Mixed Fortunes at Mallorca Kilometro vertical & K42
On Saturday 19th March I got my season underway at the Kilometro Vertical on my home from home, Mallorca. After missing several weeks with a calf tear I was really looking forward to racing again and there's nowhere better to start the season than the Tramontana. The race starts at Finca de Galatzó and finishes at the summit of Galatzó, 1000m above. Runners set off at 30 second intervals time trial style which makes things interesting as you have no idea how you've done until everyone has finished.
Unlike other VKM races, the first 2.5km of this race are fairly flat before you reach the start of the climb. I ran this section nice and steady to arrive at the foot of the climb as fresh as possible. The first section of climb is really runnable, a series of switchbacks climbing between the 2 main peaks in the area, Galatzó and S'esclop. Then you reach a really technical section, fairly flat but across really sharp rock and thigh high grass, it's a good chance to catch your breath before the trail kicks up again. The next section of the climb is 1of the most stunning kms of trail I've ever ran, a nice steady gradient of around 10% with views down to the Mediterranean Sea on the North of the island. I ran this section pretty hard just to gauge how my legs were feeling for the k42 the following day.
The final few kms are much harder, steeper and much more technical, with some hands on knees power hiking and some scrambling towards the summit but the views from the top are well worth the effort. I was really happy to win the race and with how I was feeling going into the following day's race.
Sunday was the K42 race in the same part of the island, the first half is very mountainous and technical followed by a much flatter and faster finish in the coastal town of Peguera. There are 3 main climbs, Galatzó, S'esclop and Ses planes before the dreaded torrent, 5k in a very rocky riverbed, then some easy trails and road sections to finish.
I knew that the main threats for this race would be Pau Bartolo who has won a lot of massive races like the CCC and Transgrancanaria and Manuel Anguita who had a great year in 2015 winning several high level ultras in Spain. Unlike most races I've ran in Spain the start to this one was really slow,a nice surprise as I hadn't had time for a warm up. We rolled out of Finca de Galatzó at a really easy pace and after a km or so Pau, Manuel and myself eased away from the field. By the time we arrived at the bottom of the climb I had a very small gap of 10 or 20 meters but as we started to climb the gap began to grow. I wasn't trying to open a gap at this stage but just running within myself with a really controlled effort. Unlike the previous day when the sun was making this section really hot we were climbing into fog which kept things a bit cooler and made things feel a little easier.
It wasn't until we had crossed the first technical section that the fog cleared and I could see back down the trail, Manuel and Pau were close together probably a minute behind. It wasn't the start I was expecting but that's racing! I just kept pushing on with a steady effort and eventually reached the summit with a 3 minute lead. The first section of the descent is back down the way you have just came so you are running into the oncoming runners. The overnight rain had made the rock really slippy so I was taking it very easy to avoid mistakes knowing that the next section was really safe and runnable. As I was approaching the end of the technical section another runner was coming towards me, head down, I pod on, completely oblivious to anyone around him. I was shouting trying to get his attention but he didn't hear me or see me until the last second then panicked, stepping right in front of me. The result was a slip, a badly twisted ankle and effectively race over. I tried to run it off but after another km it was obvious I couldn't continue. Really gutted considering the circumstances. Who knows how the rest of the race would've unfolded but I would've loved to have found out.
On the plus side, I was really happy with my form and the changes I have made in training are paying off for sure. The race was eventually won by Pau so at least it was another Compressport runner with Manuel taking 2nd. I'll be seeing a lot more of Manuel this summer at the Alpinultras series, it was first blood to him!
As always Mallorca was great. Massive thanks to Belén, Antonio, Borja, Antia, Angie, Xavi, Pau, Javi, Elena,Esther & all of the race officials and volunteers. Team Mallorca!!!!