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Alternate Distances: 70KM/43M
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Elevation: Very little change < 500 metres. Benign running terrain, not technical.
Suitable for: First ultra runners completing a marathon or doing regular long distance running in the last six months.
Elevation: Increase of up to 1000 metres
Suitable for: Runners who have completed at least one ultra distance race (or similar event) or are doing long distance running (>26 miles) regularly, with elevation shown.
Elevation: Increase of up to 1500 metres
Suitable for: Runners who have completed several ultra distances or similar events, or are doing long distance running regularly, with elevation shown.
Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with some challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity or heat) and or technical terrain
Suitable for: Experienced runners who have completed at least regular ultra distances in last 12 months, or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races may be subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements.
Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with very challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity, heat or at high altitude) and or technical terrain.
Suitable for: Very experienced long distance ultra runners (min 3 years’ experience) or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races is often subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Purchase of specialist kit is often recommended for these races.
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I was stood at the back of the start line for the UTBCN with no expectations other than to start and as we left 'Begues' (a small town jus outside Barcelona) I felt no fear because I really hadn't looked too closely at what I was about to do. The rainstorm the previous night had meant a complete reworking of my race day kit so I didn't feel nearly as well prepared as I could have been but once I reached the trails this was a bone rattling humdinger of a race.From the off it was uphill, downhill but sadly nothing in her lady's chamber! The UTBCN felt like there were no flat sections, you were either going up or you were going down and that was were the fun was to be had.Over the 100km course there was nearly 5000 metres of upward elevation and it felt like it! The nice thing was though that the elevation came on such a variety of surfaces, there was mud, gravel trail, technical rocky trail, great big wet sections for that full foot dunking and even some tarmac (for those who like it simple). Each of the climbs brought with it a unique view, a need to adapt your running style and a reminder to keep your wits about you. Sadly the bad weather disappeared and the UTBCN quickly warmed up to a something more akin to a summer ultra I'd opted for heavier summer weight kit and carrying spares of almost everything as I expected to be out anything up to 24hrs and wasn't sure how quickly I could get through the unknown terrain. With the change in weather though my pack simply felt like a drain on my own reserves. However, I kicked on and passed through the halfway point with a 'yeehaa' in less than 8 hours - not fast but steady.Throwing caution to the wind (and using the new cooler temperatures to pick up my pace) I leapt into the second half with a great aplomb and hurtled through the kilometres looking to make up as much ground on the course before nightfall set in.At about 68km the sun dipped behind the beautiful northern Spain landscape and I was in the dark and here my problems grew. At the start line about 10.5hrs earlier my brand new head torch had died, new batteries wouldn't solve it and nor would prayer. So I placed my backup head torch on (Petzl e-lite) and gingerly made my way through to the next checkpoint. Sadly I could barely see a metre ahead of me and the trail was even more dangerous in the dark than it was in the sunshine, over the 4km I ran in the dark I stumbled a dozen times. I tried following the light of other runners but this was of no use (and I couldn't really do that for the final 28km) and so at 72km I sat at the checkpoint raging at my head torch manufacturer and at myself for I knew I had to pull out. I sat at the checkpoint for about 20 minutes before I was willing to DNF racking my brain for a solution, attempting to get my main light working but it wasn't to be.A very sad end to a great race that I was actually running well!As for the race itself well that was beautiful, with stunningly lush landscapes in all directions. It took you high above Barcelona and it took you down to the beach, what more could you ask for?The course itself was absolutely brutal in places and highly runnable in others, i think it's fair to say it lends itself to local runners or mountain goats who know what to expect but any decent trail runner would really enjoy the magic of this race. The organisation was, I found, superb with multi lingual checkpoint staff, aid stations were well stocked and tasty, very easy number collection and a lovely goody bag for competitors. It felt like a very inclusive race and drew people from all over the world and it wouldn't surprise me if they, like me, would be very happy to go back and run this again. This is a great event and if you looking for an easy to reach, tough as old boots Ultra in nearby Europe then this should be high on your list.
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