It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed standing at the start line of races in the Golden Trail Series. I look around me and see some of the best trail running athletes in the world, and it’s easy to feel intimidated. Most of these guys have been running a long time, and for a lot of it at a fairly high level. I feel like I have somehow stumbled onto the start line after having 7 months off with no running last year.
But that’s the good thing about running. Once that gun goes off you just have to put one foot in front of the other, and the fastest one to the end wins. The course doesn’t care how many followers you have on your social media profile, who your sponsors are/and aren’t, where you’re from and how long you’ve been running for. All that matters is how much you can push yourself on that race course, how deep you can dig.
I was surprised when I managed to get invited to race in some of the Golden Trail Series races, and through my achievements in these races, more invites have followed.
The first race at Olla d’ Nuria was a massive shock to the system. It was brutal. In the first 5km the race went up 1000m, then in the following 15km another 1000m, followed by a super technical downhill. All this is being run at just below 3000m altitude, so you’re also gasping for air. I felt really good leading into the race, and was pretty shocked when the body didn’t feel good right from the get-go. I had never had a “bad race” up until this point, and basically dragged my body to the end. I still enjoyed it though, I changed my mentality as I was grimacing through the inner-thigh cramps, and enjoyed the views and support along the way.
The following races with the Mont Blanc Marathon and Dolomites worked out a lot better for me. The former being a lot more suited to my style of racing, with more time to warm into the race. I’ve come to figure out experience can count for so much in these races, and proper knowledge of the race course. I often get to the place around 3 days beforehand, so I get to see some of the route. But often the women I’m racing have raced the course numerous times, knowing when to push and when to save. I know already I will be able to go into these races next year with more confidence from having raced the course.
Even having the knowledge of the terrain in choosing the correct footwear helps a lot. For the Olla de Nuria race I wore my HOKA ONE ONE Evo Jawz shoes, the grip and lightness of the shoes were great for the terrain and technical descents. For the Mont Blanc Marathon I wore my Torrent 2’s, one of my favourite HOKA ONE ONE shoes, and the shoes I will probably wear for the up and coming OCC race which is part of UTMB in Chamonix.
OCC is a 56km +3500m race that starts in Orsieres in Switzerland and finishes in Chamonix in France. I ran it back in 2019, and managed 6th place overall female finisher, so I am hoping this year I can finish both with a faster time and better placing - the former being a lot more important to me. I think it’s so important to feel like you’ve given your all at races, and not become too consumed in the number or placing you are at the end. I would rather be neck and neck with another female, and feel like I have pushed myself to my absolute limit, and come second (third, fourth, fifth etc) in a race than finish first and wonder if I could have gone harder, faster, been stronger. At the end of the day success is piece of mind in knowing you have done your best, not a trophy or a medal at the end