Macpac Ambassador and ultra-distance runner Vajin Armstrong has recently returned from his challenging seven-race European Tour.
After some weeks of rest and recovery, he’s already resumed his tough training regime as he gears up for his next big race.
He’s just got back from competing in some of Europe’s toughest long-distance races, but Vajin is feeling surprisingly good.
“My trip this year was fantastic, just having the time and opportunity to really pursue something that is meaningful to me was such a joy. I would highly recommend everybody to take some time out from their busy schedules to spend an extended period doing something that they love. I feel really refreshed and re-inspired and I am looking forward to a great summer ahead,” he says.
In the lead-up to the tour, Vajin was putting in some serious hours of training. He could regularly be seen running along Christchurch’s Port Hills and would often run over 200km a week. It was hard work, but it all paid off in the end, with Vajin seeing some incredible results, coming in at 3rd in the Swiss Alpine Marathon and second in the Laugavegur Ultra Marathon in Iceland.
“I’m really happy with my performance overall. I achieved some amazing results that I feel proud of,” says Vajin.
While all the other races went according to plan, things got pretty tough when Vajin came to face to face the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) at the end of his tour. It was a race Vajin had really been looking forward to, but unfortunately had to pull out of the race early after succumbing to injury.
“Coming into this year’s race, I felt I had done all I could to prepare myself for this event. This race is not like any other ultra in the world – especially at the front end of the field. It is really the race of dreams, and everyone goes into it hoping it’s going to be their day. It always attracts the deepest field of international athletes, and everyone is willing to really push the pace and their limits. The fact that the course is so unrelentingly challenging means that there is a high rate of athletes dropping out due to injury or exhaustion,” explains Vajin.
At about 70km into the UTMB. Vajin started to struggle with a minor injury, and due to the nature of the course, he had to withdraw by the time he made it to 100km.
“I just could not continue onwards, but I finished happy knowing that I had laid it all out there and given it my all. This is a race where you can’t really afford to have things go wrong, as when they do, they tend to be magnified by the difficulty of the course,” he says.
Overall, Vajin’s efforts are incredible, and he plans to return to France in 2017 to face the UTMB once again.
“It is a great thing having a challenge in your life that is so big and daunting that you are never really sure if or when you can conquer it – I’ll definitely be back.”
Vajin says the highlight of the trip was definitely the opportunity to train in a variety of difficult environments – a huge change of scenery from his usual training ground in Christchurch.
“Getting to spend an extended period of time training in the Alps during summer is definitely one of life’s great experiences for any mountain runner. The natural beauty, the food and just the amazing variety of trails makes the Alps a real trail runner’s paradise. Being able to get out day after day on new and spectacular trails really is like a dream come true.”
After a few weeks rest, Vajin is already thinking about his next race – the Kepler Challenge in December.
“I found that after couple of weeks off, I was already itching to get back out there. This, for me, is a good sign that I am ready to get back into some more serious training.”
Last Sunday it was Vajin’s first race of the new season out at the Boulder Bay Classic. “It’s a great event put on by the Sumner Runner Club on the Godley Head Walkway. We had beautiful weather and it was fun to be back racing. I managed to get the win in 39.44 for the 10.5km distance with some decent climbs in there.”, said Vajin. This weekend is the Selwyn running Festival this Sunday and ew wish Vajin and all the other competitors well.
Keep an eye on the Macpac Blog and Vajin’s Facebook Page for updates on his journey.