Trail Naut Aran Race Report (informe de carrera de les meves experiències)
On August 4th, 2018 I ran the Trail Naut Aran in Salardu, Spain, which was 52k with 3,100 meters of gain/loss (32.3 miles, 10,170 feet) in 9:57:52, for 5th woman out of 12 female finishers, and 41st overall out of 82 total finishers. Here’s how it went!…
I found the race by searching on the UTMB site, I was looking for a destination/vacation race, and Salardu was about 3hrs 45min away from Barcelona, so I signed up. The website and all race communications were in Spanish, but with the help of Google Translate that wasn’t too much of an issue. This race was also good prep for me because it’s approx. the same length/elevation as the Barkley Fall Classic that I’m doing in September 2018, so I wanted to get a sense of what I’m getting myself into :).
In preparation, I plotted all of the aid stations on Google Maps, and broke down the distance and elevation between them on a sheet I could carry with me. I kept my watch on the elevation data the whole race, not milage, because it was easier in my head to process “only 2000ft of climb and 500ft of decent until the next aid” rather than “3 miles to the next aid”, because in reality those 3 miles could easily be 1.5 hours of climbing.
The race took off at 7am from Salardu with about ~90 runners. We ran through Salardu to Unha (the town 1 minute away), then started up the mountains. I started with my Black Diamond Carbon Z Poles in my hands (lesson learned from Lavaredo) and kept them extended and in my hands the whole race. Once up and around the mountain, we went through fields with lots of cows and horses roaming free with bells around their necks. It took me about an hour to make it to Aid 1 – Eth Orri, Ian was there waiting. I refilled bottles, ate some food quickly, and kept moving. The next part was very runnable, I felt like I ran all the way to the next aid station. I hit Aid 2 – Mongarri in 1:54:11. Ian was there too. Same deal, eat food fast, refill, go. After this there were some significant uphills, I put in my headphones and just zoned out and hiked. We reached the top, went down around the lake, and hit Aid 3 – Lac de Montoliu.
After this aid, we began an even more significant hike uphill. There were many areas of scrambling, steep drop offs, 70% grade. At one point during the pre-race briefing which was in Spanish (which we don’t speak), Ian and I were trying to figure out if the RD said this part of the race was “difficult” or did he say it was “not difficult”? Question answered, it’s difficult. We climbed to the highest point of the course and the highest point in Naut Aran, Tuc de Maubèrme at 9,449 feet! 🙂 This mountain is also so close to France that I believe we crossed into France for a bit on our way up.
I made it to the top, then had to go back down the way we came, which was tough with other runners coming up at us, but it was fine. I kept going, hit Aid 4 – Planheth deth Pas Estret and Aid 5 – Colrad of Varrados and then began another ascent to Tuc dera Pincéla, 8,353 feet. (also I told a bunch of people this race only went up to 7,500ft which I truly believed until writing this report and actually converting the meters to feet so.. I was blissfully unaware of the actual elevation :))
The Tuc dera Pincéla area was really cool, we got to run on some ridgelines which was amazing. After this I started the 4,583ft descent (who needs toenails anyway?) back to Salardu. On the descent there were some really amazing areas, fields covered in wildflowers and butterflies; we descended through a waterfall/river at one point, jumping from rock to rock to stay dry. Then finally, back to the town and done!
I couldn’t have been happier with how the race went or my preparation leading up to it. I felt really strong the whole time, everything that was runnable I ran, and I felt good after. I did the KV (vertical kilometer) the next day which was 3.5k and 950meters of climbing (2.1 miles, 3,116 ft.), then after that I was pretty wrecked :). My intention for the race was to have fun, and try to do my best, which I think I achieved.
What I ate:
Pre race – wheat bread, peanut butter, bananas, nutella, trish moves bar
During race – cliff shot blocks, honey stinger waffles, bananas, melons, crackers, almonds, dark chocolate, coca cola, gatorade, tailwind
Post race – beer, wine, all the things 🙂
What I wore: Saucony Peregrins, Injinji socks, Dirty girl gaiters, Nike shorts, Patagonia shirt, Zensah sports bra, 50 SPF sunscreen, USA buff, Nathan hat, Oakley sunglasses, Gamin watch
What was in my pack: Nathan VaporHowe with 1L of water (required), refillable bottles (required), whistle (required), Goretex rain jacket (required), emergency blanket (required), a bandaid, wet wipes, a sunscreen stick, my phone (required), 2 iPod minis & headphones, food (required).