On 25th January 2012, Billy and I headed over to Les Masses for our first competition of the year. Actually it was my first competition in 17 years! The course starts steeply right from the word go, and then levels off onto a false flat for the final 1/3 of the course up to Thyon. Knowing that it was going to be hard right from the start, Billy and I headed out for a decent warm up, climbing up the course. After 400m vertical of climbing we skied back down to the start line, getting there around 7 minutes before the start, which was ideal.
As it was my first ever ski mountaineering race and first race in a long time, I decided to start near the back of the field. There were around 60 competitors for the bunch start, and once the flag dropped, the course was a flurry of thrashing legs, skis and ski sticks! It’s interesting fighting for your space at the starts, and actually I should have started a bit further forwards as I spent the first 10 minutes weaving in an out of the people ahead in order to overtake.
When on the slightly less steep sections I was pleased to find I could ramp up the speed, and by the start of the false flat I’d got into the group that were going at the limit of my pace. Though you can see the buildings in Thyon from a way off, towards the end of the race, as the lactic acid builds I got the feeling I was never going to get to the finish! It drags on and on and on… Still, make it I did, and once in the outskirts of Thyon there were so many people cheering us on that it spurred us on to the finish line. I was surprised at how much this sort of atmosphere can lift performance when you think you’ve got nothing left.
So all in all an excellent race, which I completed in 34 mins 13.7 seconds. Billy cruised in in 27.45, coming second in our Vets category. He’s light years ahead of me, unreal.
After the race there was a pasta party in the Pinocchio restaurant in Thyon for much needed calories, then it was a nice ski back down the piste in the dark to the car. A great evening out and a good start to the competitive season.