Honte

Depuis quelques jours voire semaines, j’ai honte d’etre francais. Non pas que je sois un amoureux et defenseur du pays du fromage et du bon pinard, mais il me semblait jusqu’a present que la nation d’ou je viens reposait sur des valeurs et des principes fondateurs. Pas besoin de longs discours philosophiques mais il semblait jusqu’a present que les libertes individuelles et la protection de la vie privee faisaient parti de ces concepts importants.

Les recentes lois liberticides qui sont passees font simplement honte a notre pays. Certes, ce n’est pas la premiere fois que de telles lois passent (rappelons-nous DADVSI et le cirque que cela avait genere a l’Assemblee – j’etais dans les locaux a l’epoque) et cette fois-ci, c’est au tour de l’opposition de porter atteinte a votre vie privee. Certes, dans le fond, ceci n’est guere surprenant. Mais en etre conscient et voir un tel projet se realiser est different et au final, ne laisse que peu d’espoir quant la protection de nos libertes. La tendance est a imposer, dicter a autrui ce qu’il doit faire. Fini l’originalite, les idees qui vont au dela des frontieres definies par la police de la pensee.

Cela devient meme pire: les personnes qui sont legitimement elues transforment les droits en devoirs et si vous aviez hier la liberte de voter pour les personnes qui vous dirigent, certains pensent a vous imposer un choix. Encore quelques annees et demain, nous serons proche des ideologies des dictatures que nous avons critique jusqu’a present.

J’ai beau ne pas vouloir revenir sur les terres gauloises, mais voir le pays ou j’ai grandi etre ainsi transforme dans une quasi indifference generale me fait honte. Depuis quelques jours, j’ai juste honte d’etre francais.

Pre-Race Nutrition Matters: Forget the PR – Mohican 50K Race Report

Why did I signed up for this race again? This was supposed to be a fun week-end: my birthday was the day after the race and at that time of the year, the weather is usually better than ever. So, why not going outside and explore the nature rather than going in a bar and drink for hours? Forget the PR 50K is known to be challenging, with a lot of hills and some root climbing. But it is also known to be a lot of fun and the event is sold out within a few days. So, it was the perfect activity for this special week end. After long hesitation (of about 3 seconds), I signed up. I was ready to hit the trails again.

On another note, this race was my first trail race after being injured. Sure, I was able to run a marathon a month ago but it was totally flat. Going for an ultra is a completely different story and mindset. On top of that, the last weeks have been very though, either physically or mentally. It will be interesting to see how it impacts the overall race experience.

 

Gasp, it's high!

Gasp, it’s high!

Pre Race

I booked a room at the Blackfork Inn Bed & Breakfast. This is a local and lovely business, it sounds like a nice place to stay before the race. I arrived on Friday afternoon, just the time to rest, go to the pre-race pasta party/dinner and be ready. Even if I do not believe in carb-loading, going to the pasta-party for the race is a nice way to meet other runners and honestly, some have fantastic stories (special thoughts for the girl that ran 60+ miles and ended up by using a Bobcat to find her car during the night, I am sure she will recognize herself!).

I did not plan or prepare the race in terms of nutrition. As life was unpredictable since a month, my nutrition plan was totally driven by food cravings. One day, I could eat almost nothing (one peanut butter sandwich) and eating a full 5-cheese pizza pie the next day. And yes, of course, I ran after eating the pizza because “Dude, you have to be used to that”. On top of that, because of many commitments, I was not able to get more than 5 hours of sleep the week before the race – which is probably the most important aspect. So, to overcome the lack of sleep, this was time to sleep early and go to bed at 8pm to make sure I can get some sleep before race day. Better than nothing.

It turned out that the folks at the Blackfork Inn are fabulous hosts, friendly and give a good service. While I initially planned to request a bagel with peanut butter, the owner told me he will wake up at 5am and make me pancakes with eggs because “you’ll need energy to run on the trails”. The full breakfast, the one that will make you miserable half-way and makes you puke. While I have many doubts about the specific pre-race nutrition knowledge of my host, it is hard to refuse such an invitation. So, I decided to be adventurous and try the full breakfast service before the race. A full stack (3) of pancakes, eggs and of course everything topped with syrup and peanut butter. Such a pre-race meal ensures that sugar will flow into your veins as chemical flows into the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh. Lovely. After this breakfast, I was ready to sleep go and head to the bathroom packet pick up.

When getting in the car, I just have one though in mind: this race is going to be interesting but probably not so fun.

