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Setbacks on the road to the Spartan Race Championships 2015

by Editor
Wednesday 17th December 2014
 
 

Follow one of obstacle course racing's nicest and most successful athletes, Thomas Blanc, on his journey to the Spartan Race World Championships 2015

Follow one of obstacle course racing's nicest and most successful athletes, Thomas Blanc, on his journey to the Spartan Race World Championships 2015

Photos © Nuclear Races

I will be honest, to start, I am not in the best shape at the moment. When I last wrote my blog (HERE) I was recovering from my stress fracture from the Spartan World Championship and things were going well; my recovery and the road back to racing was looking positive.

My body felt good and I was starting to recover; I had cycled a lot, sadly not that much swimming, and I was taking it easy - step by step. I was really happy with the way I had recovered and how my body had been reacting to my gradual training. I felt good and by the time the Nuclear Races “Fallout” came round; I was ready to see how far I had come and test myself.

I believed that the Nuclear Races would be a good test of how strong my foot was and where my fitness levels lay. I was really pleased, from the start of the race, as I was able to stay with James Appleton and Ross Macdonald (two of OCR's leading athletes and members of Team inov-8 OCR) for the first half of the race.

I stayed with them until the obstacle known as "Hang Tough" (an obstacle that is a metal rig where you are required to cross by swinging across Olympic Rings from one side to the other). I think I am being honest when I say that I never fail at obstacles. Not usually. This time however, I do not know how or why, I lost my momentum and I was stuck hanging in the middle of the obstacle with no way of getting across. 

I decided to jump off; thinking I would start again. However I was unaware of the rules of Fallout that if you failed to do Hang Tough, you had to do a penalty lap. I was made to do a carry lap of running with a tyre (sometimes known as "energy sapping obstacles") and I lost about one minute on James and Ross.

Follow one of obstacle course racing's nicest and most successful athletes, Thomas Blanc, on his journey to the Spartan Race World Championships 2015

Photos © Nuclear Races

The race then became a matter of chasing them down.  Despite this setback, I was feeling pretty good and I was able to regain the third place just behind them. Fallout was one of the best races I have done this year - it had a lot of good obstacles, a lot of mud and is set over a good distance to really test yourself and I was really pleased to come third and more importantly with how my foot and fitness reacted.

In particular I was pleased to break the 40 metre mark for the Monkey Bars (competitors are offered a 110 metres!). This allowed me to catch up the top three as they all dropped out quite quickly from the monkey bars. I also got the chance to test myself and put my feet against Michael Cohen's hill ascent/descent obstacle, I am not sure of the title, which consists of going up and down, at least 10 times, small and steep hills. Some with ropes and all being very technical in nature.

It was really fun and my thing is downhill running, so I really enjoyed this and the feeling to be back doing this was nothing short of fantastic.

At the finish line I was feeling really good - I was unsure how well I would come back from my injury and I was really happy to see that I was fit again and ready to compete with the best. I felt so good that I decided to run again with Paul Hayward from Run247 and Pete Rees & Fi Silk from Mudstacle for a second lap. I managed to complete this with ease.  

After the strong performance in Fallout I was really looking forward to my next challenge, the Fisherman's Friend Strongman Run in Paris and going for the win.

The following week I made my way to Paris and I was delighted to be racing for my new sponsor, Trumin. I was really excited to show them that they were right to place their faith in me and to sponsor me. It was also my birthday so it gave me a chance to see my family and spend some time with them before the race on Sunday.

Follow one of obstacle course racing's nicest and most successful athletes, Thomas Blanc, on his journey to the Spartan Race World Championships 2015

Photos: Fisherman's Friend Strongman Run in Paris

The Strongman Run provided me with an opportunity to be reunited with, and compete against, Kunitz Koller.  I may have mentioned previously that he is the gentleman who has won Tough Guy three times and led Worlds Toughest Mudder in 2013 before becoming injured and Ryan Atkins taking the win. He is a very strong and fast guy in the OCR community and I joined him and three others in the leading pack from the start of Strongman Run.

I was the only leading French athlete, but the field was very competitive and I enjoyed being back. The first kilometre was obstacle free and I was running quite quickly. To give you an idea about pace, I was running at three minutes 20 seconds per kilometre and I was doing so without apprehension or hesitation. I was feeling very strong and when I came to first "classic" obstacles, such as crawls under nets with electricity and river crossings, I felt really confident and able to challenge for honours.

Then I met an obstacle I have never seen before - a wall of foam, like you would find at a foam party. In my mind I thought the landing would be soft, I do not know why, and I jumped in the middle of it. I landed on the pavement, the biggest mistake was to jump into something when I could not see what I was landing into, and when I hit the floor my leg was not in the right position and straight away I felt a sharp pain in my ankle and I collapsed.

I crawled out of the foam as I could not stand and I knew at this point the race was over. I thought I must have done something bad, as usually I do not stop racing regardless of the pain. The pain was unbearable and I simply could not continue. On receiving medical attention it turned out that I had possibly torn both of my ligaments on both of my ankles.

This has led me to spend much of the last two weeks in my bed with my legs up hoping for the best.

After some more tests and a MRI scan to ascertain the damage and how severe it is, he Doctor told me that there is a fracture at the base of my tibia. I had put so much tension on the bone that it snapped – hence the pain. I cannot believe that, after taking my time recovering and being careful, I am injured again. However I hope to be running, very gently, in the New Year.

Follow one of obstacle course racing's nicest and most successful athletes, Thomas Blanc, on his journey to the Spartan Race World Championships 2015

Photos: Fisherman's Friend Strongman Run in Paris

It is going to take time to come back and this is another set back, however I hope to be back in March or late February for the start of the OCR season. I do not want to rush it, I want to gain strength in my ankle. With OCR you need to have your ankles, and your health, a 100% and I do not want to risk it. I do not want to make it worse and worse, I want to be strong and I will take my time.

I have had to make a really difficult choice by cancelling a number of events over the coming months. To be honest it is breaking my heart and I am really struggling to keep smiling. I love racing and to be unable to train and compete is heart breaking. .

I have to be serious with this, I know it, and if I want to compete in this sport I need to take care of myself. It does not mean that it does not hurt or make me sad but I am overwhelmed with the support that I am getting from everyone. It has really helped me to keep my motivation and I am determined to come back much stronger.

I hope you all have a good Christmas and New Year and I will see you, hopefully, on the start line in March!

More information on Thomas can be found at: Facebook.com/ThomasBlancOCR

Click here for a video of Thomas at Spartan Race Boston

To view his race results profile see: www.muddyrace.co.uk/my-account/Thomas%20Blanc/ or for sponsorship enquires contact him by email on: thomasblanc.run@gmail.com

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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