Daan Coenen – Ultra Trail Runner

The running blog > La Belle Hivernoise

I ran La Belle Hivernoise

December 25, 2023

La Belle Hivernoise Daan Coenen

I ran La Belle Hivernoise trail race 23 km in Liège and this is how it went!

PRE race

I only found out about this race a week before the start. I’ve got a weakness for running in Belgium because of the elevation and since it is quite close to home. Those are the main reasons I keep coming back to these races. This race was like any other, locals directing it and running in the small but fun green scenery of Liege.

I singed up the Belgium way via a Google form and went on my way to Liège!

Upon arriving, I drove into an old looking area with mixed housing such as flats and family homes. I collected my bib at the local sportscenter which was all very well organized via the Belgium way ;).

I was way too early so I had some time to explore the area a bit, which was fun.

The start

The start was delayed by 15 minutes. A lot of the runners participating in this race looked fast, but I could see these were all local runners. I knew I wasn’t going to get a spot on the podium, but a high ranking was possible!

There I stood waiting for the start at 10:45. The final instructions were given and off we went!

Immediately the pace was high, we went up in elevation very fast and my goal was to see how fast the front guys really were. Some men slowed down after a few minutes of running up the hill, but I was feeling relatively okay. I kept running with the front guys till we hit this road that went up a little. The front-runners set a pace of sub 4 per kilometres, which I couldn’t do at that time. So I kept running my own pace and formed a little group with a few runners.

The course

I knew this run was hilly! When signing up, it said 500 elevation meters in 20 km of running. Looking back at the stats, it was two massive climbs, each lasting around 5 km, then followed by 5 km of descending.

The first climb was a tough one. I did not know what to expect. My heart rate went up and pretty much stayed that lever the whole race. Going up the first hill, I kept the pace going, even hitting sub 4’s. Then around the 30-minute mark I decided to slow down a bit on the climbs but still hit around 7’s. Then descending the first climb, I picked up the pace till the second climb where I simply couldn’t run any more. This due to energy but also due to the technical trail. The night before it had rained quite a lot, so some parts were very slippy and muddy.

During this climb, I caught up to the guy in front of me. I was behind him for the entire race, almost, and my climbing was stronger than his was. I caught up to him on this climb, but he kept up eventually after the climb was done. He even cleared up the gap at around km 15 which was insane. I was on my knees that moment and so was my heart rate haha. I decided to push and keep up with the guy that I had just passed on the climb. I said to him, ‘Let’s get them’, referring to the two guys running at about 400 meters in front of us. He said yes and off we went. Pushing in these moments is something you need to learn, experience is everything. Knowing the boundary and going a little further just needs practice. It took a while to make up the gap, but we eventually passed the two. They tried to keep up our pace, but we took their soul by passing them. This is the moment when you can be beaten down as a runner, like me, I was down and out. But when you then manage to pass someone and even keep up the pace, you take their soul. Their mind will start to play with them, and they can’t manage to get back from it. Only the experienced once can do this. Then my buddy said, ‘now it’s go time!’. This was only descending, and I absolutely smashed the last km’s. As you can see, the pace went up insanely and I even lost my buddy on the way down.

La Belle Hivernoise Daan Coenen stats

Finish

Finishing up the run with a thanks to the guy that paced me and pushed me to go further! I finished 10th place that race with a 01:36:25 time. Quite fast considering the 500 meters of climbing.