trail du vuache

Race report: Trail du Vuache

Distance: 26.2 km
Elevation: +700 m
Route: Start and finish: Vulbens, looping around le Vuache
Conditions: Perfectly clear and sunny. Comfortable temperature running in the trees. 163 runners.

I was hoping that we would sleep-in this morning, but when the alarm sounded, Derek decided to get up for the first edition of the Trail du Vuache. I thought about staying home while he ran, but chose to go along for support. I packed my running clothes so that I could go for a jog while I waited.

The race started in Vulbens, just a ten minute drive down the valley, and would make a full loop of le Vuache, a small mountain stretching between the Alps and the Jura. Since same-day registration was an option, we both filled out the form and handed over our medical certifications (brought mine, just in case). As long as we were here, and it was a gorgeous morning, I figured I may as well start, and see what the trail was like. I hoped to run a few kilometers and then turn and walk back to town. If I was lucky, I might jog the whole course, but I knew it wasn't a good idea since I've just been able to walk on my achilles again in the past few days. It was still swollen, a little tired from hiking yesterday, but not painful. I told myself not to compete today, start out slowly, mid-pack, and enjoy as much of the trail as I thought I could without setting back my recovery.

We were a pack of 163 runners squinting into the sunlight waiting at the start. After the gun, Derek and I ran beside each other for a few kilometers, easing into the run. I hadn't brought headphones or even my watch. There were no kilometer markers either, so it was the perfect chance to experience the trail with no set pace or expectation. I had no nerves at the beginning and didn't even notice where the other women runners might be along the course until being cheered on as the third woman. At kilometer 11 (looking back at the course map) I moved into second during an uphill climb, and I knew I wanted to stay there. I fought the urge to compete, telling myself to keep calm, run a sustainable pace, and not get overly excited by the hopes of a podium finish. There was still a long way to go.

Photos: Jacques Cusin
The western side of the mountain was long and flat with a few downhill sections. It was a great course to hit a stride and stay with it. I kept hoping for another climb (my strength), the best chance of holding my position. A climb finally came and narrowed into a technical section, mud, roots, and a scramble with 5 kilometers to go. I exited the woods at the north point of le Vuache into the exposed fields and a grueling incline toward the finish. It wasn't steep, but this late in the race, the gradual inclination slowed me to a trudge. I hadn't come this far to give up now, and had to really dig to find the energy to finish, tagging along with a few other runners and encouraging each other to go the last little bit. I finished in a few hundred meter sprint with another runner. He had a goal to break the 2:30 mark, and for the first time in the race, I knew how long I had been running. When I crossed the finish, I had maintained the second place for women, and finished first for the Senior age category- something that never crossed my mind during the run. What a great surprise! Derek joined me at the finish line in 02:43,15 and we enjoyed the wine and snacks while stretching and waiting for the podium presentation.      

The race was extremely well organized, the course well-marked, and the volunteers were among the most excited and encouraging as can be. All this, plus perfect weather, made for a beautiful and fun event with a strong feeling of community support. I'd strongly recommend it, especially for runners ready for the trails without hitting the high mountains, and cannot wait to go again next year.

An article from TPS Infos.

Pinot approves the prize - local goodies to share with friends!

Finish & ranking: 02:29, 46   1 / 15 Senior  2 / 29 Women