Vinter Ultra Mols Bjerge (VUMB) 2016 aka Hug (KRAM) Fest:

A race report from 104km & 2653m(total ascent) long bliss!

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Event date: 6th & 7th February 2016

Upto the Race Day:

After taking 1 month break from running in India, I struggled a lot during the end of December & beginning of January with my running form. At one point during the training, I actually re-considered, if I should participate in this year’s VUMB or not. Dont get me wrong, its not I didn’t want to join the event but it was just because of my poor form. Thanks to couple of hill repeat sessions, I started getting back in shape. And then I signed for SILVA Night Owl Trail Marathon in Ulvedal plantation on 23rd January. I planned & ran the Night Owl Marathon at a slower pace & used it as a training build up to the VUMB. Think that gave me some more confidence that I should just show up at the VUMB start line & take it when it comes. But to add to my nightmare, I got the flu weekend before the race but luckily I recovered from it though in general I didn’t feel on the top of my health.

IMG_4446Another thing, I don’t know how & why but I always end up having a busy work week upto the race. This time I had meetings in Copenhagen & I drove back home on thursday evening & had a very busy Friday as well both work & house hold chores because Seema was not well due to flu. That means I had to pack all the stuff at the last minute. And infact I was not ready at 17:00 as agreed with Daniel! On the positive side, it was good that I was so busy that I didn’t get to think & worry too much about the race, the challenge & the distance & pity myself of being not in great shape or not trained well enough.

We drove to a B&B close to Ebeltoft the night before the race so that we can get a good night sleep/rest because we knew that the next 30 hours will be super tough. We met Kenneth & Jesper at the B&B and had some really interesting talks where we geeked out on running gears 😉 After a good night sleep, we packed our bags, put on our running gears & drove to the start area which was less than 10km from our B&B.

This was my 2nd consecutive year at VUMB. After having participated last year, I so much wanted to join this event again this year. VUMB is an orientation run that sprawls over most of the hills at Mols Bjerge National Park.

Race Day1:

12698372_1005087679598050_7862368792251659386_oWe were the first runners who checked in for the race. 12615227_1005088549597963_7808466788099093355_oDon’t know why but not even once before the race I was worried about the challenge ahead of us inspite of bad form & less training. I’m sure having participated  & successfully completed last year has given lot of confidence & may be my brain already knew about the pain & struggle I have to go through in these 2 days. Amazing how our brain works!!!

The race briefing started right at 9am & soon we were taken on a bus to the start area.

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The bus dropped us at the parking lot of Kalø Castle. And the prologue task was to find all the hidden posts on the Kalø & report back to the organiser to get the main orienteering map/post description for the Day1.12672047_1005090169597801_1968941344731516123_o

We quickly found all the posts except no.2 & that was out there in the water as per the map but we together with other runners couldn’t locate it. And decided to skip, just run back & reported that the post was missing. It could be very well that it was intentionally not placed by the organisers to make it more fun 😀

After getting the orienteering map for the day1, we set off quickly. We took a nice trail route parallel to the beach & ran about a km on the beach. Very soon we were right in the middle of hills & I got a feeling that now the real VUMB has started with broad views, large open fields & undulating hills. First 20km were super smooth & we were very swift & sharp in locating the posts. It was Daniel who took the complete control of navigation with map & compass & I was just following him, blindly ;). On day 1, we got two extra tasks, first one around 20km & the second one around 45k-46km mark. In addition to the long distance, challenging terrain, we got light drizzle all through the day, got electric shock 4-5 times while crossing the electric fences in the fields :(

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And thats not all, I fell down couple of times due to those stupid shrubs/weeds with long branches & thorns blocking the shoes. But luckily, no injury. 12694818_1005580242882127_1928031015348551671_oAfter finishing the 2nd task, we knew that we have roughly 10km before we reach Frigate Jylland (one of the world’s largest wooden warship). Around that time, it also got dark & we turned our head torches on. Now we knew that running & navigating will become more cumbersome. Around 50km mark, there was a post placed right in the marsh. On our way out of the marsh, we had mud till just below the knees. From there we knew how its only 5-7km. We ran swiftly & arrive at Frigate just around 6 PM. We were welcome by the race crew & other runners. Daniel decided to climb up the mast on Frigate & he did it. I was feeling too cold & wanted to enjoy the hot tomato soup & change clothes instead :)))

Now it was the time to prepare food + bed & sleep in “almost freezing” ship. Soon we unpacked our stuff & prepare the sleeping bag/mattress for sleep. Ate the ready to eat adventure food that we brought from home.

IMG_4457Thomas from the race crew informed us that we both have won really nice jackets from Berghaus. That was really cool! I was actually considering to buy that one & now I have won it in the lottery :)

We were asked to pose flaunting our new jackets infront of the sponsors flag which we did very happily :) Super thanks to the race crew & Berghaus for the jacket! :)

Met many known faces, fellow runners & friends. It’s always nice to catch up with the “tribe” & get inspired! :)12694631_1005131162927035_6876057927062834042_o

Around 9pm, I called it a day after a very good day on the trail. I was satisfied with what I have achieved during the day considering my fitness level & (not much) training upto the race.

