Its been 5 days since I completed my eighth run in the 10 summits charity challenge event; Denali actually felt surprisingly easy in terms of distance and elevation gain. The heat however was another matter!
I started the run at 0600hrs on Saturday and due to the curfew still in place here in Spain I would need to do Denali over 2 days. The weather was perfect when I started, a little bit cloudy and pretty cool. That soon changed and by 0900hrs its was already getting pretty warm.
To say that I'm not great in the heat would be fair, I actually enjoy running when the suns out but only for a few easy miles; 29 degrees wares you down after a few hours.
However, I was there to do a job so I put my head down and cracked on. The vueltas seemed to pass quickly and before I knew it I'd completed 2000m of elevation; my plan for the day was to do 4000m.
By midday I was feeling very hot and very bothered, I'd taken in a good amount of fluids and my nutrition was bang on; the sun was relentless and with little shade on the vuelta there was no escape. By the time I'd reached 3700m of elevation I had decided enough was enough and that I would do the remaining 2500m tomorrow.
I was back at Torre de'l Aguillo by 0600 hrs the following morning and I set off about 06.20. The first 1000m went by pretty quickly, as did the next 1000m.
It was again a pretty hot day and the final 500m seemed to take an age!!
I was finished by 12 midday and apart from feeling hot i was in pretty good nick; no pain and no hot spots. I woke on Monday morning feeing like I hadn't even run over the weekend, I'm putting it down to the fact that I have recently started taking CBD oil, its either that or my body is adapting to running lots of elevation extremely well. Or perhaps both!
So that's Denali done! 78km and 6200m of elevation. Next up on the 15th of May is Aconcagua; 7000m and 94km.
I really hope that the weather is a little cooler for that one; although judging on the incredible weather we've had over the last few days its going to be hot!!
If you haven't read any of my previous blogs about the 10 summits challenge welcome to the story.
For those of you that have read previous updates thanks for taking a look at this one. Kilimanjaro was the objective for the weekend and it certainly didn't disappoint.
Mount Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano in Tanzania. It has three volcanic cones: Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. It is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest single free-standing mountain in the world: 5,895 metres above sea level and about 4,900 metres above its plateau base.
The plan was pretty simple really, wake up early, get out quickly and run for 14 hours until I reach the summit of Kilimanjaro.
Well, when I say the summit I mean the height of Kili above sea level in terms of positive elevation gain. This meant I'd be running around 77Km and 51 hill repeats of Torre de'l Aguilo near La Vila Joiosa on the Costa Blanca.
This challenge was a little different to the other 6 that I've done; this time I'd be running with the guys from the Ultra Running Family and the guys from Ultra Race Romania who were undertaking the same challenge over two days on the URR tracks in there own back yard.
A massive thank you goes out to Beatrice, Andrei and Daniel for being a part of this challenge and to all the members of the Ultra Running Family for their messages of support
Please check them out below
So in terms how the day went i have absolutely no complaints. I woke up around 4pm, I had some breakfast and coffee and headed off to Torre de'l Aguilo without any dramas. I started running at 06.20 and quickly began clocking up the distance and more importantly the elevation gain.
We changed the start position for this run back to the original place which meant each hill repeat was giving me 115m of elevation and 1.3km in terms of distance; the target for the day was to run all 51 hill repeats by 8pm
The first 2000m which I ran in 4hours 42 mins felt incredibly easy; the weather was cool and I was moving really, really well. At this point I thought getting it done in 14 hours was a certainty!
I set off on the next phase with a spring in my step joined by a few friends Sergio and Kiko. For the next few hours things went well, I was taking in nutrition and feeling relatively good. As I hit the 9 hour mark I began to feel a bit rubbish and by the time I reached 50Km and 4000m I was feeling pretty beaten up.
After 11 hours of running up and down the same hill I was beginning to question my sanity; bearing in mind that I'd run up the same hill over 170 times in the last 5 months. I sat down with a cup of tea for around 20 minutes, gathered my thoughts and read some messages from the guys in Romania. This gave me an incredible lift and the energy that I needed to get going again.
Unfortunately that burst of energy didn't last too long and within 45 minutes I began slowing down and the steep technical sections were becoming more and more challenging. I kept looking at my watch and thinking that I wasn't moving quickly enough to get the 5900m done by curfew at 10 o'clock.
