“I got to the top of the mountain so fast, my friends hadn’t even set up the camera!”
Over the last two years, I have competed in multiple trail races all over the UK, as well as France and Italy. The ones abroad are definitely my favourite races – mostly because I tend to pick countries that are warm, with stunning mountain ranges.
The picture above is from my first mountain race in The Dolomites, Italy, in June 2018. The race was 19km with 1000m of elevation. To some, that may seem a lot but I was now in the ‘trail running world’, where 19km was short and 120km was long. Yes, that’s 120km of running in the mountains, non-stop. I had one friend who ran this in about 18 hours. He crossed the finish line and immediately downed a beer – legend.
At the start line, my chest was pounding; I’d sufficiently ‘carbed up’ – mostly on pizza and baguettes. My bag was packed with snacks and gels and I had the required kit, including 1l of water. We’d been warned of a storm coming in soon, so to stay alert as we could be taken off of the mountain at any moment. But there wasn’t much time to deliberate this, 3, 2, 1, GOOOOO!
Up we went, up up up and into the mountains. I wasn’t keeping to any pace, I was just running and soon left my friends as I went on ahead, keen to beat the pending storm. I will always remember the shocked look on my two friend’s faces when they saw me at the top of the climb. They weren’t expecting to see me so soon. In fact, they’d barely reached the cheering spot themselves and hadn’t even set their camera equipment up yet. I didn’t stop for long, a quick wave and it was down the other side of the mountain.
Going down was actually quite hard. The legs fatigue quite fast as you pound down the rocky, sometimes muddy and uneven terrain – but I was smiling. 9km to go and I was feeling strong.
I remember receiving a text from my mum with about 5k to go: ‘You’re 12th female.’ The message came through to my watch.
“One, two, three females were not too far in front of me. This just became a race.”
I finished 9th lady and 60th overall. I beat the storm. I felt great and I wanted more.