And slept thinking about the long day we gonna have tomorrow. And had no clue how my legs, body & mind will take it tomorrow. Whatever it will be, its gonna be fun & struggle! :)

Race Day2:

12657220_1005405922899559_9155366491510477878_oOn the day 2, I got up at 4:40am with sore legs & body but if I remember correctly, I felt lot better than last year where I was totally sore & could even walk properly. I had cereal with yoghurt that I brought from home for breakfast. I think it is by-default the best pre-race breakfast I can have without messing up with my stomach during these longs run. We swiftly packed our stuff & dressed+geared up for another long day on the trails.

After a short race briefing  in front of Frigate, we got our first prologue task to find couple of posts in & around Frigate. This time they have hidden most of the posts so you have to make efforts in finding them.  It was so difficult to start to run on sore legs & only after 4-5 km struggle, my heart, brain & legs had a consensus as there was no other option but to finish this thing. We quickly located all the posts & reported back to the start to get the real orienteering map for the day.12622056_1005672009539617_3562328040190385475_o

IMG_4462After approx. 12km mark we reached Egsmark strand & were presented with “small” task to find few additional posts mostly placed on hills & you have to run up & down these hills to reach the next post. Egsmark is a beautiful ‘town’ (if I can call it) situated on a hill just next tot he beach offering a fantastic 180 degree view. Love that spot & thus clicked few pics before setting off. From there until 20-25km it all went very smoothly running up & down on & through rolling hills. We were also very sharp on locating the post. In two days, we only made one minor mistake that may have caused us approx. 15-20 minutes but otherwise Daniel did an awesome job with navigating.12694615_1005576649549153_6074346309028020374_o

Around 28km (85km in total), I started feeling really tired & think I hit the lowest point in the race around 30km. I lost the motivation to run & it was really hard to put one foot infront of the other. I told Daniel that I can’t run & we should walk for sometime & I should have some energy gels. I got real scary thoughts what if I have to walk the rest of the distance. Its not going to be an easy walk from here on. But on the other side, I have been in similar situation in the past & a part of my brain was telling me that its a bad patch, it will pass, I will regain my energy & strength & should be able to run soon. While struggling/walking, I had a sandwich & 1 energy gel that I brought with me.VOILA!!! Few minutes after that I start feeling better & we started running again. I asked IMG_4460Daniel couple of times that how many kms we still have left & started counting backwards. The closer we come to finish the better I started feeling & thinking that it will soon be over. And I knew that there is Chili Corn Carne & a good local brew waiting for me. Just can’t wait to be there. Before the finish there was a 2km section on the beach where we overtook two runners who were walking to the finish & I could see the 2nd last post on the trail going on the right side from the beach. Soon after that Daniel told me that he could see the last post on a top of a hill. We remember this post from last year as well. And I knew from there it will be less than 500m to the finish. We agreed that we run+walk briskly to the top & from there we will run to the finish & thats what we did!12698318_1005581226215362_6572729914472084289_o

The event organisers were there at the finish cheering us up when we were approaching the finish portal. We were greeted with BIG hugs from the people out there. It was such a great feeling to be HOME after two terrific but hard days on the trail. It was not easy for me & I am sure it was not easy for anyone else who joined the event. Everyone goes through their our pain/suffering/struggle, everyone has their own stories, everyone has their own ups & downs & everyone comes out as a  WINNER irrespective of what time & position they finish in. Thats the thing I really love about long distance running. It brings the BEST out of yourself. Infact , it lets you become the best version of YOURSELF! :)

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Every race report is incomplete without mentioning about the efforts the race directors & race crew put into the race. Their efforts are much larger than the runners themselves & I can definitely say that being a race director myself. Entire route is meticulously planned that provides runners with awesome scenery, challenging terrain & daunting tasks in the wilderness. Each of you guys rock(in the organising team)! Thank you very much for everything. I can’t think of anything that can be improved. It means everything was just perfect. TOP class event in one of the best areas in Denmark. For sure we will see again next year! Oh by the way, on this race you will probably be hugged for more number of times than in rest of the year (therefore the title- Hug Fest). 😀

IMG_4469And my special thanks for making a vegetarian chili-corn-carne for me, it was deliicous!!! KRAMMER (Hugs)!

And my final thanks to my running buddy, Daniel. He did a fantastic job with the navigation. We as a team have improved a lot at navigation with compass compared to last year. And thanks mate for dragging me on the day 2, I know you could have run faster without me!!!FullSizeRender-2

#RunShareInspire #VUMB #VUMB2016 #TrailRunning #Orienteering #HardDaysOnTrail

NOTE: Photo credit goes to the event photographer, Martin Paldan & race crew.

Stats:

  • Total distance: 104km
  • Total ascent: 2653m
  • Finish time: 16h:27m:27s
  • Team Position: #10
  • My Ultra-marathon no. 10 & 11