 

Forget the PR 50K - 2015 edition map

Forget the PR 50K – 2015 edition map

 

Race

The race starts at 0730am. For this 2015 edition, the weather was terrific: slightly cold at the start and getting warmer during the day. You cannot expect better conditions. Before starting, the race director gave some indications about course changes. Basically, as it rained a lot the days before the race, the course has been changed for safety reasons. Instead of doing the usual course, we were expected to make more or less two loops of the course (except the dam loop – we did it once). As I am not half-stupid (and rather totally stupid), I missed all the information about the changes. I did not know exactly what flags to look for but I knew that I would eventually make it to the finish.

The race is about 31 miles with more than 5000 feet of elevation (5631 to be precise). The map and the elevation profile of this 2015 are shown below. If you are looking for complete information about this route, you can find the mapmyrun map and data here.

Elevation Profile

Elevation Profile

 

Video by Travis Lloyd – good overview of the race

The race starts with some hills and then continues on “big has hill”. At that time (about 3 miles), the pancakes (or the peanut butter, who knows) decided to remind me how delicious my breakfast was. An unexpected internal war between my brain, my stomach and the willingness to throw up starts in the middle of the hill. Going on this steep hill, my heart rate increased significantly. I felt I was about to faint, stop, walk on the side and eventually continue to the top. Great. I did not remember how I made it to the top. But I made it, and this is what matters.

675

During the Dam loop – Picture from Nick Longworth

These hills are quite challenging but once you pass them, the elevation is reasonable. On the other hand, the route is technical: lot of roots and rocks.After a while, you hit the first aid-station. I was not very hungry but knew that I needed to take something. There was something I never tried called energy bites (recipe below) and it sounds delicious. So, as I did not put enough crap in my GI system, I tried it right away: we are here for an adventure, right? So, let’s make it interesting. At that time, we were 6 miles in the race. And I started to experience nausea and wanted to puke. I was having a good time.

There is no very steep climb (as in Eastern States 100 for example), but this is definitively more challenging than a road race. When you get to the Dam Loop, you start to explore an area with a lot of roots. At some point, you cannot even run or walk and just have to climb the roots. Very fun and cool, this part was definitively a lot of fun. In addition, there is a lot (a ton) of mud and you will have to run in water streams (which will then clean your shoes).

Once we completed the first loop, you come back to the start and, you start to see the light: there are bathroom available. At that time, I logged 20 miles, had just 10 more to go so. It was then appropriate to take some time to evaluate the damages. For sure, after 5 minutes, I had nausea, headaches and wanted to throw up. But there was no way I was about to give up with just 10 miles to go. No. Way.

Some root climbing  - Photo by Samantha Goresh

Some root climbing – Photo by Samantha Goresh

So, I started the second loop and climb the big ass hill again. This second time went very well, better than expected. But after, I wanted to throw up again. When I got to the aid-station, there was the energy bites again and so, had to honor this delicious treat and take another one. This of course triggers the nausea symptoms again, which finally helps me decide on a policy of “nothing into your mouth until the finish”. Everything I put in my mouth – water, food, whatever – gave nausea, headaches, was very painful and I just wanted to puke. This lead me to be very dehydrated quickly because I stop drinking water even before (at mile 20 or so).

I finally completed the last 6 miles at a steady pace and made it to the finish line in 6:43:19. At that point, thanks to all the crap I had before (breakfast topped with syrup and peanut butter) and during (energy bites) the race, I still had fuel in the tank to go ahead and continue for a lot of miles – doing 50 miles did not seem so challenging at the finish. Not sure my stomach will agree on that but I did not really felt tired at all. I tried to go for a run the next day to see how I feel and was able to run about 6 miles at 0830 min/mile pace without any pain. Looks like I will be ready for the coming Burning River 50 milers in July then.

Post Race Party

Once you cross the finish line, you got a medal and you have an area to rest. Food is also provided for runners and is vegetarian compliant (simple – but much appreciated after a race – chili). More important than anything else, especially for this race: there are showers available with hot water. Considering the course and the mud on the course, this is more than appreciated.

Also, there is a beer tasting The environment is very friendly and people are cheering when you cross the finish line.

Let’s do it?

