After running the Stockholm Marathon I needed to keep myself motivated and searched for some more races… As lately every weekend run is a trail run in the Kennemerduinen I’ve decided to look for a trail run in The Netherlands.
After taking a look on trail-running.eu, the only run that looked promising was N70 Trail… the pictures looked nice, there are several distances to satisfy any runner, nice elevation gain and cold beer at the finish.
I’ve signed up for the race, I trained every weekend between the sand dunes, I’ve even bought a pair of trail running shoes and felt really confident… at the end of the day I was running a 28km race, not a marathon.
It’s race day, early start of the day as ~2hours train ride awaits me… I arrive in Nijmegen in time, rent an OV-Fiets although it’s rainy (I think I’m turning Dutch) and arrive at the race location already warmed up.
The place is crowded, but I manage to get my start number fast… I change, prepare my running backpack and get to the start line for a short warm-up and a few photos.
It’s 11:00 and the race starts – 14km, 28km and marathon distance at the same time. I start from somewhere at the back of the group and try to advance… it’s crowded, narrow at moments and wet. My Asics are fine on trail, but feel slippery on the road.
About 3km into the race it starts to be slightly more relaxed and I start to enjoy the run. There was already a “nice” climb, but I’m confident (I should say too confident). After all there are other guys pushing on the acceleration, but I have no clue what distance they run.
As we progress the sky is getting clearer, it’s getting sunnier and hotter at the same time… The hills keep rolling (am I in the Netherlands?) and in some areas I do some nice “mud skating”, but manage to stay on my feet. Along the course some bagpipes players make the day more enjoyable and make me feel I’m in the highlands (was it beer or whisky what they serve after the race?)
We’re approaching the end of the first loop, but not before climbing another “nice” hill – I feel like walking, but my pride says no and I keep running.
1:22 minutes into the run I finish the first loop and I’m telling myself that the 2:45-2:50 goal that I had before the race is possible.
This is where the “fun” started! Shortly into the second loop I start realizing that trying to keep up with other runners in the first half of the race might not have been the best idea as they were probably running 14km and I still have half of the race in front of me. I try to push myself to run uphill, but it already feels difficult – all the running in the Kennemerduinen didn’t generate as much elevation as a loop at N70 trail did.
I start walking some uphill sections and realize that a marathon can be a simple task. About half way into the second loop I start getting some nice muscle craps despite the High5 gels I’ve had taken during the race… I walk some more, drink some water (I’ve forgot my electrolytes tablets home) and unlike most of the races I’ve done so far I stop at the hydration points and take some oranges and bananas…
Pointless to say that my target time is already out of reach… although some inner demons shout “are we there yet?” and make think about quitting due to the calf cramps I keep pushing and now I run in order to finish under 3 hours.
Once I hear the bagpipes again I know I’m not far from the finish… I’m running at a lower pace, but I’m making good progress.
2 hours and 57 minutes later (official time 2:56:50 – results are available here) I cross the finish line and drop dead on a bench in the shadow…
IT’S OVER! I’ve done it, but it was more difficult than I could imagine…
The Strava activity below tells the story
I crawl to the “bar” and get my reward: a cold Weihenstephan weissbier which “evaporates” in no time!
While drinking my second “medal” the winner of the marathon race arrives smiling and fresh… this is insane!
I guess N70 Trail was a good reality check… trail running is not the same as road running! I may have 3 marathon under my belt and a 3:12 PB, but a 28k trail run can be tougher than anticipated. I guess in order to fulfill my wish of running the EcoMarathon some more specific training will be needed. Also, until this race I never fully realized how important the shoes can be: although I was wearing my Asics Gel-Fujitrabuco 3 trail shoes, there were moments when they made me feel insecure (going down on muddy hill and even running on wet asphalt and cubic stone seemed tricky and slippery at moments). And yeah… a running backpack is a must for longer distances on the trail – although far from perfect, my new Asics backpack did the trick.
Coming back to the event, I can say that this was an excellent run through some really beautiful area with good organization. The only minus in my opinion was the bib numbers pick-up area which seemed a bit small for the number of runners and supporters present there on Sunday and also the changing area and bag drop-off which was a bit crowded. Otherwise an excellent event which I highly recommend as a good chance to break the road running routine and for a serious challenge! I’m sure I’ll be back for more!
During the run I’ve used my GoPro Hero4 to take some pictures and videos… the pictures are available below and the video will be online shortly.
Until next time, happy running!