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The Chamonix diaries - Part 3

by kirsty
Thursday 30th 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 30, 2012

So the TDS started as planned at 7am in Courmayeur, Italy. As I had spent the night listening to driving rain, thunder and lightning I half expected to wake up to a text saying the start had been delayed, so this is a good sign. The organisers have been doing a great job in keeping runners up to date on the weather and recommended clothing and the latest for the UTMB and CCC is snow on high ground, rain, high winds, and a windchill factor down to -10C so 4 layers of clothing and very warm gloves and hat are required. I have no doubt that they are right. I used every single piece of recommended kit in my backpack during this race last year (except for the whistle and survival blanket thankfully).

The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® - August 30, 2012

Photo: The elite runners at the press conference © Pete Aylward

The real sharp end of the competition kicked off today with the mini CCC, mini UTMB, mini TDS, and mini PTL. These races are for children ranging from 3 to 13 years and range from 400m to 3k. All the runners wear the number 1 and it's well-supported by The North Face athletes like Seb Chaigneau, Jez Bragg, and Fernanda Maciel. It's a lot of fun and a very good diversion on a day when you need things to take your mind off your own fast-approaching race.

Other diversions today included a 'meet the athletes' event at the Salomon shop with runners like Iker Karrera, Anna Frost, Miguel Heras and Julien Chorier receiving the One Direction treatment from adoring fans. I wondered whether Kilian Jornet might make an appearance as he is in town, but not running this year. This afternoon we saw somebody running down the vertical kilometre down the incredibly steep descent at Planpraz. Kilian holds the record for this course and the runner was dressed in white kit. Maybe it was the man himself.

This evening there was a press conference to launch the 10th UTMB and they assembled a stellar cast of runners, all potential winners of either the CCC or UTMB this year. They interviewed Ellie Greenwood, Dave Mackey, Lizzy Hawker, Jez Bragg, Iker Karrera and Julien Chorier amongst others. Lizzy talked about the physical and mental training needed and encouraged people to enjoy the challenge with the mountain and with themselves. Jez, as a previous winner and also a Brit was asked about how to handle bad weather. Iker spoke about his solo mountain crossing from Chamonix to Zermatt and how that huge challenge had been great preparation for this year's UTMB. Seb Chaigneau unfortunately told us that a bad fall 3 weeks ago had led to surgery and 25 stitches only 3 weeks ago. He's still running, which is incredible in itself. Finally, Julien was introduced as having won his last 5 races, including the Hardrock 100, a race which apparently is as close to the UTMB as you get in the US. The men's race, with no Kilian this year, is going to be very interesting.

The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® - August 30, 2012

Photos: British athletes Jez Bragg and Lizzy Hawker © Pete Aylward

All that's left to do today is to check the weather forecast approximately every 6 seconds (I think I have to stop hoping for a miracle now and just suck up the fact that it will be wet and it will be cold), check all my kit a relaxed 10,000 times, apologise to everybody who knows me for the total spamfest that will be my Facebook page tomorrow (the Livetrail app posts to your page very time you go through a checkpoint) and get a good night's sleep. 100km and 5950m of ascent taking in 3 countries. See you on the other side.

Follow Kirsty and the other competitors live on http://www.utmb.livetrail.net/ or watch them on ultratrail.tv

Click here to find out more about the covearge

The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® - August 30, 2012

Photo: Who fancies setting off into the night in this weather? © Pete Aylward


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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