As if the week couldn’t get any better we were informed that an early morning run was to be held up on the high plateau above Font Romeu with the one and only Paula Radcliffe. Excitement and anticipation was tempered with what this may hold for us. Are there any similarities to the way the Salomon athletes train and the womens World Marathon record holder ? The answer was very easy to see within the first few minutes out on the trails. Paula loves to run trail. Music to the ears of us all at Ultra168 where we find bitumen such a bind.
Even better news was that this was a recovery run for the 2.15 marathoner, so the pace would be relative to my ability, especially when I had to keep reminding myself that we were always well above 2000m and the hills were mountains !
After a quick warm up we ended up on a series of flat trails in the valleys above the village. It soon became clear that this was a runners mecca. Coupled with the track facilities in Font Romeu, a number of the worlds best track and road athletes base themselves in this part of the world during the European summer because of the wonderful trails radiating off the plateau. Paula Radcliffe likes it so much she has a house in the village and her eldest child goes to school there.
Once we had finished the run, we had the chance to fire some questions at Paula, ranging from her preference for the trails, London Olympics prospects and the all important secrets to her training program. It became clear she is an exponent of high mileage and the majority if this is done at altitude and on trail – Nice !
During this look into what makes Paula one of the elites elite we were joined by a series of other runners making their way around the 3 & 5km course including GB 10k talent Olympic Gold hopeful, Mo Farah, fresh from claiming the UK and European record at the Prefontaine Classic earlier in the summer.
Having been in awe of the likes of Kilian, Miguel Heras and Jonathan Wyatt making running look easy over the last few days, it was incredible to see this go up a notch with the best athletes on the planet make it look so graceful and deceiving in their speed over the ground and effortless high cadence. I was like a giant sponge trying to soak up all the aspects of why these runners are at the top of their respective trees. My head is still spinning trying to take it all in.
To be continued………..