Pacing is going to be one of the hardest parts of getting the Saintelyon right.
Unlike the other ultras I have run this season, the Saintelyon is a mix between road and trails and there is a fair amount of climbing, too. The official course description splits the race into various sections, essentially making the distances between aid stations the guide to understanding the race. I’ve used these descriptions as a basis for estimating my pace throughout the race and here’s hoping I hit my marks.
Part One: Saint Etienne to Saint Christo (16km, +478m/-228m)
The first 7km of this section are on roads and I should be able to hold a 6:00 pace. The second part will have more climbing and be on trails so I’ll count on going slower here, say 7:00. Call it about 1:38 to here and add some time for the aid station for a total of 1:45.
Part Two: Saint Christo to Sainte Catherine (12km, +298m/-339m)
It’s basically uphill for the first six kilometers here and then downhill for the next six, though neither the up or the down is consistent. If I am still feeling good I will aim to get this section done at about 7:00 pace and round it out in 1:24. If I get out of the aid station with 1:30 for the section and 3:15 for the course to that point I’ll be happy.
Part Three: Saint Catherine to Saint Genou (11km, +311m/-395m)
It’s got a steep climb and then a longer downhill so I’m hoping to keep things at about 7:30 pace through here, too, with those extra 30 seconds thrown in for some walking breaks and because I’ll be less fresh here. That means 1:23 for the section, 1:30 including the aid station, and 4:45 for the race so far.
Part Four: Saint Genou to Soucieu-en-Jarrest (12km, +281m/-532m)
It’s mostly downhill but with a steep climb halfway through the section. Call it 7:00 pace again and count 1:24 for the running and 1:30 including the station. I could go faster here with the downhill running but I figure I’ll be tired so keep it nice and steady. Race so far to here: 6:15.
Part Five: Soucieu-en-Jarrest to Chaponest (10km, +143m/-216m)
Again, mostly rolling downhills until a climb a couple of kilometers out of the aid station at Chaponest. If I aim for a 7:30 average pace – I will probably walk the uphills here – then I should be through in 1:15. Add on a longer aid station stop to fuel up before the final assault on Lyon and I will call it 1:25 with 7:40 already done to this point.
Part Six: Chaponest to Lyon (11km, +219m/-337m)
By the time I make it to the final section I’ll be pretty tired so I am going to shoot for 8:00 pace all up, though the last kilometer will likely be a little faster as I try and put on some sort of show for anyone who is awake and watching the runners come in. That’ll make it 1:28 for the final section and a total finishing time of 9:08.
If I manage this sort of pacing then I’ll be finishing with just over 9:00:00 for the entire race which I’ll be very happy with. Barring any major injury this should be possible, though without having run a lot at night and on trails in the dark, I’ll be happy with anything sub-10:00:00, I think, and if I have a shot at hitting a sub-9:00:00 finish in the last section, you can bet I’ll be putting in and going for it.
The countdown continues…