The second hit out of the day, the second double of the week, and the second time I have run the Lyon Ultra Run Lurdunum Fat Ass.
Last year going into this race there were a lot of unknowns. As I wrote at the time:
this was something of a mystery race. Details about the course were not released and the only thing I had to work from were a starting line (Place St Jean) as well as a distance (22km) and an approximate elevation gain (1000m). It was just going to be me and 300 other runners cutting our way through the Lyon night, headlamps blazing, and wondering what set of stairs would be next.
There was a lot less mystery this year, of course, having already completed last year’s Lurdunum. I knew what to expect: climbing, stairs, traboules, some descending, and a bunch of happy people running together on a Friday night. I figured it would be relatively slow as it was last year with a lot of stopping and starting. Last year this surprised me:
A group of between 250 and 300 (or so I estimated) gathered for a pre-run photo outside of the Cathedral St Jean. After a few more minutes we took off up the first of many hills and I was happy to be in the first ten or twelve places. However, after about 600 meters, I got the first surprise of the night.
We stopped and waited for the other runners to catch up.
We ran a little further up the hill towards Fourviere, then waited again. And when we finally got the Basilica, we waited again. It seemed that this was going to be a group run where the group would run for five minutes, then wait for five minutes.
For four and a half hours.
I wrote last year that I would “make the best of it and enjoy the hills”. This year, though, I was looking forward to the workout, to taking a few photos along the way, and enjoying the run with a few others: Laurent and Fernanda, both colleagues from CoSMo, and my buddy Thierry from the Lyon Running Crew were both going to be there and I would be happy to run a few extra hours with them.
We gathered at the Cathedral Saint Jean at the appointed hour and I did my best to stay out of the wind. The Lyon Ultra Run team was all over the place and I said hello to a couple of people I knew from various ultras last year in Saint Fons and from the Ultra Boucle de la Sarra. These guys are all volunteers but are nonetheless professionals in their attitude to putting on an event, and this one was no exception. This was going to be a nice run even if I would spend a lot of the time not actually running.
Last year it must have been a little colder as I wrote about the gear I was wearing and it was, in a word, heavy: shirt, arm warmers, jacket, waterproof hat, gloves. This year it was a little bit warmer and I expected the rain to hold off, so I dispatched the jacket, waterproof hat, and gloves to the kit box for the night. I did carry my Camelbak Circuit pack but pulled the bladder out and replaced it with a light windproof jacket in case it got blowy a bit later on. I didn’t take any water or food as I knew there would be an aid station half way through and another at the end. I wasn’t worried about the distance or pace this year and I didn’t think I would need anything more than what I was carrying.
One extra item I did carry that wasn’t on last year’s list was a plastic cup. Yes, Lurdunum has gone green and cupless which is a good thing and a good opportunity for me to break out the Saintelyon cup I bought at the expo back in December. Besides the cup and the jacket, though, I wasn’t really carrying much at all. The Camelbak Circuit is a nice small pack and it’s comfortable to wear when running hills. With my Petzl headlamp on my head, my pack on my back, and a smile on my face we mugged for the pre-run photo and then set off on Lurdunum 2017.
I don’t think I can really describe the course in any detail. In general terms, though, the course took us from the Old City to Fourviere, down and then up that hill a couple of different ways again, down to Valmy and across to the Croix Rousse, and then up and down that hill a couple of times before we got to half way.
The only downside in the first half of the run was a fall I took about 2 or 3 kilometers into the run. Somehow I managed to trip while running on the flat, the second time in two weeks that I’ve managed that feat. Luckily I wasn’t really hurt and I only grazed my right hand a little. It hurts as all cuts will, but I escaped without any injury except to my pride.
At about the 9 or 10km point there was an aid station. I took a couple of cups of water and three slices of saucisson. Frankly, I didn’t really feel the need for more than that. I was feeling good and enjoying myself, and enjoying catching up with Laurent and Thierry at each of the many stops we made along the way. Indeed, while I spent about three hours running, I spent another 90 minutes standing around and waiting for people to catch up. Unlike last year, however, this was not a surprise this time.
The second half of the run took us up to the Croix Rousse, up and down the Rhone side of the hill a couple of different ways, and then swept us down the Pentes to the Place des Terreaux by about the most roundabout way you could think of. My guess is that anytime the organizers saw a staircase they had to figure out a way to include it – I’m not complaining, but you could hear the chuckles whenever we headed towards a staircase and someone remarked ‘do you think we’ll go up there?’
The final part of the run took us into the Old City again, through a traboule, and then up to the top of the hill one more time. Again, it was a roundabout way to the top but it was good fun and I managed to stay in the first ten or twelve for the final push into the finish. I clicked stop on the Garmin, grabbed a slice of ham and a couple of slices of saucisson, and filled up my cup with water once again. The first Fat Ass of the year was done and I was feeling good.