Tuesday 15 July 2014

Al Andalus Ultimate Trail Multi day stage race 230km

This is PART 1... more along the lines of information about the race and the kit I had... my experience of the race is PART 2

Al Andalus Ultimate Trail (AAUT) is 230km, with 7000m ascent, of trail running in Southern Spain (and the weather that goes with it!) Split over 5 stages the distances for each of the 5 days being 38, 48, 37, 67 and 39 km.

Next years poster

The route is a mix of mountain tracks, 4x4 tracks, single track and the odd km of road, all incredibly well marked, taking in some fantastic scenery. I had such a fantastic week, the organisation was fantastic, everything was taken care of.

I'll elaborate a little later but in short....
Wake up 7- 8ish. 2 Breakfast 9bars and a litre of water, 9 am go running, enjoy a few hours of trail running, follow the pink arrows, finish, eat lots of watermelon, clap other runners in, hang out by the pool, eat some more, go to dinner and briefing, repeat x 5 with a big prize giving dinner at the end (I managed a good prize haul for the overall win ;) )

Out on route day 2?

It's a semi supported race meaning you DON'T need to carry EVERYTHING like the MDS or Gobi Challenge or other  4 Deserts type events. Your main overnight bag is transported to the finish each day for you. All you need to run with each day is your day bag (I used a Salomon waist belt) water bottle, a hat, and had first aid kit and camera phone. It'd be a good idea to carry anything else you'd normally need on a long run, skimping on some vital bits of kit that you might rely on for the sake of a few hundred grams probably not a good plan.

Ran with that + 2 bottles

The water stations were approx 10km apart and many had cold towels and ice along with Elete electrolyte replacement. On the two longer days I took a sachet of SIS go powder too but didn't do any actual food on any of the stages. There was usually coke on the last two CPs each day also which I normally had a cup of too.

First CP of the race

In terms of kit this is what I took..... I've added a little note next to them... Remember the organisers transported your overnight bag so within reason you can carry what you want, I just like to travel light and only had hand luggage on the flights....

Snugpak sleeping bag (comfort rating 7degrees) never needed to zip it up
Thermarest - would be pretty uncomfortable without one!
Inflatable pillow - was in bargain bucket at Decathlon on Friday
Towel - Microfibre one, more used for lying as sun was hot enough to dry out after swimming/ showering
Wash kit -
 P20 suncream
 Blister plasters, adhesive tape - basic first aid things, never had to use any of it.
Vaseline - Small tin ... Stops things rubbing, worth carrying though I never used it
Shoes for around camp - Merrel Barefoot ones, they squash flat and weigh nothing
 Shorts, Vest and Berghaus jacket for at camp (a thin fleece would have been more than sufficient, temp dropped into the teens during the night/ early morning)
5 pairs of socks
2 pairs of run shorts (ripped one pair so good job)
1 vest
1 mesh hat with peak
1 pair of Mizuno Wave Ascend Trail shoes (road shoes would have been ok I think on the whole, I don't own any that are fit to run in at the moment though) Would use the Ascends again - not found anything better yet!
Salomon Xt wings belt - bottle holder belt with an extra couple of pockets for first aid and camera.
2 x 600ml bottles, usually only had 1 to drink between CP's but used the other for tipping water on myself on longer days - worth considering how long you'll be between cps some people who were slower runners were going through all the water before the cps...
Camera phone for piccies on route also has inbuilt torch for around camp at night
Garmin 310xt gps watch, record the data and keep an eye on things if you want to
Sunglasses - The usual Oakley's which are fab! (Thanks Di)
Food wise I took....
5 x Dehydrated meals, the Decathlon ones which were nice enough.
10 x Breakfast 9bars (2 each morning although on Friday I only ate 1)
5 x Rego recovery shake... Normally like to mix my own but went with the pre made sachets to avoid any awkwardness in the airports taking random bags of powder.
5 x SIS Go carbohydrate sachets ... handy to carry and mix into water if needed.
5 x protein recovery bars.

And I think that was about it.....

I was originally planning to do a weeks running somewhere mountainous myself but then decided to just enter the race and use that as a training week and a holiday combined, all the organisation, route planning and logistics already done and sorted, plus the opportunity to spend a week with a fantastic group of inspiring runners and all the crew who did a perfect job of looking after us all and going out of their way to help make it such a great week!

Follow the pink arrows!

Training wise I'm pretty well conditioned to long back to back runs in the hills and was able to run comfortably all week without any issues and also without smashing myself so I'm happy with that! Compared to my first ever running race back in 2010 The Gobi Challenge which was also a stage race where I had the approach to hike mostly and jog the easy bits on and off and literally just get to the end alive, this one I planned to ignore what other runners were doing and just run a comfortable pace, stay on course and enjoy the week. For The Gobi it was a huge unknown, would I be able to do it or not? This time the only real concern was how hot it would be...

Anyway onto Part 2... The Start!

Cloudy start! Gone by 10 am and never to be seen again!

More race info and entries etc on the link below... Head to PART 2 for my account of the week :)


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