Photo: Andrea Poletti
A long day in the heat in the hills of Umbria!
After breaking a rib at the end of April and then not being able to train for the following month, my form and fitness was fairly unknown heading into this race. I'd had about 3 weeks of training in the legs but it was fairly light and only one run over 20kms.
The Pale Ultra Trail covers 54km and 3200m of elevation, on a fairly technical course with steep, rocky downhills on the back half of the course. A very "Umbrian" race with the start and finish in Foligno.
The start got underway early at 730am and the first 15km was uphill to the top of Monte Santo Stefano. I started off fairly steady and managed to get a small lead of a couple minutes by the top. Over the next 20kms of undulating terrain, I kept a steady pace but fatigue was creeping in and by this stage the temperature was in the mid 30's.
The feed stations throughout the race are manned by volunteers and locals of each town/village and they were awesome with their support and encouragement. I felt bad having to turn away BBQ and beers at a number of them! The second half of the course had two 5km climbs, both with constant steep gradients. Some parts of the climbs had rope tied through the trees to help, due to the steepness. I started to feel light headed and I limped into the final feed zone at the town of Pale, just 10km from the finish. From there it was only short climb followed by downhill all the way to the finish. I managed to make it over the last lump and then ticked the legs over on the downhill quick enough to finish with a gap of about 9mins to 2nd place, closing out the race in a total time of 7hrs32mins. The heat and overall effort took it's toll; during 24hrs post race I suffered dizziness and vomiting.
A huge thank you to the race organisation Megalesia ASD and the race sponsors who put on a great, well organised event. I certainly hope to be back next year.