If you like trails and are looking for a great race, heck yeah, do it! The race is only $70 which is really reasonable for such a race. Considering the markings, the support, having portable toilets on a trail race and that the aid station are well-stocked, this is definitively worth it. The race director puts a very nice event, which is challenging, fun and beautiful.

fprmedal

The Take Away

What did I learn during this race? That your experience during race day depends on your preparation. While I got the physical preparation (training, log enough miles, etc.), I did not plan ahead as I should have done. The rules to finish a race without issue are very simple and basic:

  1. Get your miles in – no matter what and get a long run few weeks before. This part was ok – I got an average of 70 miles per week and completed a marathon.
  2. Eat carefully before the race and do not overload your system – my diet was a roller coaster driven by pizza cravings and gallons of diet soda. Definitively a mistake.
  3. Get enough sleep all the week before the race – it was a miserable failure as well – I got an average of 5 hours of sleep during the last weeks before the race – probably the biggest mistake
  4. Stick to what works for you and do not be distracted – by taking food I am not used to (pasta, pancakes) in big quantities, I did something my body is not used to. Just stick to what works.

While these rules are simple and basic, being consistent on the long run can be challenging, especially if the pre-race preparation if not your main focus. But there is no snake-oil and success will mostly rely on your consistency at following these rules. As you work, relations or many other activities: the basics are simple – applying them for hours/weeks/years it what makes it particularly difficult. Also, be careful: these rules are necessary but will not guarantee anything. It just reduces the likelihood of having a bad day.

To the infinite and beyond

To the infinite and beyond

Information

Energy Bites Recipe (Fire Tower Aid Station)

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. You can also use raisins, chia seeds, dried cranberries or m&ms
  • Mix together & roll into balls. They are easier to eat if you refrigerate!!

Disabling Win + hotkeys

If you are a Linux dude, using Windows only in a virtualbox environment (using Windows is like going to crowded events: even you do not like it but sometimes, you have to do it), and have all your window manager shortcut defined with the win key, you might be totally pissed by the windows shortcuts. Sure, shortcuts are convenient but when using two different operating systems, it can be confusing. One example is when you are using the WIN key to switch desktop in your window manager and then, virtualbox will grab the focus so that instead of switching desktop, it starts whatever application associated with the shortcut. Very frustrating. Because of that, instead of switching my environment to desktop 1 (which has basically my main terminal with several tabs), the windows instance running in virtualbox opens internet explorer on msn.com with a very shitty headline (the same kind of articles you can read on people.com).

So, today was the day, it was time to put this to an end. After some hours searching how to disable the WIN+ keys shortcuts, I found the magic solution that basically use voodoo spells windows registry edition.

In a nutshell:

  1. open your registry
  2. follow the key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
  3. create a new DWORD NoWinKeys and set its value to 1
  4. restart and voila!

Hopefully, if you are in the happy fews running windows in virtualbox and have most of your window manager shortcuts associated with the win+ key, this might save your time, your mental health and avoid reading junk articles on msn.com. You’re welcome.

Running Addiction

“Running is healthy”, “Going for a race? Good for you!”, “You are such an inspiration”

Bullshit: considering how lazy our society became over time, being inspiring is not too difficult. Of course, exercising and especially running will make you a healthier person: there is strong scientific evidence that regular exercise prevents diseases and improves your overall well-being. Being active a couple of hours per week improves your health, there is no doubt about it. But running can also be an addiction and an obsession: day after day, you are looking to get your shot every day. You want to get high.

Fitness-In-America1This is underestimated in our society, probably because of its rarity: not so many people are addicted by physical activity. This is the exception, not the norm. The mass is rather focused on passive (and often indoor) activities that requires minimal effort so that fitness addiction is very unlikely and less probable than other usual drugs (like alcohol or tobacco). And as its benefits are valued everywhere, people are less likely to think that it can be dangerous. Consider this: between a guy that smokes 2 packs a day and another that is running a marathon every morning, few people will consider the second guy as an addict and even less will say this is an issue. But the fact is: both have an addiction that impacts their life.

There is also some science behind it and not getting your daily workout can lead to arguments and disagreements with your friends, partner or colleague. Missing a run can then change your mood and makes your grumpy for the next hours. But other than you, nobody cares if you run or not today but people remember that you was an ass for a few days. Day after day, you become more isolated and running becomes the only activity you want to pursue to get away from your life. Instead of running to enjoy your life, you run to get away from it. Pretty sad.

