Ready for the Kyrenia mountains?

All has been pretty quiet on the training front in Qatar. My right knee is still nagging, but it’s just another ailment to add to a generally unresponsive right leg. If anyone knows of any going spare, I’d love a swap!

Following two crafty weeks on the Spanish trails, it was back to the desert and city running. The heat racks up pretty quickly from April onwards and it’s a risky business being caught out on the sand with no support.

Weirdly the weather was slow to respond this year, and it was near the end of April before summer arrived. Normal service has now been resumed and we’re topping 40C as our standard daytime temp. The hot tap has become the cold tap, as cold water tank temps hit scalding point.

Our coolest night time temp, around 2am, is in the low 20s. Hot for running then! By my reckoning, we have around four weeks before the humidity really arrives, and then training gets really interesting. Only the wise will survive.

For me, I have probably one of the most challenging races I will have ever attempted coming up in mid July. All 103km of the Ultra Sierra Nevada will be tough, especially over 5,900m ascent and with much of the last 20km of the race over 2,000m.

Looking forward to views like this in the Kyrenia Mountains.

Looking forward to views like this in the Kyrenia Mountains.

Before the Sierra challenge though I have the little question of the Two Castles Lionheart 80km run, in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, next weekend. It’s around half the ascent I’ll be tackling in Spain, and therefore should be more runnable. It’ll be a good warm up race on a relatively local mountain trail to Qatar. I’ll be looking to get in a fairly competitive run, ready to notch back before racking up the miles again.

From the looks of things the Lionheart takes some sensible running. You need to keep moving over the first 30km while the temps are cooler, but go too hard and you’ll blow it over the more challenging remainder of the course.

We’ve spent this morning packing our kit. I’m going to start in Brooks Cascadias – yes, I’m tempted to go in road shoes but I haven’t any at the moment which I don’t want to totally trash – before swapping into La Sportiva Ultra Raptors at 50km. (We have the luxury of no less than three drops bags!) A heavy shoe, I know, but they stick like glue to mountain trails. And with the route sounding tough over the last 50 I’ll be going slow anyway.

Fodder wise, we’re going tried and tested, with Nakd Bars scoured from the limited supplies which make the boat trip to Qatar. (Take note UK: please send more bars asap.)

The race also has a nasty little twist at 70km. There’s a stair climb up to

An added attraction of a stairclimb to Buffavento Castle.

An added attraction of a stairclimb to Buffavento Castle.

Buffavento Castle. That will certainly give the legs an extra hammer of fun.

While the hills will be a challenge the heat shouldn’t and I for one am looking forward to some cracking trails and spectacular views. And of course hoping I don’t take a wrong turn anywhere 😉

Find out more about the race here: http://www.castlesultra.com/

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