The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, one ultra-trail in mountains as another ... almost. It's just the little tour around the great mountain as I like to say…
Not, Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, it is not the figures given and re-given by the organization to blow marketing plans :
- 168 km of mountain trails
- 9600 meters of positive height difference ... and as negative
- 3 countries crossed (France, Switzerland and Italy)
- 2 complete pass mountain nights without sleep ... if possible of course !
- 46 hour time limit for the maximum
- About 2300 Runners ...
and this is certainly not the path folds newly proposed !
Okay so what is this UTMB ?
to me, now that I have lived inside it is especially :
A superb ride on trails around one of the most beautiful mountains of the world
Two nights under the stars, I should write the plural, so there were in the sky…
A very special start in the music “Conquest of Paradise” Vangelis, in the streets of Chamonix, with hundreds of people along the route
Tens of meeting people known or unknown in the race
Have shared this race with Cécile, alias Barbie insiders to the small world of trail, transformed for the occasion into assistant 6 stars, accompanied by my brother Alex.
Be the subject of a competition by the store MountainShop.com
Having a strong support from buddies, through hundreds of mainly texting
Hardly a descriptive emotion at the time of arrival
And this is clearly the second description I'll remember to describe this little trick of the great mountain.
Since Salomon Zugspitze Ultratrail, I have not run one mile, fault pain under the left front foot and going on vacation where I had planned to cut a little with sport, although the program has been sporting with great mountaineering in Ecuador. I attack this ultimate goal of the year with nearly 72 000 m de D , 265 sports hours, whose distribution “bike / ski / running” is approximately equal. Am conscious of having given a lot during the winter ski, then a small break before a big June / early July and have cut completely with all this later with holidays. The goal was to get physically and mentally fresh for the race. A final output with Tercan Sunday before the race will change my mind about my preparation. I had heavy and painful legs all week.
The day before the race
19h is, I get home from work, Mick calls me and offers me a barbecue at home. I agree if they can go to bed early. I prepare my business while caring meal. I make lots of different outfits over the weather that looks hot during the day, very cool evening. I also prepare my travel bag, putting the goretex overtrousers and in a small plastic bag, history save space and for once, I organize my bag properly.
I also prepared a bag “assistance” for Cécile, comprising “double” compulsory equipment and spare several outfits. For once I support on a race, as well enjoy and not deprive.
Laying 22:30, I do not put alarm for the next morning.
Waiting for the start
Up at 7am, I take exactly the same good breakfast that I had taken for CCC, and I jump in the car towards Chamonix. Arrived at about 10am, I go to the village trail, say hello to Frank Suunto stand and a happy birthday to Jeremy OkidoSport. I am joined by my brother. File is eat a good plate of pasta and we'll say hello in MountainShop.com and discuss the contest they decided to organize during my participation in the UTMB… After discussion with Celine, I will leave with a doudoune Mountain Hardware any slight (212 grams) and that should allow me to spend the night in a good condition. Then, I took a nap at ENSA while I entrust the mission to my brother to find me 30 minutes top chrono a container with a pipette and a bib door before departure. Pas themselves easily !
Woke up 1 hour before departure, I'm off to put me on the starting line. By the merest chance, among 2300 members and other carers, I found Benoit and his girlfriend, then Louis, Eric and Jean-Pierre stride Chablais. The 4 only runners I wanted to see before departure, the same place, this is beautiful ! This is against some of the stress to make room keys Cecile, it must shuttle from directly after the departure direction Saint-Gervais to see the head of the race and find a Doune in a crowd, it is not easy ! The atmosphere is a bit special, runners are stretched, viewers take billions of photos and other videos, speakeur and is worthy of a host of camping 2 stars of southern France !
