Symonds "happy" with ultra debut

Posted in At the Races by Matt Ward on Tue 05 Oct '10


Andy Symonds out front at the Cavalls del Vent

Running at high-altitude in Spain over 85km is a lon way from ‘home’ from British fell runner Andy Symonds. After a highly successful Trans Alp a few weeks back it was time for Symonds to go it alone, as he set sail for his first attempt at ultra-trail running…


Here Andy re-tells his Spanish tale:

Ultra (painful!)

Well I will take a large chunk of the blame for this. I set off at a very steady pace, letting 4 runners get away on the first climb (I was slightly worried to see my heart pumping away in the mid 170′s and thought I’d better not let it get any higher). But then, after about 30k I caught the leaders, and for some unexplainable reason decided I’d just run straight past them and take the race by the scruff of the neck.

When you consider that the two guys I’d just past (Kilian Jornet & Miguel Heras) have proved themselves to be the best two Ultra runners in Europe this year, this was, in retrospect, a rather silly thing to do. However, I continued to cruise along the beautiful mountain trails at a pace which I thought was sustainable for a very long time. Unfortunately though, It turned out to be a pace which was sustainable for about 50k, which happens to be about the furthest I’ve ever run in my life also.

At 50k, when I wasn’t looking, someone removed my quadriceps, put them through an office shredder and put them back on my legs. It was a sudden transition from feeling awesome to being in a lot of pain indeed. Would I even finish? I persuaded myself that I could only have a few hours left to run (turned out to be 4 and a half) and grit my teeth. Kilian having dropped out by this stage, it was Miguel chasing me down. I managed to hold onto the lead for another 30ish km until there was only about 16k to go.


Ten miles, that’s not too far. But it a long way with 55 daggers in each leg. There was no way I could go with Heras when he passed me. He went on to win in 9hrs7, taking more than 40 minutes off his time from last year and 25 off the record. I hobbled in in about 9hrs23 in second. It was about another 45 minutes, the sun having set, before the next runner came in.

I have learnt a big lesson about Ultra Running here in Spain. I have to say, I’ll be giving the UTMB”: a bit more thought before launching into that. I have been slightly put off by yesterday’s experience, but I guess it’s all a question of pace judgement. And doing the training.

Some stats: 85km / 6100m climbing / approx 9hrs23 / heart ave = 149 / max = 180 / Calories = 5260 (all on Movescount) and if you’d like to practice your Spanish there’s quite a bit on the Spanish Salomon Running Facebook pages.

Results on the race website @ Cavalls del Vent.


Reactions so far
  1. malcolm Oct 5, 07:44 AM

    I would LOVE to see Andy to more of these races as he is well capable of running with the big boys, his humble and gracious approach is fantastic and good luck to him for the future.

  2. Jason Kehoe Oct 6, 02:48 AM

    “At 50k, when I wasn’t looking, someone removed my quadriceps, put them through an office shredder and put them back on my legs.”

    LOL! :D

    Wow, that sounds like a lot of pain! You’ve got to respect the distance!

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