EC 100km (Belvès, FR)

When the IAU announced that this year's European 100km Championships would be organised on April 27th, I initially decided to give it a pass. Barely six days after the London marathon, it seemed unlikely that I would recover sufficiently to even complete the distance at all. But the Belgian coach somehow convinced me to register anyway, the idea being that if the weather conditions in London were unsuitable for a new PB, then I would complete the marathon as a training run and save my legs for the 100km race. However, the forecast for Sunday April 21st turned out to be absolutely perfect, so I decided to try and set a new PB on the marathon, and forget about the European Championship. That was the plan on the evening of April 20th, but at 3am on Sunday, I woke up sick and vomiting. I travelled to the start line weakened and demoralised. But in the excitement of the great race that is the Virgin London Marathon, I thought I should give it my best shot anyway, hoping that my condition would improve as the race unfolded. Sadly that did not happen. Feeling bloated and miserable, I managed to complete the first 5k within the target time of 16:30, and came through 10k in well under 33 minutes. But at that point, I felt so uncomfortable that I had to slow down, and eventually dropped out shortly after half marathon point. My first DNF in over 20 marathons.

On to Plan B, then. I was weakened, fatigued and sick until Wednesday, but my health improved significantly from Thursday onwards. I finally felt 100% again on Saturday morning, just in time for the 100km race. The entire podium of last year's championship was absent, due to injuries and other commitments. This was a unique opportunity to claim my first international title. The race took place in the beautiful Périgord Noir region of south-western France, over one long undulating loop, from Belvès to Sarlat and back. The first 50km were uneventful and, as championship races go, relatively pleasant as we ran past spectacular castles and through picturesque villages. I arrived in Sarlat after 3h18', shortly behind three Spaniards. A 100km race doesn't start until 60km, and at that point I felt confident that I would catch the leaders and leave them behind. But then, at the 65km aid station, I couldn't find my supplies! By the time I reached the next fuel stop, I hadn't had anything to drink for 10km and felt significantly weakened. The final 25km of the race became a real struggle. But my Spanish rivals were suffering too and I somehow managed to cling on to second place until 3km before the finish line. Then, I was dealt a tremendous blow by the proverbial hammer, felt dizzy until I reached the final fuel station, at which point two other runners had passed me. At the end of the day, four championship runners managed to complete the hilly course in under 7h, four of whom received a medal and one of whom did not. That poor soul was me. A disappointing end to a roller coaster week.
1  CUEVAS Asier          Spain   6:53:14
2  BOCH Michaël          France  6:56:49
3  REQUEJO José Antonio  Spain   6:57:02
4  VERMEESCH Pieter      Belgium 6:58:06
5  RISA Jarle            Norway  7:01:39
6  JIMENEZ Miguel Angel  Spain   7:04:36
7  BORDET Dominique      France  7:05:17
8  DOHERTY Dan           Ireland 7:06:00
9  PAVLOV Dimitri        Russia  7:08:12
10 SPIRIDONOV Vasily     Russia  7:08:43

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