7pm came and went and I still had around 1300m to go, I was suffering with cramps in my calf and my paced had slowed to a crawl, especially on the uphill.
I reached the 63km and 5000m just before 8pm and it was time to be honest with myself and accept that I was not going to do the full 5900m in one day. I certainly didn't want to get fined for breaking curfew and I didn't want make my calf any worse. We called it a day at 5000m and planned to return the next day to get the remaining 900m ticked off
I woke up relatively early on Sunday morning, had some breakfast, spoke to the guys in Romania who were out completing their route and I headed back out to Torre de'l Aguilo where I met up with Riera one of the guys from a local running club.
My plan was to take it easy and get the 8 remaining hill repeats done slowly but to be honest I felt really great so we decided to push it as much as we could. we kept a strong pace and managed to complete the final 900m needed to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro in 1 hour 50 mins.
Although this was without question the most difficult of the runs it was also the most rewarding. Knowing that there's people out there running with me in support of Centro Doble Amor is just amazing and In some ways it restores my faith in the world. The messages of support received during and after the day from the Ultra Running Family were truly amazing!!
So what's next?
Next up is Denali which will be on May the 2nd and potentially the 3rd. The curfew in Spain will still be in place and being realistic I don't think I'll do the 6200m in 16 hours
Finally I'd like to thank the guys from Regidoria d'Esports La Vila Joiosa, La_vilasalut, The Trail Events Company, Ultra Running Family, Ultra Race Romania, Cosmopolitan Spa & Fitness Club Alicante
I'd also like to thank Eva who has put in hours of work behind the scenes organising fundraising, nutrition, aid stations and for keeping me focused when perhaps I haven't been.
I couldn't do these things without you Eva so thank you from the bottom of my heart!
With just over a week to go until I take on my next challenge I thought I'd let you guys know how my most recent training block has gone and my thoughts and feelings for what lays ahead.
Up until a week or so ago I was feeling super strong and super motivated for Kilimanjaro: right now I'm feeling a little broken!
My training block has gone well but the accumulation of kilometres and height gain is beginning to take its toll on my body and mind. Last week consisted of a 30Km run on Saturday which included the Vertical Kilometre on Puig Campana, 2 days of 50km bike rides, the Costa Blanca 3 peaks on Wednesday; which included the VK1 again and a 52km on the Friday.
This week has been a little less intense with 3 half marathons and 2500m of elevation. I have 2 runs left which will give me an additional 40Km and 2000m of elevation; then I rest until Kilimanjaro on the 17th of April
So how do I feel about Kilimanjaro?
I'd be lying if I said that I was looking forward to it! but I guess that's a combination of nerves and perhaps a bit of tiredness. I tend to get nervous before these challenges but find the closer I get to the day the more settled I feel. By the time the actual day gets here I am filled with anticipation and normally I'm raring to go!
So how am I going to approach Kilimanjaro?
I have to run 51 hill repeats of a local hill that gives me 115m of elevation each rep. This equates to 77km which I reckon will take me 16 hours; this means that I need to gain 370m an hour for 16 hours to achieve the required elevation to reach the summit.
On previous challenges I found myself going out a little to quick so the plan for this one is to go a little easier and focus achieving the 370m rather than pushing the pace.
The most important factor - The Weather
We all love running with the sun on our backs right? yeah of course we do! The other day the temperature hit 28 degrees and I really struggled with my energy levels; running in the heat is something that takes time to get used to and it would be safe to say that I'm much happier when its a little cooler.
So what does the forecast say?
Its probably a little too soon to be 100% reliable but the forecast for the 17th is for sunny spells and 17 degrees; if it turns out to be like this I'd be super happy!
Obviously the temperatures are going to begin warming up soon and I'll need to get used to running in the heat in terms of preparing for my Everesting attempt in June.
So what comes after Kilimanjaro?
After Kilimanjaro I'll have 2 weeks to prepare for Denali and then 2 weeks after Denali I'll be taking on Aconcagua. The plan is to stay off my feet as much as possible between theses two challenges and just use the bike for recovery and a small building phase. I'll also do lots of stretching, meditation and yoga. And lots of eating!!!
If you had told me a week before this challenge that I'd be running in temperatures of 6 degrees on the Costa Blanca in March I would have said you were mad.