In a nutshell, 1 minute before departure, the music changes, it is left for “Conquest of Paradise” background countdown… Maybe I thought and re-thought the moment billions of times, but I found the time any more. We advance walking to the starting line, I spend about 1min after the real start. Japanese rider takes photos with his SLR, others rush towards the public for one last hug to the family and / or friends, the public is number around the course in the streets of Chamonix, and that, until far after leaving the city. Passing the store MountainShop, I appercois Céline balcony and a small group of Groupies with a huge sign “go Doune !!!”, as saying that I will have a tear in the eye a little further… too many emotions on finally starting !
Chamonix – Saint-Gervais
3h01 – 20,9 km – 955 m de D – 1378and
plurality : 3h01 – 20,9 km – 955 m de D
The road between Chamonix and Les Houches is rather very flat, rolling, and I try to remember the little note Tercan : “to put in a bubble, do not force, toddle slightly never really run”. When I see the rhythm starts other competitors, I try to put the handbrake, Moreover, I discuss with a competitor, and you know what we talked about ? ski mountaineering bien sur ! He admitted me more stress and difficulty in understanding the UTMB, he seeks to finish since 2006 than to patrol glaciers or Pierra Menta-. I told him directly that for me, it's really the opposite in my little head… I know I will be arriving at UTMB whatever happens. He stopped a little further to wait for the small group of riders with whom he will make the race.
I come to Les Houches, I found Alex who prepared my supplies, I pint of chocolate through and leaves. Alex tells me he found me in Saint-Gervais. I continue my way. Parking on the outskirts of the village, Kilian trone ! There's even a tail that is formed for the souvenir photo with the idol. I told him he will far better run, no answer… I continue my way, and attacks mounted Delevret.
I'm easy, widely within and I try to pay attention to my thighs in the descent, very steep, rendered dangerous by the number of competitors who follow. The apprehension about my week with sore legs pass after this descent, it was either it goes, or it breaks, and it goes so I continued ! Saint-Gervais, I still find Alex before refueling. I still passes quickly, have not really needed to refuel me from the start, although I know that I must force myself to eat and drink. En tout cas, I am happy to be in this race, smile even behind the ears, I lost my race plan, et j’en rigole. The objective is, and remainder, for the time being, enjoy and go very, very quietly there.
Saint-Gervais – Chapieux
5h43 – 20,9 km – 1966 m de D – 893and
plurality : 8h44 – 50.0 km – 2911 m de d
Alex tells me he grows up assistance Contamines, who will find a way to get there before me. It will take a ride by a Quechua employee. For my part, the night begins to fall, and I began to really appreciate the trail, I love running at dusk, sans frontale, to guess the ground with hardly shadow residual lights. This is a dangerous hair but it broke me then I let the front in the bag again for the moment. I still remember the notes Tercan saying that false flat amount traitor and must keep forces under penalty explode later in the course. So I alternate walking and reading trottinage very (too?) many text messages received. To contaminated, I pose the 2 minutes refueling, there is still a lot of people at the edge of the trail, especially in the vicinity of villages. It is very impressive !
Je sors ma frontale, mange un cookie, filled my canteen, and puts the jacket because it starts to cool. I thank Alex for assistance, really, and I go to attack the cross of man. It is almost 23h when I finally decided to turn my front. It is to approach the Balme, where supply is present. Before, I was talking with a trail chablaisien met on the course, it's nice… Refueling, volunteer calls a Swiss competitor “ohhh Switzerland, you're with you soon !”, and a French competitor “ahhh ben toi, you're already more with you…” (yes, Savoy is here it seems ..) which will have the merit of making me laugh. In the following the rise, I decided advantage, enjoy because Tercan sent me a text saying that I had made a great start, but he had to keep under the foot for the next, and because the show frontal climbing before and behind the neck of the man, return it SaintéLyon 5th division of the local district. I remain in the footsteps of competitors before me, not doubling person. Anyway, double here would have resulted not only lose a lot of energy psychological side. In the rise, I see a stopped train on a stone competitor eating applesauce, et là, it is the revelation, that's what I forgot, compotes for racing… From that moment, I have given my empire for a compote !
