Barcelona 24hr Track Race Report 2016 – Brief Summary (24 hores en pista Corredors.Cat – Barcelona)

 

Barcelona 24 hr 2016

British Contingent – Barcelona 24 hour 2016

 

Brief Summary

I arrived in Barcelona with my crew (wife Gill and in-laws, Kelvin and Collette) midday on the Friday and chilled out with fellow runners, as well as checking out the track.

Alas on the eve of this, my 24hr debut I had my third consecutive restless night, which meant hardly any sleep for three nights. This wasn’t good prep and concerned me greatly. Missing one nights sleep, even the night before, isn’t a show stopper, but the preceding two day’s too was a real problem and I knew it.

As it transpired I’m thankful and delighted to have hit my target of an auto-qualifier for Spartathlon by completing a total of 218.41km/135.6 miles and finishing 6th overall (4th male) My auto-qualification target for Sparta is based on the 20% better rule applied to the criteria ‘cover a distance of 180k in a 24 hour race’ Hence I needed at least 216 km for auto-qualification.

However, I know it was a lacklustre performance really. It could and should have been so much better for a number of reasons and had I had been on form I’m convinced I would have bad a better chance of getting closer to 240km.

I had to leave the track at least four times due to stomach issues and throwing up on one occasion, which really surprised me as I don’t usually suffer such issues. This cost me dearly of course and stomach issues continued to cramp my style for many miles.

Following some post race analysis and discussion with fellow runners I believe it may have been attributable to either my digestion struggling to cope due to the tiredness, the effect of the new track surface or unfamiliar nutrition. May be even a combination of all three of these factors.

 

Smiling in the face of Hell Pre-race

Smiling in the face of Hell Pre-race

 

Yes I was using nutrition I hadn’t before and I had forgotten my Tailwind but it seems that my body was struggling with anything I gave it. The end result meant that I simply couldn’t fuel properly resulting in a severely compromised performance and unusually for me my head going down, especially in the last third.

 

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Nevertheless, my amazing crew who supported me throughout were just brilliant!. So too were all those in the British camp including Drew Sheffield, Paul Katsiva-Corderoy, Paul Ali, Nathan Walsh, Simon Prytherch, Stu Wilkie, Roz Glover, Wendy Shaw, Katharine Ganly, Rich Cranswick, Ben Atkin, Simon Atkin, Claire Shelley and many others supporting from the sidelines.

Also, Irish friend Don Hannon who was ever present shouting and high fiving as we ground out the laps, the indefatigable Sam Kilpatrick who always had a smile on his face and Billy Holden who like the rest of us dug deep lap after lap.

Huge thanks to Robbie Britton for his motivational shouts, tips, cajoling and keeping me posted as I thought my target looked in jeopardy. Also for helping to source items of my kit as the night closed in.

My tired brain had defaulted to miles instead of km during the latter stages of the race after a misheard message, causing unneccessary stress for me and everyone as I thought my target was now beyond me. This wasn’t helped by the fact that the results/splits board had gone down!

I was touched by the kind gesture of fellow runners Natasha Farid, Gary House and Jay MacDonald for sharing some latter laps with me to keep my spirits up and the dream alive.

I of course had started fast again I’m told which I’m sure didn’t help either given my tiredness, so I paid a price for that too.  Bob Hearn (the master of pacing) commented that I had ran the first four hours at Kouros pace 😊 Not very sensible unless you are Yiannis Kouros.

In those early hours I was averaging two mins per laps, but inevitably slowed, hitting the 100 mile split in 16:47. A 100 mile PB for me but of little significance, given there were still seven hours of running to do.

The track really took a toll on my body too and far more than I expected. Many other runners said the same. My quads, hips and surprisingly my lower legs/ankles were all trashed. The latter is not usually a problem for me, so obviously a track/shoe combination effect.

Three days later and I’ve just recovered from the worst case of DOMS I’ve ever experienced and although my initial thoughts after this debut are that I never want to do a track 24hr again I understand I have earned a free entry to next years race based on finishing in the top 5 and attaining the required IAU Silver Label distance of at least 200km.

Thanks again to everyone who tracked, supported and helped me in any way and congrats of course to Grant MacDonald for a superb overall win and to anyone else who toed the line!

 

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Lessons Learned

Although unavoidable on this occasion, three consecutive nights without proper sleep undermined both my performance, my state of mind and my digestion, so I must try to ensure this doesn’t happen again!

Track/shoe choice combination possibly contributed to nausea I believe, as well as the worst case of DOMS I’ve ever experienced. Interestingly this was primarily in my lower legs and ankles, which is a first, so I need to review shoe choice for surfaces like Tartan tracks.

Try harder to up nutrition intake even if the body and mind are rebelling mid-race and stick with the familiar if at all possible.

Start slower than two minute laps and ensure to monitor progress by taking splits of the 400’s as I originally intended based on test run stats.

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4 Responses to Barcelona 24hr Track Race Report 2016 – Brief Summary (24 hores en pista Corredors.Cat – Barcelona)

  1. John Moore says:

    Looking from the outside, Ian, it’s hard to see this as the kind of failure that you present it as. Over 135 miles in 24 hours, and 6th place in the race? That’s pretty amazing, I (and I think most others) would say. I’m not surprised you ran into leg problems of a kind you’re unfamiliar with, though, doing all that distance on the same flat surface. The ups and downs and varied terrain of most ultras no doubt give problems of their own, but at least they’re working different sets of muscles. Hard one to practise for, though, I imagine!

    • ultraian says:

      Thanks John. Kind of you to say! Yes it is a hard one to practice for and it was unknown territory for me apart from 32 laps I did at UEA a week or so before to see if I had any adverse reaction to my achilles (as I once did) I expected I might get a problem somewhere, but what I didn’t expect was the impact of the surface on my ability to eat, drink or keep stuff down. I think it compounded the fact that I was very tired too before the race, so nausea got a hold some way in to the race.

      I’m really not beating myself up about it. Just being realistic. I achieved what I set out to with regard to the auto-qualifier for Spartathlon, but I know that I just couldn’t do myself justice on the day in terms of the mileage I know I should be able to hit. Lost a fair bit of time cumulatively due to nausea and may be the lack of nutrition is what also undermined my leg muscles.

      It was a learning exercise for sure too and I note that many first time 24hr track racers either have major issues or withdraw early. I immediately said I wouldn’t do one again but already I feel the call to finish one the way I believe I can. Incidentally went out for first recovery run with Gill tonight 😊 Thanks for the post John! Cheers Ian

  2. Pam Storey says:

    Now you know why I organise a 6 and 12 hour track race in April. It gives folk a chance to try out the surface, shoes nutrition etc in preparation for 24 hours (primarily Tooting Bec or maybe abroad). I think, under the circumstances, bearing in mind 3 sleepless nights, you did brilliantly. I would love to see you in my Crawley race!

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