As it happens it turned out to be true. The week previous the weather was incredible, temps of 20 degrees with light winds and a little bit of cloud cover to shade you from the sun; perfect running conditions. Fast forward and we have a different story. We even had snow on Aitana and Puig Campana
So the alarm goes off at 0400hrs on Saturday morning and I jump out of bed feeling great, I have a bit of breakfast and a cup of tea and I begin loading the car ready to make a move to Torre d'el Auguilo.. My plan is to start the run at 0630, I manage to get going a little early and press start on my watch at 0620.
The first 10 reps go without a hitch, I'm making good time and I'm feeling pretty strong. I get to around 15 reps which is close to 30KM and 2200m of elevation and I begin feeling not so good. My stomach is doing summersaults and I feel nauseas; luckily this passes after about an hour or so and I'm back feeling strong.
I continue to tick off the reps in sets of three. Every 3 reps gives me 390m of elevation and around 6km of distance;; I get to around 3500m of elevation and my legs are cramping, its freezing (for the Costa Blanca) and I'm beginning to slow down.
This is when I realise that it was a mistake to change the start to the bottom of the car park, the extra 500m of distance per rep is really beginning to take its toll on me. Its 5pm and I've done 28 reps; in my head I should have run 45km but I'm close to running 60km. all this extra distance for 300m?? That's what you call a school boy error!!!
At this point it is clear to me that I am not going to complete the challenge in the allocated 12 hours; i could stay out and get it done but after speaking with Eva and the team we decide to cut off as planned at 6.30pm.
I am definitely a little disappointed to have not completed the whole challenge in one day but sometimes it just doesn't go your way!
Sunday morning and were back at Torre d'el Aguilo to get the remaining height gain to complete the Mt.Elbrus challenge. We need another 1261m to tick it off.
The weather this morning is a million miles away from where it was yesterday; overnight the wind has changed and we're back to temps of 20 degrees. It actually feels warm in comparison to the day before.
We decide to start at the original place this morning so each rep is 1.5km with 116m of elevation. I set off on the first 4 reps accompanied by my good friend Sergio; we're moving really well and we get the first 4 done in less than an hour.
We stop for a short break after the first 4 and then we head off on rep number 5. On rep number 6 I begin to feel fatigued and my legs are beginning to scream on the way back down; going up is great but OMG the descents are horrible!
We continue to tick off reps 7, 8 & 9, i get a second wind and i feel good. We're joined by a few other guys from the team and the end is in sight.
So what did I learn on this challenge?
Plan, plan and plan again! then check your plan. The extra distance really broke me, but to be honest I only have myself to blame!
So my next challenge will start and finish at the original place; I'll being running Kilimanjaro on the 17th of April and this time I will benefit from an extra hour of day light and fingers crossed warmer temperatures.
Kilimanjaro is 5896m above sea level which means I will need to run up and down Torre del Aguilo 51 times to achieve the required height gain..
But know its time to rest for a few days!!
Its been a few weeks now since my last challenge which was Mt. Vinson, my training for the next challenge has been going well but with only 10 days to go I am beginning to feel a little nervous.
If the truth be told I probably haven't got anything to feel nervous about but its just the way I am. I tend to always get nervous before a big race or a big challenge.
I guess the important thing for me is to focus on the process and not to get too carried away with thinking about the end result. I believe in my systems and as I said above my training has been good.
So what is the next challenge?
The next and 6th challenge within the 10 summits series is Mt. Elbrus. Elbrus stands at 5642m above sea level and is the tallest mountain in Russia and Europe. Elbrus is the 3rd summit of the 7 summits and with out doubt it will be the toughest challenge to date.
The run will see me complete 45 hill repeats of Torre d'el Aguillo which if you have read my previous blogs you'll know is a local beauty spot between La Vila and Benidorm. The hill gives me 125m of elevation and 1.5km in terms of distance.
I've made a slight change to the route for Elbrus which will see me go straight up and straight down rather than run loops or vueltas. The route change means that I run fewer km with the route is steeper and less technical than the looped route.
So as most of you know I am doing these challenges to raise funds for a local occupation centre called Centro Doble Amor.
So far we have raised over 1000 euros which is absolutely incredible. We set a target at the beginning of 2500 euros and with 3 months left until my final run, which will be Everest we are confident that we can achieve the target.
The Images below give you an idea of just how big a challenge this is going to be!
After Mt Elbrus I'll take a week or so to rest the knees before I begin training for the next 2 challenges that will be in April. Kilimanjaro and Denali await, followed by Aconcagua in May and Everest in June .
