What is the UTMB? – It is a race. Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc. Of 168km (give or take depending on the weather and alternative routes taken) and 9600m worth of vertical elevation. The fastest finishing in 20hours – incredibly fast (but it is also a long time to be out there running/power hiking) and the 1000’s of other competitors out there can take anywhere up to 46hrs. I can’t even comprehend that…yet…
But the mountains, our passion and an interest in the UTMB race bought 6 of us together in a 3 day journey along the stunning trails around and incredibly beautiful Mt Blanc and its surrounding mountain passes.
The French contingency of Andy Symonds, Julien Chorier, Francois D’Haene, Greg Vollet and Felix Dejey and then me (the nomad) set off to see what it was really like.
Day One: Les Contamines - Refuge Bertone – 8:30hrs - 50km
I could use words like incredible, stunning, amazing, out of this world…etc, but nothing would come close to how I felt. We climbed high and played, giggled, ran out of control through the snow. And being a summer person I don’t often get a chance to run in the warm sunshine at the same time as having snowball fights. I was content. I didn’t need anything else right there and then. I was bursting with happiness from the inside out. I think only some of these photos and a video that is under production might just start to explain.
Day Two: – Champex – 5hrs Total - 40km
WET, Rain, WET, Rain, WET…where did summer go? The Cols were blistering cold and almost white outs. The snow was getting slushy but the little wild flowers were able to poke their bright blue and yellow faces out to the light after a winter hidden away.
Day Three: Champex – Chamonix – 5hrs Total - 40km
The summer came back for out final day…and the guys must have had extra coffee for breakfast as they set a blistering pace along the winding trails to the first mammoth ascent of the day. Finally with some big days, little niggles started creeping in to our bodies as we headed into Chamonix for Gelati and Cider.
It was an incredible 3-days with super friends and support. I remain undecided whether or not UTMB is for me. It is an extremely long way. A trail to be respected. I am still really enjoying running fast and racing hard. To me this race is more about perseverance. About keeping the mind happy. About pushing through pain until the end. It is a battle with self. A journey with others. We will see…