The world of trail running has a new power couple – meet Germain Grangier and Katie Schide. The boyfriend-girlfriend duo are outstanding talents in their own right, but put them together and, as proven this summer, they’re almost unstoppable! Germain and Katie not only topped the mixed pair podium at the three-day Pierra Menta Ete race in France but also repeated that feat when teaming up at the iconic six-day TransRockies Run in the USA. So what makes this trail running couple tick? Katie takes up the story of their summer of success in this new blog post:
Germain popped the question in early December: “Do you want to race the Pierra Menta Ete with me in 2017?” Then, a few months later, TransRockies Run invited us both to take part as a team in six days of racing on foot through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. And so our summer plans were sorted – 2 epic races, 9 days of running, 260km, 14,000m of ascent… and all of it together, side-by side. We couldn’t wait to see what would happen.
During the early part of Summer 2017 we travelled to a few races together, sharing the warm-up and a start-line hug, before the gun sounded and Germain shot off with the front runners. I wouldn’t see him again until about 1-2 km from the finish when, his race already run, he would cheer me to the line. Sometimes I looked at my watch mid-race – my own legs heavy and lungs burning – and realised that Germain was probably finishing. I’d feel both pride and a strong sense of resentment.
So when the gun sounded on the first day of the Pierra Menta Ete something strange happened – Germain didn’t bolt off with the top men. Instead we ran together as a pair through the town. As the route turned to single track trail, Germain took the front position, a few meters in front of me. And then the next strange thing happened – a small carabineer was thrust in front of my face and I was clipped in for my first-ever ride on the elastic!
Elastic is in the spirit of the race!
Elastic, I hear you shout. What?! The use of a piece of elastic in some team racing, such as skimo and swimrun competitions, is actually quite common. It allows either individual to run/walk/ski/swim in front of his/her team-mate and pull them along using the elastic. We used it on the ascents at Pierra Menta Ete, with Germain at the front and me getting a tow behind. Indeed, many teams opted to use the elastic during Pierra Menta Ete… according to one of the race directors: “The elastic is in the spirit the race!”
The elastic is attached to the rear of the vest pack worn by the person in front. At the other end, a carabineer clips to the centre strap on the front of the other person’s vest pack. On steep downhills, narrow trails and technical rocky sections we ran without the elastic to avoid getting tangled up or tripping over one another. Depending on how hard Germain decided to pull, it would provide anything from a small nudge of support to a full-blown drag up a steep slope. We typically operated at the lower end of this scale. Except, that is, for a few extreme moments, like the last climb at the Pierra Menta Ete when the trail was so steep that the elastic grazed my face, while Germain clawed up the hill above.
Hugs and whites lies are acceptable
Though we didn’t talk a lot during the races, Germain would sometimes break the silence with a “Great job, you’re so strong!” Other times he would crack a dad-joke about whether I wanted still or sparkling water. On the second day of the Pierra Menta Ete, I was feeling sick, slow, and unmotivated. Quickly realizing this, Germain stopped to give a me hug and tell me I was doing great (white lies are acceptable mid-race). We shared these moments not only as racing partners, but also as partners outside of running. From racing through a via-ferrata in freezing rain to efficiently navigating a grocery store, we have become a team in all aspects of life.
And what made these 9 days of racing so special was sharing them as a couple. Running through hot, dusty Colorado covered in a mixture of sunscreen, dried sweat and sticky orange juice may not seem like the typical romantic getaway, but when you find someone who still loves you despite breaking wind in their face, you know you’ve struck gold!
Results: Pierra Menta Ete (France) – 1st mixed pair. TransRockies Run (USA) – 1st mixed pair.
Kit: Germain ran in the ROCLITE 290 and Katie the MUDCLAW 300 at the Pierra Menta Ete, which included plenty of soft and muddy mountain terrain. Both wore the ROCLITE 290 shoe for the entirety of the six-stage TransRockies Run (completed in an accumulated time of 14hrs 15mins). In the spirit of sharing – and helped by the fact they have the same shoe size – the couple wore one of each other’s shoes (one red, one grey) for tackling the hard-packed trails in Colorado. The vest packs they used were the ALL TERRAIN PRO VEST and the RACE ELITE VEST.
Photos: Raven Eye Photography (images from TransRockies Run)