I hope that you're enjoying my rambling on about running up and down a hill, I'll post something after Elbrus to let you know how it went.
Well the Mt.Vinson challenge is behind me and as I sit here writing this I am already looking forward to my next run for charity which will be Mt. Elbrus on March 20.
So this weekend I ran 65KM with 4895m of elevation by running up and down a local hill between Benidorm and La Vila Joiosa on the Costa Blanca. The reason I am running this series of challenges is to raise money for an occupational centre called Centro Doble Amor.
Centro Doble Amor provide support and purpose to adults with physical, emotional and intellectual disabilities; I have been fortunate enough to meet a lot of the guys who attend the centre and each time i meet them they inspire me!
As with the previous challenge this one had to be split over 2 days due the current COVID 19 restrictions we're experiencing here in the region of Valencia. This weekend I decided to split the days into one long day and one shorter day; on the last challenge I kept it simple and did two equal days.
On Saturday I ran 45km and 3253m of positive elevation and on Sunday I ran 20km with 1645m of height gain.
On Saturday I decided to run laps or vueltas of Torre d'el Aguillo, completing 26 laps in 7 hours 53 mins. When I started the weather was perfect for running on the Costa Blanca; it was a little cloudy with a light breeze. This changed by 10am when the sun puts its hat on and came out to play.
With the arrival of "el sol" came increased temperatures. Although I have become more accustomed to running in warm temperatures I am a welsh boy through and through and running in the heat really takes it out of me.
On Sunday I changed it up a little by taking a more direct route which is a little steeper with less distance and slightly less elevation gain.
I felt great on Sunday and seemed to be eating up the repeats with relative ease; well maybe not ease but I certainly felt strong.
The weather remained cool all morning which I think made a big difference to how I was running compared to the Saturday.
I completed the 14 hill repeats, 20km and 1645 in 3hours and 20 minutes; which I was pretty pleased with to be honest.
So what's next? Next up is Mt.Elbrus which I will be doing on Saturday 20th of March. I am hopefully that the restrictions will have eased here in Valencia which will mean that I'll be able to get this challenge ticked off in one single run and not split over 2 days.
Mt. Elbrus stands at 5642m above sea level which means to get this one done I will need to run 45 vueltas and 84km.
I'll be taking a few days off now and resting before I start preparing for Elbrus in March. Thank you to everyone who has donated, liked and shared posts. Thank you to everyone who comments and thank you to all my contributors; i really couldn't do this without your ongoing support.
So what is the .10 summits challenge you ask? Well its simple really; I run the elevation gain of the 7 highest summits on the 7 continents and I added 3 local summits to round it up to 10.
Why? well again its pretty simple. I am doing this to raise money for a local occupational centre close to the town in which I live.
I started this challenge back in September 2020 with the highest mountain in the region of Alicante; this meant that I had to run 23km with 1557m of positive elevation. I did it by running up and down a local hill 12 times, which was pretty straightforward to be honest.
The next challenge saw me tale on the highest mountain in the region of Valencia which stands at 1838m above sea level; again it was pretty easy going. I then ran Mt. Teide which is the highest mountain in Spain. This was a different story!! This was actually pretty hard. This challenge meant that I had to run 54km with 3718m of positive elevation; this equated to 30 repeats of the same hill...
The day began pretty well but after about 2 hours i was feeling a little peaking and unable to take in any food. my stomach was doing summersaults and the only thing I felt like doing was stopping. 12 hours later i completed the last repeat completely and utterly exhausted.
Challenge number 4 was again a jump up with 70km covered and 4884 meters of elevation. This challenge took me out of Spain for virtual ascent of the highest mountain in Oceania which is the Cartensz Pyramid.
Unfortunately due to COVID 19 restrictions here in Spain I had to split the challenge into 2 separate runs; this meant running 37km on the Saturday with 2500m of height gain and 33km on Sunday with 2392m of height gain. On Saturday the temperatures were around 25 degrees which was pretty hot for February; the last 3 repeats were tough as I developed cramps in my left thigh and couldn't shift them. Sunday on the other hand was a lot cooler and the run went perfectly to plan with no issues.
The next challenge is planned for February 20th where we move to Mt. Vinson in Antarctica. Mt. Vinson stands at 4897m ASL which is again 70km and 40 repeats of Torre de'l Aguill0.