I'm a woman

I'm a woman
Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
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Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Valdigne mountain race, by Stevie slow-feet Haston.

The Coumayeur Trailers club of runners organise only a few races a year, but they are humdingers. As their name suggests they are based around Courmayeur and the Valdigne takes its name from the upper Aosta valley in Northen Italy were I am based at the moment. Last year the Trailers ran a short Valdigne of 49 and a long of 87 kilometres, with the appropriate amount of up and down. This year the short is 25, a medium of 55 with 3670 up and down, and a long of 100km with 5000 + of up and down. I tried a bit of the long today as it seems pretty tough and the high pastures are nearly free of snow. I ran out of Morgex the start and through some pleasant traditional Aostan villages to some flower meadows before a big big climb into the hills. I stopped at a hameau of very old farm buildings to fill my bottle and admire the traditional construction of these three story houses. First floor animals, second floor family, third floor hay, no satellite dishes, but a few painted murals on barn walls and buildings from the17th century. Any way I got going again and promptly got lost and found myself struggling up fifty degree pine needles, ant mounds, and fallen trees, I wanted to give up but luckily didn’t because after a hard hour I burst onto a grassy ridge with a 360 degree panorama of snow covered peaks. Wow, a carpet of flowers in short grass made perfect running back onto the real line and I was off again on a slowly rising traverse to a high col at 2600 meters. It was very fresh in and out of melting snow patches and I rapidly got very tired but it was well worth it. I did a bit down the other side but took a long glissade and called it good turning around and reversed my route.  Getting lost again on the way down through exhaustion or stupidity I found myself on a trail helpfully called L' Homme et La pente. They have a wicked sense of humour here so I knew this was a sadistic joke. Very steep, a quad killer, a thigh assassin, an annihilator of the hip girdle, it went on and on. After 1600 meters of descent I ended back in the valley and ran 20kms home with a couple of little ups. And here is the final cream of the jest, 2 kms from home a friendly guy in overalls decided I was looking so cooked that he would jog with me! He was a strong runner and insisting I should keep it up, so I tried to speed up, he also insisted in yabbering on in Italian, so I stuttered a spluttered back in tired French. He finally left me in a steaming heap on my doorstep with a final pat on the back which lifted me back up. Thanks Georgio! This was about the Valdigne so to continue it looks great, I have done nearly all of it and it looks like a beast, they predict under 13hrs, but good luck its very tough and the ascents and descents are gigantic for folks not used to the big hills. There are still places left I think so if you have the quads go for it, I’ll be there.  
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