Transgrancanaria 2018 Race Report: A 125km Paella Party

“Donde estan los…toilettes? No. Banos?”

It had been about 14 years since I had spoken Spanish and there at that checkpoint in the middle of the night, I was struggling to remember the most basic of phrases. No surprise though – I don’t think I’ve ever asked for the toilets during a race even in English. You would be much more likely to find me indecently exposed, squatting beside the trail, than coming out of a proper bathroom. The clock is ticking, yo!

Photo 21.02.18, 19 02 07 (1)
Preparing for the race. Everything under control.

But this time, in Transgrancanaria, I decided to take a different approach. Last year, I pushed my body to some pretty hard extremes – and I paid for it (more on that  later). I went into the race well undertrained, so I wasn’t going to be able to gun it ala 2017. For months after Tor des Geants, I only ran a few times a week, rarely breaking 30km. I didn’t hit a 100 km week until the month before the race, and my longest run had only reached 28km. I was honestly unsure of my ability to finish 125km, so I told myself that I was simply going to have to enjoy as many kilometers as I could. I was going to force myself to stop and smell the roses (or, more realistically, stop and smell the proper toilet facilities).

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Tor des Geants 2017: the Race I Couldn’t Quit

Giant piles of glistening cow shit. They were everywhere, mocking me. Obscene displays of effective bowel functions – something that I hadn’t been able to do for days. I hated those piles of shit and the cows that excreted them. Arrogant f*$kers, I muttered under my breath as I passed a group of them. They just sat there chewing, clearly unimpressed with my profanities, dismissing me with a few slow blinks. I continued waddling along the trail, my gait slightly impacted by my protruding belly, when I suddenly tripped on a relatively flat section of grass and landed spread-eagle – chalk outline murder victim styles – in the cow patty-infested field. Okay fine, I deserved that. 

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Imperfect steps

“At some point I’m going to have to pull my finger out here,” John Ellis said with a little laugh as he strode down the dirt path that crossed the ski station.  He stretched his arms out away from him like a human plane, weaving back and forth a bit on the trail as he listened to tunes. John should have been ahead of me at this stage in the race, even though we were only 15 or 20 km into the Eiger Ultra Trail. Frequently on the podium at races in Hong Kong, John was suffering from the altitude out here in the Swiss alps. But it didn’t seem to be killing his mood.

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