upcomming section. Other runners where sitting around and taping their feet or stretching out. I was just feeling to continue as fast as possible. The field stretched out more and more and there was no one around anymore. The trail climbed and went down again, with flat stretches inbetween. The hours went by I was very confident with running through the dark from one checkpoint to the other. It was allready more than 5 hours in when I reached the town of Valdemossa. The day began to brake in, this was the first time I could recognize the scenery I allready hiked through a few years ago. I knew, up the next mountain there will be a beautiful ridge waiting and I will arrive on top just right at sunrise. I talked to some french runners on the uphill. The only people I talked to during the race. They where joking around and saying something like “this race starts at Kilometer 70” which I believed in but I did not care because all I wanted is to cross that finish line. So I arrived at that ridge hiking fast the switchbacks up before. I spoted the long shadows of other runners stretching over the pale gray bolder fields above tree level. To the left there was just the see below a 300 meter vertical cliff drop. I knew I am not far away from the 55k mark and the halfwaypoint of the trail. There was a big downhill waiting into the village of Deja. The trail got really steep and technical winding down the mountain into beautiful olive groves and through overgrown areas covered with long blades of grass. At the checkpoint in Deja I sat down for the first time. I brought some spare socks and now over halfway the time has come to change them. The once I whore where completely soaked. I refueled by eating some big blocks of cheese and white bread. Took some oranges and bananas and off I went again. The heat of the day arrived, I was happy about some cooling winds on the exposed areas. On the way to Soller a really fast runner overtook me at the downhill. I thought going downhill at these speeds after 60km requires some serious skills. Later I found out that it was the leader of the shorter competition which started at 8am in Valdemossa.He has serious skills. I arrived in Soller during midday. It was really hot. At the aid station I just took some fruits and refilled my bladder. I could not eat the meals the had there because my appetite for cooked food was just not there. There was this big climb waiting up the canyon towards Cuber Basin. I went really slow but steady up the trail which was combinded with large stairs. More runners from the shorter distance overtook me. I ate the food I carried from the beginning on my way up. Such as Energygels, Bars and PB ride shots. I brought way too much food but I did not want to leave it behind. Up the canyon my feet where really heavy. I had to force myself into running again. Mentally I felt still very good. I knew I could do it. I was just tired and slightly dizzy from the heat. At the last Aid station in Lluc I opened that Gatorade Strip I brought last year from the States. Mixed it with cold wather and enjoyed the taste. From Lluc there where just 17km left to the finish. I knew I could do those in about 2 hours reaching the finish under my personal goal of 20 hours. The last downhill really took forever. My legs where tired and I had to be really focused not to stumble over these rocks and roots. The last 7km where flat paved road combined with some trail just a little below the road. Cars where blowing their horns from time to time cheering us. High fives where given from other runners. I just wanted to get it done. My legs felt good on the easy trail and I just ran as fast as I could these last kilometers and across that finish line. After 18h:46min I finished in 119th position out of about 300 finishers. On the next day my legs felt good and I could not wait to enter the breakfast buffet at the hotel.
My strategy to finish:
-Something I learned from long distance hiking. Split the course into small chunks. In that case running from one aid station to the other.
-Taking just small rests
Since September 2011 I never run further than 25km. I was never going further than 80km a week. More like 40-60km.
On all my trainig runns I gained 600 or more meters of elevation up and downhill.
Nathan HPL 020 Backpack + 2xMLD Hipbelt Pockets
Petzl MYO RXP Headlamp
Red backlight (road bike)
Oakley Jawbone Glases
Haglöfs Tempo SS T-Shirt
Black Diamond Gloves
Falke RU4 Socks (carried 2 pairs, changed after 55k)
Dirty Girl Gaiters
Brooks Cascadia 6
Black Diamond Z-Pole Ultra Distance
Anti Friction Stick