For the participants of the 2016 Lanzarote multi-day training camp, it all got ‘real’ on day 6 and 7 of the camp.
It all started of with blue skies, sun and a 2 hour run without packs so that everyone had an opportunity to work on a little faster running. In most cases it was a great tempo 10-12 miles in the bag.
Following this we had a 2-hour talk, demo and an opportunity to test packs from WAA, OMM, Raidlight and Aarn with a very informative and enlightening discussion on bag packing from Elisabet Barnes. It really raised the question; what is and is not an essential item?
Ultimately the day (and night) was all about a medium length run of 2-3 hours and an overnight bivouac.
Heading out along the course, the runners departed in three groups: walking, run/ walking and ‘mostly’ running to a pre-arranged rendezvous on the coast.
Ian Corless moved ahead and set up camp inside an incredible and dormant volcano. Rendezvous time was 1900 and right on cue, the three groups all arrived from different directions within 15-minutes of each other.
Running with packs, the runners carried all essentials less the additional days food. Food requirements were snack for the run on both days, evening meal and snacks plus breakfast.
At the overnight bivouac we operated self-sufficiency, water was provided but rationed. The only treat came from 24 beers (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) transported in as a special treat.
A clear starry sky, camp fire and the illumination of head torches within the stunning setting of an amphitheatre of rock made everyone suddenly realise that it was one of the special moments.
It wasn’t all plain sailing though. One or two runners realised on the run that their chosen pack just wasn’t the one for them. This is the whole reason behind providing a real scenario such as this on a training camp. It’s invaluable to find out these issues before your chosen must-day race.
It was lights out, well, head torches out around 9pm and as the warm night drifted past midnight, the temperatures dropped. Unlike races such as Marathon des Sables, the night was damp lowering temperatures even more. One common thread with 0700 wake up call, a cockerel crow by Niandi, was, ‘My sleeping bag is not warm enough!’
Yes, it had been a rough night for some.
Elinor Evans said, “This experience has been incredibly invaluable. I have learnt my packs not right for, my sleeping bag is not warm enough and I need a warmer jacket. Last night was beautiful but also a little harrowing as I got so cold. Better here though than at my race!”
It was a sentiment echoed by Leon Clarance, “I was just cold last night. Despite additional layers, my sleeping bag was not warm enough. I also made the mistake of removing my socks. I woke up with feet of ice.”
In general though, freeze dried food and peoples selections seemed to hit the spot, apple pieces with custard proving to be a hit with those lucky enough to be carrying it.
The bivouac provided everyone with a very real and practical scenario and valuable lessons were learnt. A bivouac debrief back at Club La Santa will allow everyone to discuss this.
Leaving camp, the sun was getting higher in the sky, a new day and more valuable experiences to follow. But before that debrief, there was another 2-3 hours of running.
It’s been a great two days and night.
If you would like to join our 2017 camp, please go HERE
Many thanks to Raidlight, OMM, PHD, inov-8, Berghaus, Scott Running and MyRaceKit for the support