It was good signs early on, but again, a DNF after I took a tumble on a rocky descent...
The Penyagolosa Trail is an Ultra Trail running event, part of the Ultra Trail World Tour and is held in the north eastern part of Spain, just north of Valencia. The course covers 108kms and 5500m of elevation and is fairly technical with plenty of dry, loose rock trail that's fairly typical of Spanish trails.
I took it easy the weeks leading into the race and was feeling fairly fresh, as I wanted to make sure I didn't over do it and risk becoming ill again.
The race kicked off at midnight in the centre of Castellon de la Plana, a seaside city, with the course winding it's way inland and finishing in the mountains somewhere. The atmosphere was unreal as the streets were lined with people. It was a real carnival feeling with music pumping and two race commentators; one speaking Spanish and one speaking English, whipping everyone up!
It was a standard strong field that you'd expect at a World Tour race with a number of top international pros. I positioned myself well a few rows back at the start, not wanting to get caught up pushing the pace in the first few kms heading out of the city. There was about 4/5kms of flat road running before we reached the trails and headed off road. I was sitting just off the lead group of about 15 early on, running 4 - 4.20min/kms.
In the first 15kms there was some steep, punchy climbs, but nothing too long and the field started to string out and everyone found their rhythm. I found myself catching up to the front of the race and went through the first checkpoint (at about the 15km) in 4th, in a group of about eight or so. I kept the pace fairly steady and was feeling really good, and slightly surprised of how far up I was. Unfortunately it was this relaxed thinking that basically ended my race. On an easy, slightly downhill rocky stretch, I relaxed and momentarily stopped concentrating 100%... and clipped a rock which sent me flying, landing heavily on my left side, mainly on my knee and hip. I tried to limp on in the hope of coming good, but at this stage it was about 3am and getting cold which didn't help. I eventually stumbled my way to a checkpoint at around the 40th km and pulled the pin, no point trying to limp another 60 - 70km of bergs for the sake of it.
Post race I got cleaned up, with the injuries not appearing too serious. Once back home in Italy I had xrays on my ribs, as they were giving me some grief, and turns out I fractured one of them.
So for now it's resting/healing for a short period of time before getting back into training and the season. Frustrating but there were some good signs early on and i'm looking forward to lining up again soon.