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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Race report reading


I’ve started reading race reports to prepare for Diagonale des Fous.

Here are bits from Joe Grant’s from 2012 and a few of my initial thoughts about this race.

“Let me start from the beginning. 2,700 runners are lined up for the twentieth anniversary of La Diagonale des Fous(English: The Diagonal of Fools) on Reunion Island; a small island east of Madagascar. The atmosphere is unlike anything I’ve ever seen at a race. Thundering African drums set the rhythm accompanied by cheering and clapping. Runners push and shove their way forward as the countdown begins. At 10 pm, the human wave is unleashed into the night.”  

African drums are good.

(“Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True Love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest Ladies. Snakes. Spiders… Pain. Death. Brave men. Cowardly men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles.”
“Sounds okay,” I said and I kind of closed my eyes.” — William Goldman, The Princess Bride)

“Heavy rain and thick fog make for poor visibility. It’s chilly, but not unbearable and I’m happy with just a windbreaker over my t-shirt.”

What???  If Joe Grant is chilly in his windbreaker, I’m going to be hypothermic.  I thought I was going to have an advantage with all our Texas autumn heat right.  It was 90F with 58% humidity today.  Guess I’ll pack a puffy jacket…

“We make our way through Mare à Boue (appropriately translated as mud pond) before the trail kicks up again for the second major ascent toward Piton des Neiges. We are literally running up a creek bed with water gushing down the rocky path.”

Mare à Boue means mud pond? Maybe I won’t listen to all those French lessons my dad loaned me.  I’d much rather count down the miles to Mare à Boue than to Mud Pond.   Also, I can’t say I’ve ever run up a creek before.  Maybe it’ll be nice after all the boue.

“For logistical purposes, I’d split the race into three section. The start to Cilaos (about 45 miles) would roughly be the night portion. Then, Cilaos to Maido (about 30 miles) is run through Mafate and will most likely be very hot. Finally, after emerging from the cirques, Maido to the finish, will be more coastal running with a mix of rough technical terrain, road and tight singletrack through the sugarcane plantations.”

Very hot. I’ve practiced very hot.  Sounds good.   And, yup, this is the Mafate that excited the Hoka folks.

Joe was sick for most of the race, and he struggled mightily before dropping later. I skimmed through his suffering until I hit this bit:

“My experience is put in perspective the day after, when I learn that a man took a fatal fall on the course…. It seems pointless and selfish of me to dwell on my relative discomfort during the race when someone lost their life. “


“Have fun storming the castle!”

Comments 2
  • Alison
    Posted on

    Alison Alison

    Reply Author

    “Inconceivable.” “You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    Note to self: Must watch The Princess Bride again. Best Movie Ever. Loved this blog!

    • Liza
      Posted on

      Liza Liza

      Reply Author

      Anybody want a peanut?