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The Chamonix diaries - Part 2

by kirsty
Wednesday 29th August 2012
Tags  The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc   |   The North Face   |   ULTRA-TRAIL DU MONT-BLANC   |   UTMB   |   TDS   |   CCC   |   PTL

Race coverage: Run247 columnist Kirsty Reade reports from The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® - August 29, 2012

Day 2 in Chamonix and excitement is building. The TDS will kick off tomorrow morning so by around 9.30pm tomorrow we will have our first finishers of the UTMB 2012. It all started to feel real for me today as I was able to register and pick up my number. So now I have the t-shirt but haven't been there, haven't done it, which always makes me feel uneasy. The t-shirt (a very nice North Face technical T) will stay in the wrapper until I hopefully complete it. The expo is now in full swing and I think it's any runner's idea of heaven. The chances of me leaving Chamonix without having signed up for another overseas ultra are very slim.

Photos © Pete Aylward

It was hard to believe today that the weather is due to break as it was such a beautiful warm day. But in the early evening dark clouds blew in, the wind got up, and in no time at all there was heavy rain, thunder and lightning. A timely reminder that the weather can turn nasty very quickly here so now I'm in no doubt that the scheduled rain and snow is coming and I've invested in some better gloves and a warmer hat. Ironically Britta, Run247's editor, who was due to run the TDS but had to withdraw because of injury, would thrive in the cold conditions but I am the total baby of the Run247 team. I met somebody from the Reunion Islands last night and it did make me think 'if he can do it...'.

My biggest advantage this year is that I ran the CCC last year too so I know what to expect. The great thing about races like this is that you can learn so much from them, especially if you live in the south of England and you're completely out of your comfort zone. So here are my top lessons learned from last year (in no particular order) which I can hopefully help me to tackle this race slightly better this year:

  • all of the toilets until you get to Switzerland are the hole in the floor variety. Even to runners whose standards have been lowered through years of portaloo exposure, it's still gross.
  • last year me and another Brit commented at the start about how using poles was cheating. Within about 10 minutes I knew that not taking poles was a giant mistake. The fact that 90% of the field were using them should have been a clue. Poles this year.
  • chicken noodle soup is the best ultra food ever. If you feel sick and can't face solid food, chicken noodle soup is the answer.
  • the refreshment posts at the UTMB races are unreal. 5 types of cheese? Check. 8 different types of chocolate and biscuits? Check. 6 different spicy sausages? Yep. It's entirely likely you could run the UTMB and put weight on.
  • cowbells are very motivating.
  • at a lot of points during the last third you will want to quit. No, you would do anything to quit. It was only the thought of friends and family following my progress on the Livetrail app that made me keep going. A strange man appeared in the woods in the rain at about 1am and asked if I wanted to 'dry out at his house'. I weighed it up and was 90% certain he was going to murder me, but it was still a tempting offer!

So hopefully I've learned some lessons and this year's race will go even better. Mind you, last year I remember saying 'at least if I do it next year the weather couldn't be that bad again'.

Photos © Pete Aylward

Text received from TNF UTMB: "TDS UTMB CCC: Conditions are expected to be very cold and difficult. 4 layers of clothing necessary Read the news on www.ultratrailmb.com or on Facebook"


About The Author

Kirsty Reade

I’d describe myself as borderline obsessed with running, racing, reading about running, and watching others run so hopefully I’m fairly typical of Run247’s visitors. I tend to do longer races, particularly off-road marathons and ultras, but am pretty much a fan of any distance. I'm passionate about helping runners of all levels to improve through running communities I'm involved in, such as Underground Ultra and Free Range Runners. 


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