Race Report: Trail des Cimes du Buëch 2016 – 42km

May 22nd, 2016
La Faurie, France

The Trail des Cimes du Buëch is now in its third year, and I had ran the 2014 and 2015 versions which comprised of a quick 17km circuit with some amazing views. This year the 17km version was included in the Challenge Trails 05 competition, but on top of this was added a 42km mara’trail event with nearly 3000m of climbing.

The race profile - getting hard as it goes on

The race profile – getting hard as it goes on – the last climb at 36km was exceptionally steep

I entered the event at the last minute because I’ve been recovering from a torn calf muscle which stopped my training for around a month, so I was keen to take this one easy and use it as a test to see how much fitness I still had left.

The first third of the race takes in most of the original 17km, and I know from experience that its a hard climb, although rewarded with some amazing panoramic scenery. The latter stages of the race are also pretty hilly though so I was careful not to go out too fast.

As every year, the race starts at the football pitch in La Faurie

As every year, the race starts at the football pitch in La Faurie

Only 38 runners lined up at the chilly start, but there was a good atmosphere and pretty soon we were off. The tough climb at the beginning was everything I expected, followed a by a rocky, technical descent.

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The weather was warm and sunny, but as the race went on the wind really caught up. The photo above shows a climb about two-thirds of the way in and an enormous wind blowing from the south was actually blowing me off my feat as I climbed up onto the ridge. My cap had to be lashed to my trekking poles otherwise it would be half way to Lyon by now.

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After 35km I was starting to flag, but the last climb although not the biggest definitely felt the toughest. After a hot and tiring climb the descent off the other side was technical and very tough on the legs.

Top of the final climb, with the finish in the distance

Top of the final climb, with the finish in the distance

Back down in the forest on the final run in.

Back down in the forest on the final run in.

Cheese and Coke at the finish.

Cheese and Coke at the finish.

 

Race Report: 2nd Trail des Cimes du Buëch

Where: La Faurie, Haute-Alpes (05), France
When: Sunday 24th May 2015

The Trail des Cimes du Buech is a short trail race now into it’s second year. I ran the first event last year and was pleased to place 6th, but lining up on the start line this year I realised that word had got round, and some serious competition had turned up. This was confirmed when I bumped into eventual race winner Gael Raynaud on the start line, who would eventually obliterate the course record in 1h22’39”.

Race goodie bag, including a free beer - although considering it wasn't even 11am on Sunday morning by the time I finished, I declined the offer

Race goodie bag, including a free beer – although considering it wasn’t even 11am on Sunday morning by the time I finished, I declined the offer

The course is pretty simple and takes in the Cimes in the area, the mountain ridges and peaks that give a great panoramic view over the surrounding mountains. Just short of 17km, it’s mostly uphil for the first 7km, before taking you along a ridgeline giving great views, and then plunging you into a steep and technical descent followed by some fast downhill running on 4×4 tracks. There’s a few undulating forest tracks in the last couple of KMs as well.

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104 racers lined up under the starting banner and headed off at the 9am start. The weather was kind – clear blue skies and the ferocious winds that had been battering the southern Alps for the last few days (invigorating as the race director posted on Facebook) had thankfully dropped.

104 runners set off from the race start at La Faurie. Photo credit http://traildescimesdubuech.blogspot.fr/

104 runners set off from the race start at La Faurie. Photo credit http://traildescimesdubuech.blogspot.fr

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Like a lot of these races there’s a bottleneck straight after the mass start, in this case we exit the football pitch where the race starts, cross a road and then straight over a narrow bridge so it’s quite important to get to the front. From then on the route crosses a few fields and then kicks up to some steep forest tracks for a couple of kilometres before opening out to show great views over the pays du Buech.

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ridge

The day quickly became quite warm, and the climb up to the summit was hard, but the aid station with food and drink at the 7km mark was very welcome. Another short climb and a fantastic run along the ridgeline gave out to a very steep and technical descent into the forest, which then eased out into rutteed 4×4 tracks. This meant a consistently fast, hard downhill for nearly 10km – a real quad-killer.

Running back over the bridge into the finishing straight. Photo credit http://traildescimesdubuech.blogspot.fr

Running back over the bridge into the finishing straight. Photo credit http://traildescimesdubuech.blogspot.fr

I rolled in with a time of 1h45’01”, over a minute more quickly than last year but it was only good enough to manage 15th place, showing how the popularity, participation and competition level of the event had dramatically increased – it thoroughly deserves to do so as its a great, well-run, friendly event on a fun but demanding course – I’ll definitely make this a yearly outing.

Strava Data

Race Results

Download full race results here.

results