Friday, 31st March 2023
Article Image

Q&A: Nicky Spinks and the L’Echappee Belle

by Editor
Friday 25th September 2015

When Nicky Spinks failed to get a place in the Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc®, she found a great alternative in the L’Echappee Belle (144km/10,900m ascent), an alpine ultra that offers a full crossing of the Belledonne moutains from Vizille (Isère) to Aiguebelle (Savoie), on the same weekend

Having spoken to Nicky ahead of the race (HERE), we thought we'd check in with her to find out more about her race:

Question What happened - a short summary of your race:


Nicky Spinks (NS): Overall I stuck rigidly to my plan of setting off slowly, eating a lot, not over doing it between midday and 5pm when I knew it was going to be extremely hot, then trying to run faster overnight to minimise the amount I would have to do in the heat the next afternoon.

Question Anything you are particularly proud of:


NS: Sticking to my pacing when women came passed me early on. Enjoying it and taking in the views. Also after 18 hours I actually did feel completely ready to continue for another 18 hours.

Question The biggest surprise was:


NS: Charmian and Steve walking into a CP they said they couldn't get to. I was so pleased to get more food and drink (and to see them of course!) The beauty of the mountains. The amount of rock!


Question The good


NS: The Inov-8's 290 were fantastic. My heels were sore but that was my fault; I should have filed off the hard skin I get from wearing wellies before the race.

Question the bad


NS: Picking up some Komperdell poles and leaving behind my Mountain King ones.

Question and the ugly


NS: my plasters had all melted and wouldn't stick to my heels.

Question The heat - how did you cope with it


NS: I tried to drink a lot, I added Zero tablets and energy powder to one bottle. I wore a peaked cap and dunked it in the streams. I slowed down at 3/4pm when it was hottest. Overnight I made myself drink and ate crisps so that come Sunday I was completely rehydrated.

Nutrition and hydration

Question What did you carry in addition to what was provided at the checkpoints?


NS: Brunch bars (which didn't melt in the heat) S&V crisps, hula hoops, fruit puree,  gels, gel blocks, bananas.

Question What did you eat


NS: I had pasta soup which I drank the water from then took the pasta so I could eat little and often on the go. With having support I was able to eat Heinz beans and fruit salads as well.

Question How much/often did you drink


NS: There were 10 CP's in 100 miles. I always drank 2 x 500 ltr bottles inbetween but also filled up at streams on route of which there were plenty.

Question Any strange cravings?


NS: Fish and chips with curry sauce! That had to wait until I got home on Tuesday though.

Question Did you use poles (why or why not) and did they work for you?


NS: I used poles from about three hours in on the climbs and then in the last 30km on the downs to try and reduce the bashing my feet were getting. My poles were light and easy to carry. The ones I picked up by mistake were heavier and it was easier to use them than carry them. They did have good handgrips though so for sections where it was undulating I just held them rather than using the wrist loops.

Question Race HQ during race week:


NS: Because L'Chappee Belle is linear the sort of centre is the Finish. But even that was very quiet. We camped halfway at Pontcharra which was a quiet sleepy town. It was so relaxed at the Finish while people were finishing - we wandered back and forth to the parking/camping field and just sat on chairs near the finish drinking the free beer and clapping runners in. 

Question How do you feel about your race now?


NS: I want to do it again! I want to locate the fabulous views and walk over the areas that I passed through in the night. I have that lovely post race feeling when 99% of it went right and I'm totally satisfied. Having said that with more training I think I can do better!

Question Which athlete or performance impressed you most?


NS: The first woman, Emilie Lecomte, finished third in 30 hours, which is incredible. She was also lovely and up on the podium wanted me and Jean Brown to climb up onto her pallet (the stage was made of pallets!). 

Question The craziest thing you saw


NS: I couldn't see it because it was dark but the descent off Col Moretan was incredible. A rope down some hard packed snow initially followed by a huge unstable rock field. Like coming off Tryfan direct I would imagine. I learnt how to use the rope and it was great!

Question The most moving thing you saw


NS: After prize giving the volunteers all rushed off. We thought they had to get back to their jobs, but no, word had come in that the last finishers were arriving and they all went to escort the finishers in. Emilie had won a huge cow bell and she came walking in with them ringing the bell. It just added to the immense feeling that I got, that these organisors really cared about their mountains and their runners. 

Find out more about the L’Echappee Belle visit: www.lechappeebelledonne.com

Read more about Nicky Spinks' and race HERE


Related Articles

Article Image
Run Forever: the Nicky Spinks filmWe went along to a screening of the Nicky Spinks film, Run Forever, followed by ...
Article Image
Nicky Spinks: what's the secret of her s...I went on Nicky's Spinks's '24 Hour Round and Ultra Race Course' and found out s...
Article Image
UTMB 2016: the aftermathWe caught up with some of the top Brits and a top Aussie post-UTMB
Article Image
UTMB 2016: top runners talk about their ...Our runners talk about race day hopes, fears and tears
Article Image
Huge congratulations to Nicky Spinks!She did it! The DOUBLE Bob Graham Round
Article Image
Inspirational Nicky Spinks attempting DO...Cancer survivor Nicky Spinks to celebrate 10 year post-diagnosis with a double B...
Article Image
Fort William Mountain Festival 2015 prog...Race news: The Fort William Mountain Festival 2015 - February 18-22, 2015

Post A Comment

TereréJordan Blood