As part of my preparation for the World Cups, we headed over to Belgium for the Roc d’Ardenne XCM, a well established race. Having never been to Belgium before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I found was a fantastic course, with some real technical sections, punchy climbs and mud, lots of mud!

We normally arrive a few days early so we can have a look at some of the key areas on the course. One massive mistake I made was not checking the race schedule ahead of time, I had planned to look at the last 10km loop on Saturday; however, unbeknownst to me there was the e-bike race on that day, and not possible to get out on course. The last 10km of the course was super technical with some steep climbs and involved descending and I did not do myself justice in that section.

Due to having unplanned surgery 7weeks prior my fitness was not where I would want it to be. Especially since I had come off the back of the La Santa 4 Stage race feeling fantastic. The last hour was a bit too much for my fitness levels. But this was a race to see where the holes in the fitness where and there were a lot of positives to take away. Like the start; in true Belgium style the start went straight up a steep long climb. I had done some practice intervals on the climb in the days prior which gave me confidence I wasn’t going to blow up. There were some big hitters on the start line, all ranked higher than me in the UCI standing, when the gun went off, I was surprised that I was climbing with the front runners, with 30 seconds of the climb left I talked myself out of keeping up and let the front 5 or 6 girls get away. This was self-belief rather than fitness, and riding with the same racers a few weeks later at Nove Mesto, I think we had a bit of slow start!!

The mud made for slow going, and a top 10 was a better result that I could have hoped for that soon after injury. All in all it’s a race I would definitely go back to again. The atmosphere was fantastic and any race that finishes by passing through the beer tent, is an absolute win!

If you’d like some help with your training to race MTB marathons, please drop me a message or get in touch below.

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