In the descent, I know a couple of southern France, running together. They made their honeymoon marathon des sables !! I descend prudamment, gently, seeking to save me up. Then I get to where Chapieux, joke of the organization, there queuing for control equipment required ! 5 minutes, I finally have access to supplies, and mega-big surprise, is open compotes !!! Blow, a little hot broth, 2 compotes and to vamos la playa…
The Champieux – Courmayeur
6h00 – 27,7 km – 1 415 m de D – 792and
plurality : 14h44 – 77.7 km – 4337 m de d
Always with a view to ease off overnight, I leave quietly walking. The ascent of the Col de Sevigne is deemed to be long, both in time and distance, rather flat and very fresh. I spend my time watching the stars and talking with a competitor. We walk quietly, while several riders we double current. When the slope increases slightly, I'm going to, amount on a small pace, without being in the red. I double some competitors, and especially, I serve hare hounds following my trail. Do not care, I go at my own pace. Atop, it's really cold, I leave the gloves and attack downhill on Lake Combal. This is unfortunate, is that normal, This lake offers one of the most beautiful landscapes of the Tour du Mont Blanc, et là, going from night. Sniff !
Honestly, since I lost my little paper with the profile of the race, I thought the race came down directly in Courmayeur. Remains that made, it must pass through the ridge of Mont Favre, 457 m above the neck and in the descent Cheruit. No problem, it's gone ! Always at the same pace. CA is rising all Alone, the descent is a bit long behind, and I am careful because I know that the end of the descent to Courmayeur is just a mess, with its slope, its tight turns and marches. And steps, I love it since Solomon Zugspitze Ultratrail (joke !). In a nutshell, I take my time to go down, I'm overtaken by Japanese kamikaze fashion, nothing serious. The dawn rises, Courmayeur is in sight, Cécile has already expect me. I arrive at the refueling, I see the end of the line. It can not return as an assistant in the building, so we decided to find out, to the output. I take my meals (pasta + compotes) I go out and ask me out. Cécile remember that the race starts here. Je me change, all is well. We set the next appointment in La Fouly.
Courmayeur – La Fouly
8h11 – 31.8 km – 2 153 m de D – 726and
plurality : 22h55 – 109.5 km – 6490 m de d
I leave Courmayeur with the idea in mind that the race starts now, ie, the hard part begins… I leave quietly, however,, this is not because the race starts to do anything. So I walk in discussing the false flat amount. From now until Champex, these trails, I know to be crushed at the CCC 2011. The ascent Bertone is much less crowded than during the race also, I still get on my little stride. I find Louis club stride Chablais. On fera du they are dangling the leakages montée. Refueling, Moreover, we leave almost all. Is'm a long flat until Bonatti refuge, Sydoky tell me by text that is more favorable terrain, but I, I love the trail, is when it goes (très fort) et ça descend (très fort)! So I took my troubles patiently and trotted along this path.
Of course I do drop by runners who come flat country, but I know I'll pick up a spoon in the next difficulty of the course. Yes, because the next challenge, this is the worst of all : The great Col Ferret with its average slope 30% ! Finally, before, you must go to the shelter and then Bonatti, down on Arnuva. In this descent, so that all signals are green, adductors, for some reason still, contract and suddenly become all hard.
The descent becomes much more painful and I decided to slow down until supply. As, there is physios when I stop to get a massage. In repartant, I try to pass the salt it all. I forget to eat sweet, which earned me a nice shot as well in the big climb of the Col Ferret. As I had flown in 2011, as there, it's hard to pass, even if I double a few competitors in the rise. Halfway, I stop to eat and drink, it's hot, it's noon or something like. Management management management… Tercan told by texting me not to make the adductors, take 1 2h quietly to recover and notify. On this kind of race, wasting time on a raised foot for 1 hour only 10 minutes au final, in a nutshell , I must not deprive myself of that side. Au col, attack on the long descent to the Fouly (20 kms), so when I get the chance, I try to trot. Unfortunately, my groin show me fly so I walk.
I met Stephane, met before a competitor on the course, it, suffers thighs. We talk to pass the time, this is cool !
