Trail Running World Championships
15th November 2022

Categories: Trail Race

After skipping a year and then being delayed due to Covid, the Trail World Championships was finally happening again. Taking place in the autumn and held in Thailand this was set to be a very different race than in 2019. Hot, humid, jungle trails with a course profile that either climbed or descended featuring no undulating trails at all.

This was the first time that the Mountain World Championships would be ‘combined’ with the Trail World Championships. Resulting in 4 separate races; uphill, up & down, 40km and 80km. I was in for the ‘short’ trail course which turned out to be 38km with around 2500m of climb. Looking at the profile it seemed that the two main 1000m climbs would be pretty gradual…in reality they were much steeper than expected.

Arriving a week before to try and acclimatise to the heat I completed the final workouts on the course. I neither felt like my shape was electric or completely crap, so figured I had half a chance at performing well. The crux of the course was the 9km dirt road descent that led directly into the second 1000m climb. Being such a smooth runnable downhill I could see this ruining many peoples legs for the rest of the race, I just hoped I wouldn’t be one of them.

The start was controlled enough but it didn’t take long for Stian to charge off ahead. Climbing is his strength, and we would be going uphill for the first hour, so it wasn’t surprising he was looking strong. 3km from the top and nearly a minute behind I was in the chasing group. The gradient got a little less steep and Francesco Puppi took over pacing kicking it up a gear. Scarily by the time we reached the top we had caught Stian.

Minus a few matches but feeling okay we started the long gradual descent. Max King kicked putting 100m into the group but came back once it got a little steeper. After what felt like no time at all we reached the bottom and had held 30-minute 10km pace all the way down.

Now was the moment of truth, how would it be to start climbing again? Taking too long to fill my water bottle I lost touch with the group but it didn’t matter. Stian, Max, and Francesco were all looking strong and it soon became clear that I didn’t have much in the tank. Faced again with a 1000m+ sustained ascent there was no mercy and I settled into painfully grinding out the climb.

After what felt like an age, I once again reached the top. In fourth, there was no sign of Francesco and Stian but I could see Max who was 40-50 seconds in front. I caught him on the first of the two small climbs on this final downhill.

Now in third I continued to push but the tank had long since been empty. Finally reaching the bottom I could see Puppi a way out in front and knew there was no catching him. The team competition was calculated of finishing times though, so I tried to keep some sort of throttle down to the line.

Finally finished, the final obstacle was to try and rehydrate enough to pee in a cup for the drug test…a task that took us all some time. Not the race I wanted to have but then all things considered I think I deserved 3rd, Puppi seemed to deserve second and Stian definitely deserved to win. My 2022 season is now over and I am definitely looking forward to getting back to some base training, skiing and preparation for 2023.

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