Transvulcania 2017...Wow! What a race from start to finish. We set the alarms for 2.40am, went to bed and dozed until the beep beep started. Up we got, all our gear ready from the night before, got dressed quickly & set about trying to eat something (not an easy task at that hour of the day). We left our apartment to join the other The Walking Dead dressed in running gear heading to the bus stop!!The buses arrived promptly and we were off. A 40 min drive to the bottom of the Island. A quiet, nervous, slightly tense journey.
The bus stopped at Faro de Fuencaliente lighthouse. It was pitch dark as we made our way to the 1,000's of runners waiting to line up for the start of this epic race. We saw some elites lit up in the front row like they were in a shop window. Us mere mortals went to our spot and lined up ready for action. The atmosphere was electric, over 1500 people queuing up for their mission. I got a little emotional looking around, thinking this is it, this is really happening!
Because that's what it is, it's a mission and a very personal one. Only you can make it up that mountain & only you can decide that you really want it. The mission was on! At 6am we started, a trail of lights snaking their way up towards the mountains. It was straight onto a single technical trail, queues to get started and eager legs to get running.
There wasn't much running for the first 14k...all uphill with approx 2000m elevation😲...it was going well though and I had no issues with the climb...Juju's training was definitely paying off. Once we could take our poles out it got easier. That was about 7k in after passing the first aid station. Another emotional moment going through that village...I felt like a superstar, everyone cheering you on. Amazing!
As we climbed the black sandy trails, the higher we got the more trees there were. The ground was a mix of volcanic rocks and sandy stones. It was hard going with little stones getting into my shoes...I was conscious of hitting the check points before the cut off times so I pushed on, tap, tap, tap with my poles, getting more comfortable with them with every step.
Looking ahead, all I could see was a trail of people all getting higher and higher so it was a case of mind over matter...just move, the legs will do what they do. I kept climbing, reached the check point with time to spare so all good, I was relieved. I felt like now I could be part of the experience, that I belonged here as much as anyone else. That's the thing with me, sometimes I feel like an outsider, like I'm not as capable or experienced as these Ultra runners all around me. But I was starting to really feel like I belonged now.
Pushing on, up in the forest, it got foggy and a little misty rain was a very welcome feeling! The lushness of the surrounding were superb and the colours like a painting. It was beautiful. There were hairy trees and beautiful wild flowers. There was still more climbing to do but I felt good so I was happy.
More climbing, it was hot again and it was becoming relentless. I saw Jay up ahead and thought there must be something seriously wrong for me to catch up with him. It was really nice to see a friend. I hadn't talked to anyone in hours and that's tough going for me!! He was not doing good, the heat was killing him and he was a little delirious. We talked for a minute and he said to push on...so I did. I really hoped he would be ok. I said good bye and pushed on.
Heading higher, I felt like I was on top of the world, high above the clouds with amazing views. I couldn't believe I had climbed that high. We still weren't at the highest point!! I kept saying to myself once I get to the 50k aid station I will be ok...☺
The Roque de los Muchachos, (the highest point) and near the 50k mark took what seemed for ever to materialise! You could see where we had to go but never seemed to get closer! I was beginning to get tired and my knee was starting to give me trouble now. I got to the aid station at 46k, sat down beside a guy who was crying, sobbing like a baby. I couldn't handle it....I was going to start too unless I got out of there. I knew how he felt. I gave him a hug, got a quick fill up of my bottles and moved on. This was going to be great (or so I thought)....all downhill from here and I was nearly at the 50k mark. Tap, tap, tap...
It wasn't to be, my knee couldn't take the downhill at all. It was starting to hurt. Even if my knee was good, the downhill was so steep & technical I would have found it difficult anyhow. At the 50k mark I decided to go with the flow, try to ignore the pain and get on with it. At this point I was thinking if I can get to 60k, I'll do it!
This was when Jay turned up again.....big smile, bounding down the trails, loving the terrain, jumping rock to rock, not a bother on him. He had his mojo back. I was delighted for him and a little envious of his energy. It was great to see him though ☺
"Keep on moving, don't stop now...keep on moving" was singing in my head, I plodded on, still sore. Singing was the best thing to do...ignore the pain!!
The next aid station and I had a brainwave, I could get some ibuprofen, that would at least give me some relief. And it did...I did what I do with my kids, timed 20mins and I was like a new woman. I still couldn't run the hills and my toe was sore now too but I could get down the hill faster and without too much pain.
My head was good, my body was ok considering and it was becoming a reality that I might just do this. The downhills were becoming relentless, more so than the up hill had been, sharp rocks the whole way. I caught up with two girls who spoke English...I was so excited at the prospect of talking to someone. We chatted about how the race was like child birth...once you start you just have to see it through, how we were lucky to have had tough long births as this wasn't as hard...funny 😅
And then we got to the zigzags above Tazacorte.....well I never!!! I got dizzy looking down, remembered that I don't like heights and began my descent. I was trying to be light on my feet and not clench my toes, doing what I was told to do but I found it hard. My body did one thing, my brain telling it to do another. It was a huge relief to get back to sea level and again the cheers and shouts from the spectators were amazing. There were only 170 women in the race so people were really supportive of us.
Not far to go now, running along the path feeling good, a flat path...heaven!! For about 2 mins and then we were routed onto the beach, more bloody sand!!!! And then up through a rocky river bed. It felt like someone was laughing hard when they mapped the route for the race, an evil laugh!! This was cruel. My watch said 64k...I had 10k to go or so I thought. Then there was a b##ch of a hill to climb. I thought I was tied for time so I motored up that hill passing 10 people on route. I was going to get back before the cut off if it killed me. My watch still said 64k! At the top of the hill the Marshall pointed to a sign that said Los Llanos 1.6km
It took a few minutes but I then realised my watch was wrong and I got a mojo moment and I ran, smile on my face and tears in my eyes, high fiving so many kids and cheering along with people cheering me on.
I'm proud to say I ran over that finish line, mission complete - 75km and 4350m climbing. My training paid off big time (big love and hugs to Juju ✌)
I feel I belong now. 🏅