Ikalana, Trail du Lévézou. Villefranche du Panat, Aveyron

A trot around the massif central countryside – 34km and supposedly 800m of climbing but my watch (Suunto T6) said only 690. Weather good, field of around 75. Got off to a decent start – this my third year at the event. Soon met up with an oldsport of my age (63) who intimated that the race was between us two. But after a couple of chats and me going ahead while he had a pee and vice versa, he pulled away and I saw no more of him.

I ought to tell you that I have what is called here the ‘maladie de Bouveret’ – which I think is supra ventricular tachycardia. This means that my heart rate tends to jump to rather high levels on occasion, during a race or even once, when opening a letter from then bank! I can feel some of these episodes as they start as a tickling at the back of the throat – which then appears on then heart monitor. But sometimes I get false readings which confuse the picture. These happen at the start of a session – when the heart monitor strap is dry and the electrical contact is poor. Moistening the contacts sometimes helps but not always. I usually now ignore such readings in the first 10-20 minutes of a session. But I have also noticed that on a hot day, when one is good and sweaty, more high readings can be caused – perhaps by some electrical issue with a wet T shirt.

Anyhow this year’s Ikalana was something of a worst case scenario for high heart rate readings. I was running along feeling fine in the second half of the race as the temperature was getting up and noticed that the watch was showing in the 160-170 range (instead of 130-150). I felt fine and to check as I was running along, lifted up my t shirt to expose my heart monitor (and rather large gut!) to the air – hey presto, readings dropped instantly to ‘normal’.

While conducting such an experiment that I caught my foot on a rock and fell. I am quite used to this and managed a shoulder roll (avoids damaging hands) but the shoulder hit a rock, causing considerable pain. I thought that I might give up then. But I managed to wave my arm around a bit and discovered that the forward and back arm motion required to run was relatively pain-free so decided to carry on.

I finished with quite a lot of energy left and even managed to pass a couple of folks in the home stretch. Final time of 3hrs53 -and came in 66th in a field of 73. Congrats to the seven other category 3 veterans (60 plus) who came in ahead of me – vive les old sports.

An embarrassing corollary however. About an hour after the race I nearly fainted (pain/shock from fall – excess tachy?) and needed a few minutes lying down to recover. The Red Cross folks were very nice – called in for support from a doctor who determined that what I probably needed was some food. She was right. Later on to the local hospital for an X-Ray of shoulder revealing nothing serious.