100 miles of Christmas | Bello Gallico
So, Bello Gallico... Supposedly the easiest event Legends Trails have to offer... Twice the same loop, once clockwise, once counterclockwise. Hot food halfway, dropbag at 40 and 120. Because of the lack of elevation (2400m) I heard it being described as an easy 100 miler. I guess one of the things I will remember from this weekend is that there is no such thing as "an easy 100 miler". It's just a ridiculously long distance. Every little thing that is not perfectly ok, physically, mentally or materialwise, will get you into trouble later on in the race and needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible. But hard as it may be, I think this also why I'm taking quite a liking to this distance. To compare, 100k is "merely" a really long run, while surviving a 100 miler seems to be a different story and more an adventure.
A difficult start
The first half of Bello Gallico was troublesome. Main reason was probably my knee, which gave me a bit of trouble at the end of the Grizzly Trail 100k in October. I took it easy on Olne-Spa-Olne 70k in November and didn't do any running the last few weeks, hoping it would pass, but after 10k I felt it coming back. I guess I altered my stride ever so slightly, which seemed to have caused a higher burden on my right thigh, which was the next spot that gave me trouble. Thoughts about DNF'ing started coming up at around 30k, but meeting Alexia at one of the road-crossings gave me new energy and a positive mindset to get to the CP at 60k (seriously, the volunteers at Legends are amazing). There I had a chat with Chloe, who gave me the push I needed to have the doctor take a look at my knee, just to make sure I didn't do any damage. After some twisting and bending, I was very relieved to hear the verdict. I could continue, just take it easy, and have a painkiller (500mg paracetamol every 3 hours during 24h is the maximum allowed) if my knee gave me too much trouble. Taking painkillers did feel a bit like cheating (I took 3 over the next 10 hours or so), and I really don't like the idea of blocking the signals your body is giving at times when you should listen to it the most. But from there on, the race changed completely for me. The next 100k were obviously no walk in the park, but so much more enjoyable than the first 60k. I ran a long way together with Chloe, who gives such amount of positive energy that running through the mud in the freezing night is simply a great place to be (she would finish as first female later on). After trying to take a 15min nap at 120k, we split up, and I went through the last 40k alone. And although it still was a long way to go, although the end never seemed to get nearer, although I saw some movements in the dark which probably weren't there, I got through that part relatively ok. Getting to the finish line after a long night in the forest felt pretty strange. At moments, your mind seems to be accepting the feeling that you're going to stay stuck in the mud and the darkness for ever. And all of a sudden, people are applauding, you shake hands with Tim, get a medal around your neck and are offered limoncello by Frank. You've finished and you're home among friends.
A big thank you!
I'm not going to try to describe the satisfaction you feel the moment and days after finishing such an event, but the feeling goes really deep. So again, a huge thanks to everyone making this possible. Frank with his sportsdrinks, Alexia, always bustling with enthusiasm, Harry waking everybody up again, the doctor who gave me peace of mind on my knee, Ingo and Eric for getting me across the street, Roland for having a chat and pointing me in the right direction, Maarten for putting up the signage, Wannes for taking it down again, Teun and the safety team to follow up on everyone, Wendy, Imran and Dave for always being there, all the participants, the kitchen team for soup, hot food, coffee, and the post run cheese sandwich, the camera crew, Tim and Stef... And of course Chloe, who I was lucky enough to spend a big part of the weekend with and without whom this wouldn't have been one of the best runs I've had so far. You guys are the best.
An "easy" 100 miler
I've got two conclusions. There is no such thing as an easy 100-miler, and I only reached the finish line because of the help and support I received from other people. I think the best way to sum up my post BG-feeling is that I'm looking forward to the Legends Trail (find out how that went here). I hope you know what that means.
Everything you need to know about this event can be found right here.