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Thomas Blanc prepares himself to suffer for his success

by Editor
Wednesday 17th June 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

Thomas Blanc prepares himself to suffer for his success

When we last spoke in March I had just joined Team Inov-8 OCR (HERE), I was back training and trying new things such as British Military Fitness (BMF). I was generally just having fun again after being injured for so long.

I decided, or more the urge got me, to race and do “Brutal 10”. Brutal is a 10k run on rough terrain, going up and down hills, through canals and generally mixed terrain. It is a good race but my ankle took a lot of pounding and I managed to damage it again. I would have been happy with a top ten finish, but I was really pleased to come third so soon after returning!

It was a good way to get back into racing but it made me focus more on my recovery and taking my time after my ankle scare. I ensured I was careful and when I began running again gently in Hyde Park, I did so on the sand to protect my ankle. I also did BMF, but scaled to make sure I did not aggravate it and generally just took my time with my training.

I decided in April, after feeling much better, to go to a Spartan Race Sprint in Rome and see where my fitness lay and how my ankle held out. The Sprint was 7k - 8k and was at one of the best locations I have ever raced at. We started on top of a hill and raced down it into a valley through lakes before climbing back up through the streets of villages and mountainous terrain.

The Sprint did not really have any obstacles that I had not seen before and it was more their location that surprised me. For example on top of one hill lay a church with monkey bars! There were a lot of good competitors there and I was pleased to come away with first place. I was a bit surprised to be honest but it was a good feeling to be back and to be winning. More importantly I qualified for the Spartan Race World Championships at an early stage to ensure I can concentrate on getting ready for October.

My next real test, in preparation for the Spartan Race World Championships, lay in Madrid in May. Spartan Race had decided to host a 'four race weekender' in Madrid consisting of a Super and a Sprint on Saturday and then the same again on the Sunday. Last year I won two in a day and I wanted to push myself, see where my fitness lay and take on four in a weekend. Some may call this crazy but the more I thought about the challenge the more it endeared itself to me.

Thomas Blanc prepares himself to suffer for his success

The Saturday morning held the Spartan Race Super which consisted of 14k of Spanish dusty trails and was fairly dry. This being said it was constantly undulating and there were never any real flat sections to find your pace. Even the finish line played host to a number of stairs at an auditorium so there was no let off. The obstacles were spread out and saw standard Spartan favourites such as the Spear throw but also included a memory test.

Everyone else started quite fast and I could not keep up with them. I am not there yet speed wise and I could just not match their pace. This being said I went all out to my ability and pushed to come home in third! I was disappointed that I did not have the extra speed that I had before, but I knew I had a long weekend ahead of me so did not want to use it all up at once.

Four hours later I was on the start line of the Sprint (6k) in the blazing Spanish sun in 32 degrees. It made a dry course crazy and the conditions were some of the hottest I have raced in. The first 1k had a huge climb and my legs were very tired, I became a little scared and thought that I would not make Sunday, so I would have to give it my best.

I managed to push through the obstacles at a much better pace, due to knowing them so well, and finish first against some strong athletes who had been much quicker than me. In good news for France, a lot of them were French and we managed to dominate the podium.

Sunday morning came and although my legs ached I decided to go to the event. Sadly within minutes of being there I signed back up and I was on the start line for the Super at 9am. It was, to my relief, the same course as the previous day and I was able to pace well, knowing when to push and when to hold back.

The only issue came from a Spanish athlete and an ultra runner, Martin Gaffuri, who both were really quick up the hills, whilst my legs were sluggish. I only won the race due to my obstacle knowledge as they were both quicker than me but also had forfeits due to failing the obstacles.

Due to the elation of the win I had three hours to register and I felt good for the final Sprint. Well mentally I felt good but my legs were shot. I kept with the first place man for the majority of the course to the Spear throw. He missed and took the forfeit to allow me to be first, or that is what I thought until I was told I was currently in second!

I was in the auditorium, pretty much at the end of the race, with a sandbag carry followed by a rope climb and a barb wire crawl. I saw the leader and I was able to pass him at the barbwire crawl, which was about 20 metres from the finish line! I was really relieved, despite leaving it so close and late to take the win, as I find it really hard to 'race' each time. Had it been for fun it would have been fine but to push so hard, so many times was tough and I really had to dig deep.

I wanted to test myself for the forthcoming Spartan European Championships and the World Championships, both fitness wise, to see if my ankle held out - it did thankfully, and to prepare myself to suffer for these events. One race would have been easy but this allowed me to experience pain and push for the win. This being said I need to work on my weighted carries, please do not be scared if you see a lunatic running round Hyde Park with a sandbag eating a Cliff bar!

Finally I would like to thank my new sponsor Trumin who have just come onboard with me - I hope to do them proud over the next few months. 

Thomas Blanc prepares himself to suffer for his success

To see Thomas’ journey over the next few months, please visit his Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Thomas.Blanc.OCR or for more information on Inov-8 OCR please visit: www.inov-8ocr.com

To contact Thomas please email: thomasblanc.run@gmail.com


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