There are multiple contributors to this addiction: as the brain delivers endorphins, you feel good after your workout, you are valued in your community as being the crazy-healthy-runner, you seem so “special” or “inspiring” and also, you look (from a physical perspective) better than the average Joe in his couch. For these reasons, you continue without really paying attention at the effects.

exerciseThere are not so much a difference between this addiction and others. The fear of missing out is real and can impact your social life without a doubt. You can’t stop thinking you will loose your fitness level or be the fatty guy again if you stop exercising (the take away: is total bullshit – and would rather help you to recover and be faster). For these reasons, you keep going at all cost: you need your fix, have a run and get high. Or just go for a simple workout, whatever you can get. If some folks are getting their fix at the corner of the street and give away all their money for a few grams of weed, others get their fix on the trails and give my money to race directors, runningwarehouse and other local running stores. Both are just unhealthy and counter-productive: by balancing your activities, your overall mental and physical well-being will improve and each aspect will benefits from taking rest.

I started to realize that until recently when I was injured and clearly not able to train for obvious physical reasons (e.g. I was even not able to stand and getting out of the bed required to be pushed – I was unable to even move). At that point, you realize how obsessed you are then and how destructive this addiction could be, from both a physical and mental perspectives. Having no solution than laying on the bed force you to realize that missing a few runs is no big deal. It will let my body and mind recover from weeks of uninterrupted training. And this is by managing food, exercise and balance your life that you can become faster and stronger. Realizing you are addicted can be hard, especially when you are so focused on a particular objective (race, losing weight, increase weekly mileage, etc.).

Keeping a balance between running, work, social life and other interests is challenging. But this is what will pay off on the long run. Our resources are limited: we have only one life with 24 hours per day to do what we love. Let’s just try to do our best, pursue our dreams and enjoy this time as much as we can.

Avoid the flat, Hit the hills and Run Pittsburgh!

hillsWhen looking for a race, people usually are looking for flat or downhill courses. Two years ago, when volunteering in Richmond to present the Pittsburgh marathon I was surprised to see how many runners were reluctant to sign up because of the elevation profile. The city is known for its hills and the race directors did a great job to avoid steep hills (look at the five steepest hills to get a general idea). But when presenting the course, you have to come with an elevation chart to convince them it was not too hilly.

The general idea is that a flat course (or a downhill one) will be easier on your legs and require less efforts. Of course, this is obvious you are going faster on a flat course but was the elevation never change, you are working the same muscle group. And if you choose a downhill race, this can also put a lot of stress on your joints. Even for a flat race, you are putting all the efforts on the same muscles group and exhaust them until the last mile. If you are going to try to qualify for a particular time (Boston qualifier anyone?), this can be (1) very exhausting and (2) hard to recover as your body is not used to such long and intense efforts on the same muscles.

That might seem odd but running a race with some elevation variation can be easier on your body. As your running form is changing according to the elevation, you are not using the same muscles and when a muscle group is used, the other can rest for a while. Of course, this will not be easy, but if you are trained and used to take some hills, it will be definitively easier.

One example on the east coast is Erie and Pittsburgh. Erie is a big Boston Qualifier race: very flat, the course takes place in what one might consider as ideal conditions (perfect temperature most of the time, completely flat race). This is a two 13.1 loops on Presque Isle. Needless to say, pretty boring: after the first loop, you have only one wish, finish as soon as possible. On the other hand, Pittsburgh (or even Richmond) have some slight hills and is considered more difficult. But as long as you are used to run some hills, your body will recover quicker. And the course is nicer: you experience most of the neighborhood and the volunteers are pretty awesome. No matter if you are a Pittsburgh native or a new visitor: you will experience the city from a different perspective. Better than doing two loops on the same course. If you never experience the Steel City, I just recommend to come and experience this race. This would show you why Pittsburgh is one of the best city to live in the USA.

keep-calm-and-love-pittsburgh-6

Dude, keep the outdoor speaker at home (Dirty Kiln 2015 Race Report)

On April, 4, just one week before Forget the PR 50K, I ran the Dirty Kiln half-marathon. This race is organized by the Allegheny Trail Runners and is either a 5-miles or a half marathon. As last year, I did the half-marathon. The race is a basic 5 miles loop plus an additional 8 miles. Each loop as two stream crossing and of course, a lot of mud. Some hills are very challenging as well so that it might be better to walk them.

