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"Wenn ich im Sinne des Ultrasports wetten müßte, auf Restmeter oder Erkrath,.....ich würde auf Erkrath setzten."

Wolfgang Gräf

Nächster Ultramarathon

Alle zeigen - Bericht von Andre Hall zum Le Grand Raid Dentelles Ventoux:
Andre Hall , 21.05.2009

Grand Raid Dentelles Ventoux 16 – 17 May 2009

100KM of largely single-track trail, 5165 meters of elevation change (summit at 1910 meters), blue skies, 24 hours of race time, a fantastic group of sponsors and lots of friends make for a tremendous opportunity to find yourself in the mountains of Southern France!

Based in the village of Gigondas France, this year’s Grand Raid Dentelles Ventoux was hosted by the Rotary Club and Inner Wheel from Orange and the Raid International Organization Association. The hosts provided a first class ultramarathoning experience from start to finish.

This was my first 100KM. Having established what I considered a decent training plan following completion of the Trail de la la Vallée des Lacs (53KM) in June 2008 and the Brocken Challenge (~80KM) in February 2009 I decided to seek out a “challenging” 100KM ultra. A friend and I set out to do this one together as part of a train up and qualification for Mont Blanc.

Planning, news of, coordination with and reception of runners by the Rotary Club was phenomenal. After traveling from south western Germany to participate in final registration activities on 15 May the final in-processing program was well organized and effective. Rotary Club volunteers received runners, worked through any final administrative issues and checked runners’ equipment prior to issuing race numbers. Reception was followed by an initial race in-brief and a fantastic dinner done in local style (the homemade deserts and Gigonadas cherries were out of this world!). Billeting and showers (if selected and paid for during registration) was available in the immediate start and finish areas of the race. These dormitory facilities were well organized, clean and well outfitted for several hundred runners. This was a tremendous relief as it rained most of the day on 15 May and it was nice to be under a well kept and organized roof prior to the kick off of the race. Breakfast on 16 May was scheduled for 0330 so I went to bed early…

I got up early on 16 May to organize, make final preparations and have a bite to eat at breakfast at 0330. Going into this event my greatest worry was having enough calories and water available over the course of the race. The race organizers had specified a minimum of 1.5 liters of 3000 calories must be available with each runner. I rigged up a Nathan pack with a 3-liter bladder, two additional fluid bottles and about 5500 calories. On average I drank 2 liters of water between each leg and ate almost 3500 calories over the course. The weather was perfect with clear star lit skies and a cool breeze blowing. Runners started forming up for the start in Gigondas at about 0400. Race organizers used an interesting time keeping system (electronic bib numbers) that were scanned in as you entered the start area. At 0430 with approximately 250 runners the race started.

On the evening of 15 May the organizers had briefed that the race was marked with two types of ribbons. They also briefed that there were several other events occurring over the race course that could confuse runners. This was to prove a challenge for many runners…

Running to the second control station at Lac du Paty (KM 18) went well. We had started in darkness and watched the day dawn with a crystal blue sky. The joy of such a brilliant day was dampened by the fact that it was getting very warm which contributed to my worry of staying hydrated. At Curnier (Control Station 3, KM 30) I took on fluids and was thrilled to find that the organizers were providing more food than advertised. I also re-discovered my appreciation for Cola – caffeine rocks when you’re running an ultra. At Curnier our equipment was checked again to ensure we had all of the directed safety equipment prior to attempting to move up to the summit of Mont Ventoux (1910m).

