UTMB 2014

I feel like this week has literally flown by. This time last week I was returning home from Sweden victorious from the first Ultravasen ultra race. Since then I’ve shoehorned in some work, unpacked, washed some clothes, re packed and jumped back on a plane to Chamonix to immerse myself in Ultra Trail Mont Blanc fever. I had decided last month straight after the Out Run the Sun event that I wanted to come back and see what all the fuss was about, so I booked some flights before even thinking about accommodation. I had totally fallen in love with Chamonix and the stunning trails all around and after just a little taster of the course I couldn’t wait to be back out there again. I also thought it would be great timing after running 90k the previous weekend to just kick back and enjoy the party atmosphere.

I really wasn’t disappointed. The town had been totally transformed into a mountain ultra running festival and it felt like everyone was taking part in one of the 5 races (OCC-50k, TdS-115k PTL- 300k,CCC- 100k, UTMB 160k). The great thing about the event is that everyone who completes one of the races gets a North Face green gillet to wear with pride so they are instantly recognisable (as well as walking like John Wayne!!). As well as hanging out with friends and supporting fellow ultra nut Simon Freeman in the CCC I got the opportunity to consider whether actually taking part in one of the races could be a possibility for me one day. The UTMB starts on the friday at 5.30pm and with a 100 miles to run over high mountain passes the finish times can range between 21hrs and 48hrs……yes that could mean two nights out in the mountains in potentially hideous weather conditions. There are plenty of fully stocked check points along the course with cut off times but apart from these welcome breaks its a tough old slog up and down big mountains on technical terrain with potentially little company apart from your own breathing and the odd marmot.
Don’t get me wrong, watching the lead man come into the last check point in course record time was truly inspiring but I have to say my respect goes out to the back markers. Spending all that time out there with plenty of opportunities to throw it in and climb into a warm sleeping bag with a hot mug of cocoa deserves a medal. They showed not only physical strength but even more mental toughness just get to the end in one piece and I have to say something I am not willing to try for a long while yet. May be one day I will feel the need to do it but for now I think my limit is 100k. The weekend taught me a lot of things but mainly that the human body and mind is an amazing thing and if you are truly up for it anything is possible. Secondly it taught me that I can easily eat a whole jar of Nutella in 3 days and I can also pack away a fair amount of cheese as long as its washed down with red wine!

For now I am just getting back into some easy running after a week off and apart from picking up a bit of a cough I really have recovered super quick however I still think it best to not over do it no matter how itching I am to run more miles. Being amongst some of the best ultra runners in the world over the past week has really ignited my running mojo and I am excited about what the rest of the year holds for me. I have a few race opportunities to consider so watch this space!

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