Fitness, training and last-minute preparations
We are fortunate enough to be well kitted out. Received as a birthday present, our ITIWIT x100 2-seater, in a vibrant canary yellow, has sat proudly in our living room since 16 May 2020. Until now, we had always been recreational paddlers, covering short distances often with an overnight bivouac stop (between 10 and 20 km). The occasional kayakers now had to rise to the challenge ahead. We quickly realised that there was no great secret: we just had to paddle. We started with a decent trip out every weekend (20-30 km) and a short one during the week at our favourite spot, located close to home, the Vidourle. We went all over: the Hérault, the Ardèche, the Gardon, Salagou Lake and of course the Tarn.
Our goal is simple: finish the race. To achieve this we know that we will need to keep a decent pace throughout the 80 kilometres because there are time limits for certain stages. We are realistic about our plans and we also know that our trusty kayak, despite how well it performs, will not be a speed machine in this adventure. In other words, its rounded curves make it top out at a certain maximum speed, beyond which the friction of the water slows it down. As such, during our few weeks of training we worked on finding a good cruising speed and synchronising our paddle strokes to stay in rhythm. A few TRX exercises complement the hours spent on the water and help strengthen our muscles (arms and back).
The highlights of this training programme were our two recce trips of the first 60 kilometres of the race, during which we tasted in the icy water of the Tarn in La Sablière rapids (grade 3) and met Fred, who joined us for our second training session from Rozier down to Peyre, just downstream of the Millau Viaduct.
We gained a good understanding of the course, its features and the portages, plus we received a few words of support from a veteran of endurance events, giving us some reassurance on the eve of the race.