The 2014 edition was epic in the sense that the weather was really windy and cold. The 2015 edition was way better: not so much wind, some sun but still a lot of mud (and so, fun)! This was then supposed to be a great run. The race is organized by the Allegheny Trail Runners group, a non-profit that supports local charities. So, instead of going for big events that are rather big money makers for a company or an individual, this race is organized by trail lovers to benefits people in need. Very sweet.

godPre-race

Last year, I booked a crappy motel in the Altoona area to stay before the night. The bed was terrible, did not sleep so well and I had pain in the back. I decided that this year, I will take a better place and chose the Hampton Inn that includes a breakfast. That was a good idea, especially because they provide basic runner food for breakfast (peanut butter and bagel anyone?), which was perfect: no need to pack anything, the breakfast is availability when you wake up so you do not have to worry about that aspect.

There is no race expo or packet pick up before race day. The race starts at 0900 so you have plenty of time to get there and get it. The packet contains a tech t-shirt, your bib and chip. No fancy stuff inside but for $35, this is already more than enough! If you do this race, be there at least 10 to 15 minutes before the race starts to make sure you get your packet and put your chip on.

The race

batmanThe race is a 5-ish loop plus an additional 8-ish loop. You run mostly on single-track trails with very muddy spots. There are also stream crossing. The first loop is not very challenging or difficult without any high elevation. So, this is a great warmup. The second loop is  more challenging with a good elevation and a lot of steep hills. So steep that you will have to walk them and not run them. If you run it and plan to finish in less than 2:30, it is wise to start in the beginning of the pack. Many people will not let you pass them when being on a single track trail because they just do not listen to you. I was stuck in the beginning by two persons that discuss and never heard me when trying to indicate that I wanted to pass them. So, just try to rush the start to avoid that.

The race is marked with flags so it is difficult to lose yourself. Also, as you do (more or less) the same loop twice, this is easy to remember where you passed before and you can easily recognize parts of the race. Be careful to keep track of the flags, otherwise, you can get lost on the trails.

The race offers also a great view when doing the second loop and being on top of the hills. Being there on a sunny Saturday morning offers a wonderful scenery. While the view is great, it seems that some folks enjoy the view but not the silence. A dude was stupid enough to bring a portable speaker in hit bagpack (or whatever he brought on the trails) put his music on while climbing on the trails. Earphones are forbidden for safety reasons, but heck, when you cannot bring headphone, what is better than annoying everybody with a bigger sound system? Let’s just bring the phone with a portable speaker (or just use the phone speaker, who knows). Seriously, what is the f*ck!ng reason you would like to take your radio on a race? Who takes a speaker when going on a trail race and experience the nature? And why putting your music on a speaker to bother everybody around you? (private message: dude, if you read this message, stay home with your speaker and enjoy your music alone and just enjoy the nature when going on the trails). If possible, I would just suggest to the race director to forbid any listening device: if you go on the trails, this is not to reproduce your gym environment with a lot of electronic equipments. Otherwise, just stay at the gym and watch Discovery channel when exercising: the benefits will be similar. This is just unfortunate to have a dude like this on such a great event.

In terms of support, there are volunteers on the course to guide you and help you to cross the streams. There is an aid station on the course with water/gatorade and gels. You can also take water after the first loop. So, in total, you get 3 potential stops to get water or gels. The volunteers are very (very) friendly and helpful and make sure you stay safe on the course (especially at the stream crossing). Again, all the race is very well organized and accommodates beginners or experienced runners.

Post-race

Once you are done, you get a wood medal and a bottle of water. There is also pizza and snacks provided to all runners. Unfortunately, no beer as in Rock’n The Knobb (the other race organized by the same non profit) that might be a better idea, especially if you are driving right after. The state parks typically offers showers if you want to be clean before going back home. The race pictures are taken by volunteers and available … for free. Yep, nobody that tries to take your monthly income for 3 pictures of you! Sweet, isn’t?

Let’s do it?

Yep, there is a lot of mud ...

Yep, there is a lot of mud …

Heck yeah, as long as you are able to avoid the obnoxious dude that carries his speaker when you explore the nature, this is definitively one of the best race in Pennsylvania and I do not see any red flag that will tell you not to do it! First of all, this is pretty cheap ($35), fun. There is a lot of mud, which can be challenging. Then, there is pretty steep hills that will also change from your usual workout. The support is very good and volunteers are very friendly as well. Also, the race pictures are available for free! And finally, all the profits goes for a charity. So, there are definitively no reason for not going there!

Thanks again to the Allegheny Trailrunners group for organizing this race. So, far, Dirty Kiln and Rock’n The Knobb are among the best races I have done. Pretty cheap, very friendly and supporting charities, this is a fantastic non-profit and I hope you’ll get a chance to experience one (or several) of their races!

See you at Rock’n the Knob 2015 then!

