This year XTERRA will be very pleased to try someting completely new. This will be the first ever XTERRA long distance event staged in Europe with 1,9k Swim, 60km MTB and 20km Trail run to finish. So believe me, if you relish a challenge, then this race will be very tough and demanding indeed ! With a fantastic setting in the heart of the Alps, this exciting race will have lots of elevation for sure ! Amongst many other testing features, we have a cold mountain lake and quite a lot of bike pushing to reach a beautifully scenic ridge. It will be a true wild adventure, that will require a special performance just to cross the finish line alone.
This race will take place on July 28th in Arèche-Beaufort.
As this is a completely new event, Alexandra Borrelly from XTERRA/Organicoach Racing Team, has marked it down as a goal on her race calendar, and therefore would like to give some important tips and information on how to approach this very exciting race.
So here we are, in few days you will take to the startline of XTERRA Graveman!
Are you ready in the starting blocks?! Well you will have needed to be careful in your build up and preparation, and definitely not having done too much!
The big distances, the huge scale of the mountains of the Alps, will combine to make the physical demands and effort much much harder. Therefore your approach and training preparation will need to be much similar to that of a full Ironman, rather than that of a half distance. But the big difference here and reward, will be the beautiful panoramic views and secluded singletrack trails and paths!! This combination could be much better compared to that of the wonderful sport of adventure racing !
One thing is for certain here, you have to pay particular attention to many parameters that could make the difference of a good or bad day high up in the mountains. We are talking long distance, the large total of ascent and descent, the elevation, the technical trails, your nutrition and fluids, the gears, and of course, the all important weather.
First I will look at the Swim :
Before the start it will be most important to stay warm for as long as you possibly can with specialist mountain clothes. If the water is really cold, then definitely do an all important warm up out of the water to prepare your body for the difference.
The temperature of the water at the start will have you feeling that you want to do just a short swim, but if correctly prepared, then that feeling will soon pass ! So the very important consideration here will of course be the water temperature ; If it reaches the bareable 15°C then it will be perfect ! If not, then please do think about neoprene caps and socks, as they will be essential. However, even if it is over 15, you can still use a neoprene cap, just to be happy, confident and comfortable.
Remember the high altitude here and don’t start sprinting off like in a normal 2k swim, as you will be at 1500m of elevation, and you will feel that your breathing is naturally harder.
Transition 1 :
If the weather on race day is not looking to good, then please take lots of technical clothes to change into after the swim leg. You will be permitted to take lots of clothing options to cover all conditions, and there will be separate Transition 1 changing facilities for both the women and men in specially erected tents.
Don’t hesitate to put warm clothes on if you need too, as it is possible to loose 10°C in the Alpine mountains with or without the sun. The important thing to remember here is that you will not loose time if you start dry and warm!
Please pay particular attention to the mandatory equipment that the experienced organizers will advise, and this may possibly change hourly depending on the announced weather conditions!
Mountain Biking :
Ok so we have 60k with 2400m elevation. You will therefore be quite high up in the mountains and around 2000m for quite a long time, with the highest point very close to 2400m. The course will be a combination of long fire roads, with lots of climbing, some technical trails and some parts carrying your bike. The good news is that you’ll find out that this is the real deal when you are playing in mountains.
So don’t worry too much about your speed, it’s more like a nice trip. The goal here is to complete the race and therefore to manage your bike, your muscles, your brain and your energy.
For food it will be a good idea to have an isotonic energy drink bottle with you if you can. You can then replenish this at the aid station and also I advise to have a Camelback drinking system with water (or another bottle) too.
Also remember to take plenty of digestible energy bars in your pack, and aim to consume around one per hour if you can.
Option : Camera for the view?
Transition 2 :
If you need to, you could quite easily change one more time. I would recommend not to use your big bike shorts to do the trail run! Remember to replenish your Camelback or maybe change to a lighter one, or a specialist running belt, with 2 flasks that, you can refill easily.
This will be a real treat for trail runners as this event will be using some pretty cool trails indeed ! The run leg will be 20k, with 1000m of elevation, so this is the real start of this race ; At this crucial part of the race you will soon find out if you have managed your mountain biking energy expenditure efficiently. However, don’t try to go at 10k/h average, as that sort of speed in these conditions will be for the first men only. No record needed here for a half marathon ! You will need some energy to stay under 3 hours for that. You have the option to take some poles if you know how to use them; That will help you a lot on the many uphill sections, and will also allow you to use your arms for the second time of the day. Any energy conserved will be very useful to keep a clear head for the steep downhill sections too.
For food and nutrition, I recommend 2 flasks, one with isotonic energy drink, and the other one with water. This way, if you need to top up the level, it will be much easier to replenish them. Make sure also to continue with the energy bars or maybe something very good and fresh. Then as your race day begins to be long, I would also advise some small shots of apple juice (or other fruits) too. If you can, please take advantage of some fruit at the aid station if there are some on offer.
On completing this tough race, make sure that when you cross the finish line, that you don’t forget to appreciate this unique moment in time. You should be very proud of your achievement, an achievement made at one with Nature. Also remember the mountain is beautiful and if you respect her, it will give back even more. I’m so happy to be part of this new adventure, and hope I will not regret it in a few days after 7 or 8 hours of facing and fighting elements.
More info at www.graveman.com
Think green, stay fit!
Alexandra Borrelly, Organicoach