Night of Flanders 2011

The Night of Flanders is Belgium's most important ultrarunning event, and one of the world's oldest 100km races, with a glorious 32 year history full of heroic battles and blistering fast times, set by ultrarunning legends such as Jean-Paul Praet, Konstantin Santalov, and Yiannis Kouros. Although there has been a steady decline in the performances over the past decade, this year's lineup was pretty good, with four sub-7h runners, including myself.

Those four race favourites clustered together right from the start. Ukrainian Oleksandr Holovnitsky (European silver medal holder and winner of the 2004 edition of The Night) set a brisk opening pace, with compatriot Evgeni Glyva, Czech champion Daniel Oralek, and I following closely behind. Despite the rather strong wind, we passed the 10km point in just under 38'. Projected finishing time: 6h20'! At 30k, Glyva accelerated, and I was the only one who could follow. 10k later, however, I decided to let him go, and settle down in my own pace. My stomach was troubling me, and I didn't want to risk blowing up my engine. Slowly but steadily, Glyva ran away from me. I passed marathon point in 2h45', and 50k in 3h17'. Despite feeling sick, I tried to drink some sugar. The next 50k were a succession of vomiting and drinking. Amazingly, I still managed to keep running at a reasonable pace. After 80k, I was 5' behind the leader, and more than 10' ahead of the Holovnitsky. Then, suddenly, spectactors told me that I was closing down the gap. At 95k, Glyva's lead had been reduced to a mere 2'30".

Alas, he somehow found a final kick, and finished in just under 6h53'. I was happy and relieved to cross the finish line in less than 7h. Although I didn't win the race, and had hoped to run at least 10' faster than I did, I'm satisfied with my second place and fourth consecutive Belgian 100k title. My stomach hurt for another 12 hours, whereas my legs felt just fine. Frustrating. But I think I know how to solve those stomach problems. Just wait and see in Winschoten!

1. GLYVA Evgeni......41 UKR 6:52:58 14.53

2. VERMEESCH Pieter..35 BEL 6:57:35 14.37
3. HOLOVNITSKY O.....41 UKR 7:15:07 13.79
4. VRAJICS Marija....41 CRO 7:37:34 13.11
5. VAN HOECK Yves....40 BEL 7:44:46 12.90
6. CASIER Gino.......39 BEL 7:56:25 12.59
7. MERTENS Gert......47 BEL 7:59:33 12.51
8. DEDAPPER Yves.....38 BEL 8:02:10 12.44
9. BOMERÉ Kurt.......43 BEL 8:10:36 12.23
10.MOLEMANS Patrick..49 BEL 8:26:04 11.85

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