mercoledì 5 ottobre 2016

Getting ready for the Grand Raid de La Reunion - La Diagonale des Fous 20-23 October 2016

In a few days, on Tuesday 18th, I’ll be flying to La Reunion, via Paris Orly, to take part to the 2016 edition of Le Grand Raid a 163km and 9700m D+ Ultra Trail part of the Ultra Trail World Tour, i.e. UTWT.

The responsible of the Event Communication Team proudly describes La Reunion Island as an exotic island like no other, with the very best of what the world has to offer, all concentrated on one island!

Across a surface area of only 2500km2, Reunion boasts a stunning array of untamed natural habitats and authentic cultures. With 40% of the island classified as a Unesco world heritage site, an impossible dream is suddenly made possible: to see the best of the world in just a few days.

During the very first minutes here, you’ll already feel the extraordinary variety of the different cultures living on the island in perfect harmony: from Asian cuisine to Creole marketplaces, along with Buddhist, Tamil or Christian traditions.

In just a few hours, you will be able to go from the vast and desertic lunar landscapes of the volcano to the lagoon in Ermitage. And then from the blue of the lagoon to the lush greens of the breathtaking mountain cirques.

In just a few days, you will have experienced such an exceptional variety of places and emotions, thanks to unique island: Reunion Island.

First feeling is: am I losing too much running for 66 hours rather than doing the usual touristic tours?
Not sure, the Grand Raid cuts the Island from South to North. It allows the runners to see the most beautiful landscapes, far away from any road and touristic tour.
Maybe, or for sure, I will not be able to enjoy the beaches and the seaside, this is due to my very demanding time schedule. Just to give you an idea, I’ll be out of Italy for 6 nights arranged as follows:
Night 1, on the plane. Night 2, in a luxurious, at least I hope so if reality is aligned to pictures seen on the web-site, hotel with access to the nearby beach. Nights 3 to 5, running if legs allow. Night 6, on the plane back to France.
It sounds relaxing, doesn’t it? However, I will do my best to spend the only and unique “holiday morning”, before the Wednesday 20th , 10 p.m. start, on the beach, swimming and why not, maybe scuba diving! You can think I’m crazy, but I remember when my son was with me in Chamonix, before the 2010 UTMB, and the very same morning of the start he took me to a crazy Rafting Adventure in the Chamonix Valley River. I survived, both Rafting and the UTMB! So, this time we will take with us our PADI licences, then we will see.

By the way, how and what to pack is the real time consuming activity in these days. We will fly with hand-baggage only. This is allowed by the warm and mild temperatures we are sure to find in beautiful La Reunion! Before and during the Grand Raid.
I will run the Diagonal des Fous with a 5 litres backpack, maybe the same old one of the latest UTMB, maybe a brand new! With the due experience and in depth Weather Forecast analysis, in Chamonix it was possible to pack all the compulsory material and just few additional accessories. In La Reunion weather should be even better, so I’m expecting to be able to use the same backpack. Of course, I will take with me, in addition to the “must have”, my super light raining jacket, a spare t-shirt and one additional pair of socks. Then, of course two front lamps and spare batteries for both. Not yet sure if and how I will use my GPS, maybe at night only. This is due to the 66-hour time limit that would make it possible with a fast recharging station in the middle of the Grand raid or with two GS, quite an expensive solution. The alternative is always the one of the Marathon des Sables, a light small plastic essential Swatch! Two bottles will also be preferred to the hidden Water Camel Bag, that is always empty when you need it and always with still too much water after the Arrival, no way! A bit tricky, but very convenient are the two bags at the two main Aid Stations at km 68 and km 125. I believe these will be a replica of what I have with me at the start: 2 t-shirts, two pair of socks, one short trouser, food/gel, spare glasses, spare cap, spare buff and batteries. I may add a pair of gloves and a rain jacket. All the remaining stuff must be placed in the third bag I will find after the Arrival…close to the Airport located in the north of the Island.

What else? It was very difficult to find someone in Italy that had already run the Grand Raid de La Reunion, a.k.a. La Diagonale des Fous, from one I learnt to bring with me the rain jacket and some additional cover for the nights that might be wet and cold, from the second, to focus of the front lamps. No more than this. So, I hope these notes may be of help, however be sure that when back, I will as usual be available should anybody ask for help or advice.

Yes ok, Training is missing. How am I training? Dears, I have been training tough all last winter week-ends, with epic ski mountaineering adventures, I run few Trails and just few weeks ago I finished the UTMB…so, not very much training for me in the seven weeks interval between UTMB and Diagonale des Fous! Three times with my Road bike, and very poor performances, just one Mountain Athletics training in Milan, one great long week-end in the Swiss Mountains Climbing and Mountaneering and few relaxing runs in Val Veny and Val Ferret, and dulcis in fundo three Yoga sessions, that’s all folks.