A la Fouly, Cecile made 100 not, she waits for me and saw my physical seed, I am behind on the estimated time of arrival.
La Fouly – Champex
3h30 – 14.1 km – 567 m de D – 781and
plurality : 26h24 – 123.6 km – 7 057 m de d
Refueling, Xavier and Cecile are very caring, I ask a lot of advice on my groin, agree because it hurts, but in Verbier, I ran for miles limit cramp, tear to the eye and that was fine. The answer is unequivocally, I have to take my pain with patience and go fix me Champex and then, I could do anything. I still have the right to a small spa session “cold mountain water” on the legs to get a little evil.
This part of the journey that I attack, this is one of my favorite. En effet, we passed through a village where the children fight each other for the best supplies for runners. Some offer water in plastic cups, other coca, of ice-tea, the orangina and so on… En tout cas, Cabbage is great from them and parents to organize this. It is in Switzerland…. The road is not very sexy also : this is the road before starting the ascent to Champex. In bas of the montée, I'm getting a gene at the left hip. I think at first my shorts too tight, door-bib so I make room in-shaking everything up. Then, later in the mounted, pain really becomes too strong. Limit it becomes impossible to put the foot down. Sometimes, however, it's not bad at all. I do not get it then I want a solution.
After having tried everything, I decided to try without shoes and there, pain disappears almost completely. So I throw the shoes in a bin. So here I am in socks for 3 remaining kms to Champex. It stings a little arch of the foot but honestly it will ! What makes me laugh the most, it is the remarks of spectators during my visit. Anyway, I find Cecile Champex for refueling. I also found Ali, a colleague, who walk on the path of the UTMB. I planned to get some sleep but after that supply “Racing Council” avec mon assistante Favorite, it is better to enjoy it's day to keep moving. However I will still in the hands of the physio for hip problem.
Champex – Trent
5h08- 13.3 km – 914 m de D – 818and
plurality : 31h32min – 139,6 km – 7971 m de D
I remember the last text message sent by Tercan on my way to the great ferret collar, he said that I had passed the point of no return and I'll finisher. En effet, remained more 20 h de course, and the equivalent of three times the tooth oche to ascend / descend. Suffice to say, same rolling, done ! However I note the reference to the tooth oche, meaning “caillasse à gogo” and undergrowth.
This first climb will be in the company of Jean-Pierre, found on the course at the exit of Champex. It is the 2 to address the rise, alone in the woods. Only, the atmosphere was really oppressive and bizarre. Two, we talk a bit and I climb ahead, printing a slightly higher rate for my friend ski alpi. On the flat, en haut, nurses give me 2 dolipranes for my hip pain is really hellish to live. The descent will happen rather well. I begin to take the hit for laying foot on the ground to avoid having too bad, blow, I can move fast enough. Jean-Pierre takes the lead and join line assistance. We fight on snails walking speeds…. I get a few minutes after, with the surprise of the presence of my brother from the refueling. In the series of supplies + physiotherapist, I even stopped once to fix me. As, I stumbled upon 2 former colleagues SFR, at the time I went to A. S. Boulogne SFR. I also found Stéphane last. 's Je dit of the repartir, I catch up to the Vallorcine but later will not happen as planned. During my stop, Cécile brought the battery of my Petzl Petzl Nao to stand for express load.
Trent – Vallorcine
4h58- 10.6 km – 859 m de D – 991and
plurality : 36h30min – 150,2 km – 8830 m de d
This is since Arnuva I walk this UTMB, I abandoned all ideas chrono or fully managed race. I have in mind to finish the race and cross the finish line with Cécile and my brother, even if it is the last place. I can not run when I walk, I try to make small steps in time to keep a little body warm and fast forward, Finally faster than if I was walking normally. I mounted the attack Catogne has nothing good in itself complicated, it is just like any other, but this is my second night out and I began to pitch nose. I drink all the coke I had in my flask to try to keep me awake with caffeine but that does not… so I settled for a micro-nap at the edge of the trail. Un foulard sur les yeux, the laptop in airplane mode with the alarm activated 20 minutes later glued to my ear, is party to express dodo ! Dodo express that will stop after 5 minutes, competitors woke up to see if I'm still alive. THANKS !
