WC 24h (Brive, FR)

First of all, some excuses:
  1. The 24h race took place less than three weeks after London Marathon. Although I had completely recovered from the marathon, my entire preparation was aimed at running 26 miles as fast as possible and I hadn't done any specific ultramarathon training.
  2. I had only just recovered from a nasty stomach flu, with 39 degree fever which prevented me from eating for three full days. At the start of the race, I only weighed 68kg, which is not much for someone who's 1m90' tall, and probably not enough to survive an epic 24h battle.
  3. I had been training without socks for a year. That's all fine until 100km, beyond was uncharted territory. Because of the rainy weather forecast for the night of May 14 and 13, I made a last minute decision to put on some socks anyway.
The actual race is best summarised with the following graph:

I ran at a decent pace for the first 15 hours of the race, well on target to a distance of more than 240km. What the chart does not show is that my thighs began to hurt after only 100km, and that I didn't enjoy a minute of the race. The race course was twisting, turning, and overcrowded with slower runners and walkers. After 100 miles, my shoes were feeling tight so I took a pit stop to have a look at my feet, because. After a 20 minute break to treat some huge blisters, I could barely get out of my chair and immediately know that there would be no more running. So I walked for the final eight hours, reaching an honorable 205km.

Conclusions:
  1. A 24-hour race is not a marathon. The two disciplines are hard if not impossible to combine. If I am to run a decent 24h race, I will have to specifically prepare for it. That would probably hurt my performance on the shorter distances. I am not (yet) prepared to make that sacrifice.
  2. I am not too disappointed about my sub-par performance. Given the aforementioned three excuses, this was probably the best I could have done under the given circumstances. I'm actually quite proud that despite the blisters, the fatigue and the sore legs, the thought of giving up never once crossed my mind.
  3. It was a real privilege to witness the titanic battle between Shingo Inoue (273km) and Scott Jurek (266km) from nearby. It is bizarre to think that neither to athletes come close to my marathon and 100km times.

Acknowledgments:

It would be impossible to continuously run for 24 hours without the help of others. I owe a big thank you to the many volunteers who provided the runners with food, drink, and encouragement, but especially to the Belgian support team: André, Philippe Michel, Magda and Greet. Thanks!

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