Rose Hawkswood has been running silly races in the Netherlands and sends us this report:
Texel 60 or: How I realised support is a superpower.
I’m not going to pretend that I was totally prepared for running Texel 60k. Yeh I’d completed the Claremont 35 and was hilly and tough at times. But I thought I could get pretty damn close, having never raced at this distance, or even a marathon. Naive and enthusiastic I hoped I would get round in 6-6.5 hours.
Texel 60 is a clockwise 61km run around the island of Texel (pronounced “Tessel”) in the north of the Netherlands. Starting at the bottom of the island heading north there are two beach sections in the first 20k broken up with running through a forest.
This was murder, not the sand that I had prepared for, XC is worse. The wind, the wind from the north was unrelenting, in your face, making me pay for being enthusiastic. There were moments of beautiful sunshine then icy cold hail! I knew the worst conditions have pasted.
After 22km I was joined by my friend (and host for the weekend), Darci, she was my bike support for the next 38k.
The rest of the route was on cycle paths and roads, going over dunes, along dikes, through a town or two and around the harbour.
It didn’t get easier, my legs were ok they trained for this, but everything else had been battered by the wind which I absolutely had not at all prepared for.
I passed halfway in about 3.25, so I was still hopeful of getting a finish time before the 7 hour cut off, I had a tail wind now and it was all road and flat. At the 3rd (43km) check point, I was still just about going to do it for time (5hr 3 mins, with 18km and 1hr 57mins left on the clock).
Unfortunately I just didn’t have it, running kept getting harder. I spent too much time walking and with 5k to go I had about 25 minutes to finish cut off time, it was a really really long 5k.
There were two reasons I made it to the finish line, the first I had no other way of getting home than on my own two feet, and the second the fantastic support from Darci.
Arriving at the finish line was heart breaking, the race team were packing up. I’d failed, finished but not with pride.
I got a huge hug from someone who was chatting a lot of dutch, and not a single thing I understood. I have been told he hugged everyone who crossed the line, that might be the official way to finish a ultra on Texel. My splits were 1h 36min @ 16km, 5h 03min @43km and about 7h 23min overall, although my watch had died in the last few 100m.
The Claremont 35 wasn’t much shorter, but it was a lot easier because of the constant support and camaraderie from my fellow club mates. That support is like having a running superpower where anything is possible.
Texel 60 and 120 is on again in 2019, I don’t know if I’ll be there again. Texel is a beautiful (windy) island with very ugly sheep, I highly recommend a visit.