Information

 

Gear Review: UltraViz Spry

Since several weeks months more than than a year, I was using the same backpack to commute from home to work. So far, it has been a really good bagpack but after a full season and going through the summer, winter and taking my sweat for hours, it was time to switch!

UltraViz Spry

UltraViz Spry

The requirements were pretty simple:

  • lightweight: as I use it every day, it has to be light and put minimal weight on the back
  • small: need to carry only a wallet, an access card and eventually a set of keys
  • reflective: have some reflective band to increase visibility at night
  • cheap: less than $50

I found the UltraViz on leftlane for $16.25 (the MSRP is $54.95). Having tried the AK vest in the past, I was curious to see if it will fit (the AK was clearly not ok and bruised my elbows). So, I just gave it a shot: after all, it is always possible to return it.

After about a month of using the UltraViz, I have to say that it is a great choice. Very light (4.5 oz), small at a great price (with the discount), it is a very good vest! If you are going for an ultra and do not need a bladder, it might be a very good option as well. The vest has good reflective materials. So, if you are looking for a good, light reflective vest, this might be the one you was looking for!

 

VxWorks653/Apex support in VxWorks

When using VxWorks653, the initial example does not use the Apex. Instead, it uses the regular vThreads library. In fact, there is no built-in example that works out of the box with the Apex. In case you are trying to figure out how to quickly add the Apex support from the original example, there is how to proceed (assuming the ARINC653 system project is called foobar):

  1. Edit the Makefile.vars from the foobar_PartitionOS project and add the following line at the end
    SSL_OBJS += apexComponent.o
  2. Edit the foobar_PartitionOS.xml file in the foobar_PartitionOS project. You should have something like the following
<Shared_Library_API
    xmlns="http://www.windriver.com/vxWorks653/SharedLibraryAPI"
    xmlns:xi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XInclude"
    Name="vThreads"
    >

    <Interface>
    <Version Name="template"/>
    <xi:include href="$(WIND_BASE)/target/vThreads/config/comps/xml/vthreads.xml"/>
       <xi:include href="$(WIND_BASE)/target/vThreads/config/comps/xml/apex.xml"/>
   
    </Interface>
    
</Shared_Library_API>

Raccoongaine 2015

Some weeks ago, some folks on the North Park Trail Runner facebook group suggested to go out on a Sunday and participate to Raccoongaine, an orienteering/scavenger-hunt game. This is not a race: you have to find targets in a state park within a time limit (3 hours or 6 hours). This reminds me the City Spree in Pittsburgh, except that you are really on your own and have to really know how to read a map.

In a nutshell, you show up at the starting line one hour before it starts, get a map that shows the targets location and you are good to go and find them. When you find a target, you an electronic device register it (it is used to trace what targets did you find once you finished). Each target you find will give you a number of points (targets far from the starting line gives more points of course). The map shows the trails, the elevation profiles and routes/roads. Needless to say, GPS devices are prohibited, you are just allowed to use a compass.

If you expect to run the whole thing: forget it. You have to go through branches, steep hills, cross streams, etc. Also, dress accordingly. There are a lot of brambles so, in case you wear shorts, your legs finish bloody. On the other hand, this is a great way to cross-train on a rest day: this is time on your feet, you exercise other positions and climb steep hills. Definitively useful and a great way to train for coming trail races.

Our team did not get a lot of points and we spend a significant number of time trying to find a target (that we never found). On the other hand, this first experience was great and there are some advices if you are considering doing it:

  1. Wear pants, sunglasses and protect your body: there are brambles and lot of thorn. This was my mistake. As soon as I came home, I applied alcohol on my legs, which was very uncomfortable and, well, painful.
  2. When you do not find a target quickly, move on and go somewhere else! We obviously spend too much time looking for a target we never found. According to somebody we meet before, it seems to be a usual rookie mistake.
  3. Establish a plan to try to maximize the points by reaching targets that will give you many points.
  4. Learn to use a compass. I do not know who in my team really knew how to use a compass. I do not (which is very bad) and this is probably the reason we lost so much time trying to find a target
  5. Learn to read a map, not only the location but everything. By analyzing the area around a target (fences, walls, roads, elevation change, etc), it would be more easy to find it

These are just some recommendations after a first experience. I will definitively try other events like this, this is a great way to spend time outside and have fun with friends while cross-training for trail races! If you plan to do it, register quickly, the event was sold out for this 2015 edition. The same club do other event like this over the year, so, you might check out their website.