Liza Howard

Liza Howard

Liza Howard is a national champion runner with multiple records in distances ranging from marathons to 100 mile trail races.

September 2017
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More DdF race report reading


After annotating Joe Grant’s Diagonale des Fous race report yesterday, I figured we could go through a few of them together and see what we could learn.

Here’s the next one that came up by a fellow named Jalmin.

“When I decided to participate to “La diagonale des fous” back in august 2015, I had no idea where I was setting foot. Ok, I had already finished a couple of ultra-trail races (Ecotrail, maxi-race, etc ) but La Diagonale is not just another ultra trail, it’s a myth.”

Myth, eh?  I’m sitting in my mom pajamas at the kitchen counter surrounded by family clutter half-way into my first cup of coffee, and I’m not sure how I feel about running a myth.  Jalmin includes a great map of the course.

“First, there is the length: 167kms, it’s long but that’s not all. Then, there is the elevation: 9700 m, it’s a lot but there is more. There is mainly La Réunion, a volcanic island.”

But WAIT! There’s more!

“Reunion, it’s an incredible playground for trail running, I fancied its beauty but I could not imagine its difficulty.”

I don’t know, I can imagine some difficult things. I mean, maybe Jamlin’s just not all that imaginative a guy….

“I arrived at La Réunion, Monday morning (D-Day -4) to get used to the climate (it’s the beginning of summer here) and the landscape.”

Oh, I’m ready for summer.  It’s 6am and already 75 degrees, and it’s going up to 90 today. So I’ve got that going for me.  He goes on to detail more of his pre-race prep. 

“Entering the starting area is quite a long process, to drop supply bags, check mandatory equipment, etc. I had to wait for 2 hours, so I put myself aside from the crowd to rest and concentrate. It is 9:40pm, start is in 20 minutes, we are called to line up in the starting area.”

Mandatory equipment. Right. I need to get that list.  (Don’t judge me unless you pair that criticism with an offer to watch my three year-old for the week.) Also, this 10pm start; I’m not sure how I feel about it. What with the jet lag, it might be a fine time to start. But a 2-hour wait to start? That sounds grim. Maybe I’ll practice my French.  “The weather is good.”  “My name is Liza.”   “Where is the library?

“….Here we go, I’m running along the seaside, quite fast, 12km/h as planned then slow down in the first up-hills. I packed my backpack with a lot of water to skip the first refreshment point and keep up climbing among sugar cane fields.

I’m feeling good, there are a lot of people cheering along the road, big fireworks on the beach, it’s great.”

I think 12 km/h is about an 8 min/mile pace.  Well, if he’s running that fast, it’ll be interesting to read the rest of this report tomorrow. 

Running: 1 hour easy with a few pickups.

Friday was a hilly 25 miles.  I tried to do as much vertical as Tussey has. It’s so flat here, I have a really poor sense of what 5400 feet over 50 miles will mean.  The 1/2 mile neighborhood hill has about 200ft of gain.  Don’t laugh! The road is actually called Blue Mist Mountain. I’d really love to know the story of how it was named. Was it just some out-of-shape flatlander who named it, or is it an aspirational name lobbied for by the hill itself?


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