British fell and mountain international Andy Symonds has made an amazing return to racing after almost a year of injury. On Sunday the Scots exile took a great victory at one of France’s great races, the 71km La Grande Course des Templiers
Now living in France with his wife and young family, Andy has battled serious ITB issues over the last year or so and after a tough return race at the Cavalls del Vent in Spain a couple of weeks ago, he had a dream day in this classic French event.
Andy tells his story here:
“It’s the first time a Brit has won the Templiers.
“I really did think that training had gone pretty well the last month or so, but having done no racing for a year i did’t have anything to gauge my current state of fitness on, so I really ran the race at my own pace and enjoyed it all the way through.
“The first two hours were in the dark and largely on large forest tracks, but it was a bit of a novelty for me running at a decent pace through the forests in a peleton of twenty or so runners.
“After the first aid station the group split (mainly due to a semi technical decent down to it) and I settled in in the top five or six, gradually working my way through, meanwhile the two favorites (previous winners) Thiery and Thomas seemed to be having a bit of a battle between themselves, and subsequently pulling away from the field.
“I was a little surprised to find them come back to me so easily and when I finally caught them on the climb to the third aid station with less than 20 km to go they seemed to have slowed big time and I was still feeling super fresh.
“Fully aware that legs can suddenly fall to pieces in the later stages of ultra races, often without warning, I cautiously sat behind Thomas and Thiery for a few km until I couldn’t hold back my desire to go faster any more and left them on the last bit of the climb just after the aid station.
“Originally I thought my main chances of getting a good gap would be on the last technical sections and the downhills, so to be pulling away in the runnable climbs filled me with confidence and I subsequently let loose, opened up my stride and just about held it togetheru till the end. I say just because by the top of the very last steep climb I really was reduced to a crawl, but by then I knew I had several minutes advantage and just had to drop down to Millau to clench it.
“I knew I would have judged my efforts over the 45 miles perfectly if I was only really suffering on the the last climb, so it was a good feeling to be hurting now.
“Super chuffed with the result, especially as this is the my first real race in over a year, having been out with my itb problem. It’s a nice introduction for me into the French trail running circuit as well, something I’ll be seeing a lot more of over the next few years…”
Welcome back Andy!
Men’s top 10
1. Andy Symonds – Team Salomon International -06:33:58.
2 = Thierry Breuil – Team Adidas / Thomas Lorblanchet – Team Salomon – 06:45:10.
4. Fabien Antolinos – Team Running Conseil – 06:48:31.
5. Martin Reyt – Team Platinium Sigvaris – 06:52:14.
6. François D’Haene – Team Salomon – 06:56:39.
7. Ludovic Pommeret – Team Koka Altecsport – 07:05:41.
8. Nicolas Martin – Cornillon en Trièves – 07:07:12.
9. Emmanuel Gault – Team Asics France – 07:11:27.
10. David Pasquio – Team Salomon – 07:12:03.