You’d think Jola Dewerenda would have picked a nice easy one for her first ever trail race. One to perhaps ease her in gently. In fact, that was not the case at all. She had signed up for the Lament Świętokrzyski 37.3km race back in her native country of Poland, with a route that incorporated 700m of vertical ascent. It was certainly going to be big challenge but she was up for it. And she didn’t want to just complete it either. She wanted to do well.
That meant putting some good long runs in in training in the weeks and months leading up to the race. She did just that though, with a 15 mile run 7 weeks before, followed by a 16 mile run and an 18 mile run over the next few weeks. She then upped the anti further with a 20 mile run before finally completing a 21.75 mile distance two weeks before the big event.
That training block showed that she had a great work ethic and wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty to give herself a better chance of performing well on the day. She was going into it knowing that the distance would be manageable for her. But of course, the mountainous terrain would make it that much tougher, with the climbs significantly adding to the challenge.
Because it was in the mountains and was such a long distance race, there was a long list of equipment that Jola had to get together and take with her on her run. That was something she hadn’t really done before so it brought an added pressure to the occasion. Having the right kit for a run like that was very important.
Although it was slightly under marathon distance, if you consider the elevation she had to face, it was most certainly the equivalent of a marathon at least. The race began with an incline that went on for the majority of the first mile, then it was mostly downhill for the next couple of miles. Jola made a good solid start before embarking upon the next incline which wasn’t massively steep but went on for the next three miles.
Then there was a very sharp downhill drop which looked almost vertical on the elevation graph, followed by a more slight decline for the next couple of miles taking her to the 10 mile point. The tougher climbs were still yet to come though and they were big. Extremely big!
The next two-and-a-half miles contained 1,000ft of elevation and it was super steep. Jola tackled it well though, reaching the 20k point in 1:54:12. That put her in 71st position overall at that stage.
For the next three-and-a-half miles it was back down the mountain, giving Jola a nice bit of respite, although some of the descending was quite tricky as she wasn’t used to running on that kind of rocky terrain.
At the 17.5 mile point is was time to start scaling the next big incline. It was another beast of a climb that went on for the next three-and-a-half miles, featuring another 1,000ft of elevation.
Considering it was her first trail race, Jola was handling it really well and for about 30km of the run, she was 4th placed female and was only a minute behind the lady who was 3rd.
Jola was hoping she might be able catch her on the flat surface but she struggled running down the hill. The rocks were tricky to negotiate and she was afraid that she sprain her ankle as she had no experience with running in the mountains.
On this section, she was passed by four girls and was knocked down to 8th place before managing to reclaim one of the places when they got back on the flat. In general, the conditions had been great, with no wind or rain, although the forest had been damp, muddy and slippery.
Finishing with a very strong 1.38 miles, Jola made it to the finish line in 3 hours 34 minutes and 55 seconds. That put her in 73rd place overall out of 301 finishers. She’d come in as 7th placed female, which was a fantastic result in her first ever trail race.
She hadn’t been expecting to so well at all but because she’d been in 4th place for most the race and was so close to the podium, it was tinged with disappointment that she didn’t make it. When all was said and done though, she was very proud of herself for how she performed and certainly went away from it with her head held high.
The distance came up at 23.38 miles and the elevation reached 2,780ft which shows what a long and challenging route it was. Conquering that and coping so well with the energy sapping climbs and dangerous descents showed Jola has the strength and character to excel when faced with a daunting and demanding task. For that, she deserves a lot of credit.