3 weeks exactly after the fiasco of the Alpe d’Huez, I am back in Hautes-Alpes territory for the almighty Embrunman. Longest running triathlon in Europe, 29th edition this year. Toughest iron distance race in the world, arguably. The bike course is 188k long – we’re in France after all, so why not? – and includes the ascent of the mighty col de l’Izoard amongst some 5000m of positive climbing; the marathon is the correct distance but features another 400m of elevation and is usually run under a deadly sun.
Why did I come back here then? I finished 10th last year for what was my first ironman and my first marathon. I suffered (a lot), travelled to some really dark places (especially between the 25th and 35th k on the bike) but my aim was mostly to finish and call myself an ironman. Better still, an embrunman! When I signed up earlier this year, the plan was to arrive here better prepared, with more specific training (ie long rides and long runs) in the tank…for multiple reasons (months of endless rain, injuries) this wasn’t to be. If anything I am less ready than last year. Plus I know what to expect. Pain, buckets of. Scary.