Fastpacking the GR20

ehbarker

Posted: Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 22:29

There is a little bit of info on the web about running the GR20, but not much - Killian Jornet's record run in 30 hours and one group who stage-raced it in 5 days. So I thought I would write up our experience running it in 7 days the first week of June 2012 for anyone interested in doing it faster than the standard 10-15 days.

7 days was reasonably leisurely for us, not a race, but not lazing around either. It allowed us to do 2 stages per day most days with an hour lunch stop. We added up our 'running time' at the end which came to 47 hours although this time included a few swimming/photo/snack stops too so might be more like 44. We also didn't leave until 8am most days and still finished around 3 or 4pm. We had the Cicerone guidebook and we seemed to do a stage in almost half the time the book said without trying too hard. I would recommend getting the French Topo guidebook if your French is remotely passable rather than the Cicerone book. Much smaller, and it has copies of the IGN maps in the book so you don't need to carry all the IGN maps (which we did!) as well. I would recommend always doing the high level variation unless the weather is bad. Monte Cinto, Corsica's highest oeak is also worth doing although the Cicerone guidebook is wildly out timewise. It took us 6 hours, with no hanging around. The book says 7 hrs which was the only time we broke our 'halve the time the book says' rule. There is some great scree running....

For us (as amateur moderately fit/fast off-road runners, but nothing to write home about) the terrain was mostly not 'runnable' - probably 50% low grade scrambling/rock balancing, 25% steep uphill and 25% running, but you can still move fast over this terrain. It was dry the entire week though and since much of the terrain is rocky and steep I would guess you need to move with more care if the rock is wet, especially all the rock slabs.

We carried very little (just 30 litre packs which weighed around 6kg) which allowed us to move faster than most. To minimise how much we carried we stayed either in refuges or gites or a hotel in Vizzavona, and bought dinner, breakfast most days although occasionally we carried pasta or bought food in the refuge shops to cook or snack on. Canistrelli are great! Take some matches so you can cook in the huts. We did not take a stove or sleeping bags, just liners and a bivvy bag and sometimes slept in our fleece although in midsummer I doubt you would need even a bivvy bag as it would be warmer. We were never cold really. We shared toiletries (soap, airline mini toothpaste, suncream, trekking towel etc) and phone charger and took one pair of shorts, a couple of t-shirts, running tights and fleece and handwashed things every few days in the gites. The snow was almost nothing so no problems with having only inov-8s on our feet. The only luxuries we had were a book (which we shared), an ipod, swimstuff (there are loads of great rock pools to jump into and beach at at the start and finish!), some very, very thin lightweight flip flops and a skirt and t-shirt to wear in Calvi where we flew in and in Bonifacio before we flew out of Figari.

General points - Vizzavona was great, very chilled and peaceful (stay a night here), Haut Asco also nice, Refuge Petra Piana horrible (although beautiful scenery), Usciolu very fun, Bavella stunning (stay a night here) and very fun scrambling as was Cirque du Solitude.

Good luck if you have a go!

Liz

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Liz



Rickard

Posted: Mon, Jul 2, 2012, 11:11

Very nice info, regarding the packs, 6 kg with or with out water?

Kind regards



daskew

Posted: Mon, Jul 2, 2012, 20:04

Just wondering if you used trekking poles or not? I'm also a long distance trail runner and don't generally use poles unless I am packing a heavy load. Curious as to whether most people use poles on the trek, it definitely seems to be generally a more popular thing in Europe than in the USA. Thanks.
Deborah



Dave Ramsay

Posted: Tue, Jul 3, 2012, 10:00

Liz

Good and useful information. I picked up the TOPO book as suggested and it does have the maps in a compact form if following the trail, with a couple of alternate "deviations". Good advice even if your French is poor like mine. Of course not much use if you go off the route.

Which Inov-8 shoes did your party use - I have Roclite 295's but was thinking of taking my Boots plus Inov-8's until I read your note. Likewise I will be a c. 5kgs - 7 kgs pack so ankle support not critical for the weight - what was your experience on the tough scrambles? would boots help? I think the Inov-8's may be a good additional at 300 gms but I am now slightly undecided - I am going first week September so do not expect bad conditions and I hope to complete the route in a similar time.

Dave

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Dave Ramsay



ehbarker

Posted: Tue, Jul 3, 2012, 13:30

Hi, our packs were probably 5.5kg without water so perhaps 6-7kg with water depending on how much we had. We never needed to carry more than 2 litres. We had Camelbaks and a water bottle.

We did not use poles. In fact neither of us have ever used them although I have considered it. We did see people with them but since it is so scrambly for much of the time I can't see how useful they would be, unless you are expert in using them.

Liz

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Liz



ehbarker

Posted: Sat, Jul 7, 2012, 18:27

Hi Dave,

Inov-8s are absolutely fine. But I hate wearing boots now as I can't feel the ground and what's going on and they feel so heavy! I really could never see any need for boots, especially as there was virtually no snow. There are lots of rock slabs at an angle, some quite steep and I was able to simply walk straight down these, never slipped, Inov8s grip is so good. I had a very old pair of flyrocs and they were still fine but Roclites would also be good. Since there is very little mud there's no need for more extreme shoes like x-talons or mudclaws.

Liz

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Liz



LADYU

Posted: Mon, Aug 8, 2016, 14:56

Hi Liz, Dave, Deborah and all those on this thread,

I stumbled across this post whilst online. I'm doing some research into people's experiences of fastpacking for a multi-day trail running guidebook (proceeds going to John Muir Trust) and some magazine features.

I wondered if you'd be willing to chat (or email) to me about your experiences? If you'd be happy to help, please contact me on lilyadyu@gmail.com.

Lily

ps. Some examples of my published work are here http://lilydyu.pressfolios.com