Movement between Curnier and the summit of Mont Ventoux proved to be the first of my two significant challenges of this race. I call them the “gut checks”. This assent covered 10KM of largely single-track trails that were characterized by many ups and downs, very nice cliffs, a blazing sun and a lot of talus. Movement physically and mentally became a significant challenge. After beating myself against Mont Ventoux for what seemed like hours we finally arrived at the summit to take on fluids and enjoy the view. I was amazed at being able to see the snow capped Alps in the distance – absolutely breathtaking! After a very short break we began our descent down off of Mont Ventoux to Brantes, a distance of 14 KM. While making this descent we became misoriented as the trail was not marked well (remember there were other events going on and it seemed that everyone was using the same type of streamer). At this point, having now moved almost 54KM over complex terrain, the mind begins to play tricks on you. Are we lost? Where is the trail? What if we’re headed in the wrong direction (I really don’t want to go back up Mont Ventoux), what if we fail to make it to Brantes before the control station closes? As you might imagine, running with a partner compounds theses worries as both of your are now becoming flustered. Truly exciting times…

Nonetheless… After asking some of the locals in broken French, German and English if we were headed in the general right direction (we were on the trail as they confirmed smiling) we finally arrived in Brantes. This is going to be a long day friends…

At Brantes we were greeted by a small cheering crowd and a very friendly control station staff. We took a break a this control station to change socks (mistake) and get a quick leg message (made me a new man). Having refueled, retanked and feeling like a million dollars we took off for Veaux and the control station at KM 68. At Veaux the control team played a mind game on me (at least it seemed a game in my head) that I was running behind the clock and would have to move extremely quickly to the next station over complex terrain in order to stay in the race (The team at Brantes had told me that I was at least two hours ahead of schedule and had nothing to worry about. Keep in mind that runners were given 24 hours to complete this race. That said, the stations rolled up at specified times in order to clear the route and keep the race organized.) My next objective was Le Groseau and the control station at KM 80 and I had to hurry (according to the station at Veaux).

Movement to Les Rissas went better than I had anticipated. Although they were correct in stating that the terrain was rugged and complex the movement went well. I talked to my wife on the phone during this leg – what a joy to hear a friendly voice rooting you on! (She had assumed we would have been finished by now. Go figure…) The control station at Les Rissas was incredible! You could hear the station about a kilometer out as they had packed in generators, lights and a music system and had been partying since about 0800 the morning of 16 May. At the station we were treated to soup, fluids, bread and cheese and were invited back to join the party once we finished…

Having retanked and gotten re-motivated we moved on to Le Groseau and KM 80. Movement over this leg took us back up to almost 700 meters and then rapidly descended into the village of Le Groseau where we arrived as darkness was setting in on us again. The control station at Le Groseau was well equipped and organized with another medical/message tent, fluids and snacks (cold bean soup never tasted so good!). After a final check of lights, whistles, emergency blankets and first aid kids we moved off into the darkness of canopied single-track trails.

Thankfully, the final legs of the route were well marked as we moved again over complex and hilly trails (back up to almost 800 meters. While running this leg we linked up with Bernie Conradt of Coolrunners fame. The three of us moved through the darkness and gloom approaching the finish. My second “Gut Check” occurred at Saint-Amand, KM 91. As we approached the control station Bernie told us that we were arriving at KM 91. Based on the lights of the station and village and the length of time it had taken us to move I had convinced myself that this was somehow the finish. I had to ask two other people at the station if this really was in fact KM 91 and if we really had 9 more kilometers to go. I left Saint-Amand mentally exhausted having to reach deep down to keep moving.

The final nine kilometer leg was largely down hill still over complex and terrain covered in talus. As I recall, the three of us did not do much talking over this final stretch back into Gigondas until we could actually see the lights of the village in the distance. On 17 May after 22:24 hours moving over a very challenging course we made it back into Gigondas and the finish line. It was fantastic to be received by clapping and cheering race volunteers. This race reinforced my opinion of these volunteers – they are an incredible group of people that make all the difference in the world.

The Grand Raid Dentelles Ventoux is one of those ultras that you’ve got to reach down deep inside on. It’s one you’ve got to want… I highly recommend taking it on. Everything from organization, the route to the Provence are tremendous – a five star affair. You’ll enjoy it…

© Andre Hall, 21.05.2009

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