I resumed my journey towards the neck, I found a nurse. I asked him a little care for my hip, she refuses to give me other dolipranes because I have not 6h between each, in a nutshell , I insist not, anyway that's racing, must suffer to earn arrival. In the descent, begins the funniest way of my race : Hallucination series ! In the disorder, looking at the front line of advanced before me, I see a wooden carousel that rotates with clowns in. I also see a man with a big green parrot on his shoulder, a battle of laser-player game coming out from behind the trees, a power substation on a pan of snow (probably a reference to Erhard Loretan made by my brain when I realized that I had hallucinations) then I saw almost everything that could look like a place to sleep (lit, wheelbarrow, hammock, hotel, car, sleeping bag…) when I decided to stop sleeping. It is this violent drug I tell you ! This time, I put me a little off the path. When I woke, I found my 2 accomplices SFR… they go down faster than me so I let him go. I put my overtrousers to avoid the cold. I trudges. The phone rings, it is Alex who cares “I am in the descent”. I reassure, il me reste 200 m to.
Vallorcine – Chamonix
5h42 – 18.5 km – 966 m de D – 1014and
plurality : 36h30min – 150,2 km – 8830 m de d
Refueling, I found Cecilia in discussion with one of those friends who runs and Alex. Alex will take care of my supplies and quickly, I leave… along with the friend Cécile. Blow, on discute. Time flies, or rather, not pass quickly… It comes down from head to wind, I decided to get on a good pace. Left to pull all, as well do it in style to this beautiful sunrise over the Mont-Blanc. So I double series runner stunned to see me go so fast. Atop, I stop because I have good wallop of less. I emptied the reserves of man. I attack a bar walking. I found once again my buddies AS SFR. We finally arrive to discuss a little.
On the flat, they are faster than me, my hip is still painful and I can not keep a decent pace, then, I decided to finish walking. The evening descente un vrai calvaire, as long and fairly flat. These 8 last kms to walk after 40h effort (almost), it's almost inhuman, even when the fans on the edge of the trail give false information and my ambit decides to stop. (more batteries)
In small stream, before arriving in Chamonix, I found my 2 Preferred assistants. We'll go walking to the entrance in Chamonix, and thereafter, I trottinerai with the pains that go well until the arrival. A 100 m of the line told me Cécile “file and benefits, this is for you !” I only go in front of the church, the finish line in front of me. I try to enjoy but too many emotions… I crossed the line and Cécile joined me running for a peck on the line. Alex then comes to a good handshake between brother. I am pleased to have finished, glad I could share this with my brother and Cécile. Il parait, I FINISHER ultra-trail du Mont-Blanc.
I then get my polar file, make cuckoo to the webcam to all supporters who followed me at a distance. I then responded to several questions from a journalist France Bleu Pays de Savoie.
His story can be heard here (source : France Bleu Pays de Savoie.):
Quickly, my eyes are beginning to cry and close alone. It is very strange sensations as. I will then take a nap behind the church with the help of Chamonix my brother and thereafter, on filera au MacDo pour arroser ce finish !
And, yes I admit, when I write these lines, I'm still on my little cloud. Because there, I FINISHER UTMB 2013 online 42h12, on the 1014th 2300 Runners.
For me it was a big goal of my life, UTMB and that which I have dreamed, I did ... with perfect conditions and physical cardboard.
I've done it via facebook but I wanted from my heart to thank all the people who sent me a text message (sometimes without the sign) during the race, thank Cécile, Alex and Xavier for their help on various supplies, to thank MountainShop for logistical support and the contest for my race. THANKS !
Credits : Maindru / Eliza Mariette / Alex / organization
Read also : cold analysis of my race – here