Trail running meka – UTMB at chamonix

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What every trail runner tries to do once is to take part at the UTMB in chamonix in france, to take the 100 miles run around the mount blanc. The trail runners pass through 3 countries (France, Italy, Switzerland) and have to manage 10000 meters in height with over a distance of 168 km (100 miles). The maximum time for finishing is 46 hours. The race started at 16:30 on Friday the 30.9. and ended at 14:30 on Sunday at the 1.10.. The last 10 times the race took place, only 4 times i had been on the original trail. The other times, because of bad weather conditions, it has been shortened or rerouted. There are several points around and above 2500 m to climb with the highest Grand Col Ferret at 2537 mH and depending on the weather conditions, there can be snow on the trail.

Here is the profile of the trail.

utmb-profile

I prepared myself for over a year for this race. I made 3000 running and trail running km, with 74 km in height and trained during winter until summer, with about 50-100 km per week. Doing long endurance sports since many years, i managed to get through my trainings plans quite well. Although i was not running that much in the past, mostly triathlon before, i suffered from two three injuries. One stopped me completely about three weeks in the summer. But  others i could life with quite well. I was used to endurance races, but running distances this long, was also quite new to me. I started in summer 2012 with my first 100 km running race. I never did a marathon until know. It is not the kind of race, i prefer.

Managing this amount of running km, i managed to find some new ways of running techniques and a lot about my running in general, that helped my to be better prepared and save myself from more injuries. Also taping was one of the new things that i found helpful and sometimes a good support for long distances. Probably mostly useful, because i was really not that used to these kind of distances.

 

I arrived on Thursday, just one day before the start in the morning. It is a good idea to have some time. Since registering and acclimatise takes some time. I registered on Thursday and it took about two hours to get my starting number.

GOPR1617You have to wait a long time. But of course nothing compared to the time you will spend on the trail. Luckily the weather was quite nice.GOPR1621After two hours the line even got longer.

GOPR1648That is a long time and this could be enhanced. You get a band on your wrist, where the race you take part is inscribed.

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Also you have to deposit 20 euros for your bib on your race number. An identity card is required. At the end of the race, you will get back the 20 euros for your race bib.

GOPR1629After that, you can place your drop bag or later just two hours before the race.

GOPR1754The sign, tells you where to go. Your drop are stored with 2300 other bags in a safe numbering system. Everything is well organized.GOPR1752However not at the drop bag station but during check in your equipment will also be controlled. You have to wear and bring with you the following things:

Backpack with

  • a mobile
  • bladder with at least 1 l
  • a cup
  • two head lamps or lamps with replacement batteries
  • survival blanket
  • whistle
  • adhesive band
  • food reserve
  • waterproof jacket with hood
  • long running trousers
  • warm midlayer top with long sleeves
  • cap or bandana
  • warm hat
  • waterproof gloves
  • waterproof trousers

Also your passport might be needed, if you were controlled during the race, while passing a frontier.

During the race, there is a station, where your equipment will be checked. So you will not be able to proceed, if there is something missing. You can check out all the regulations for the UTMB on this page.

After that you can enjoy the nice region around the mont blanc. The weather conditions had been just fine. Also during the whole race, they had been just perfect.

There is a program where talks are held during the whole event.

GOPR1668Also the Expo is quite nice and worth a visit. It’s trail runners paradise, if you are looking for some equipment.GOPR1669Advertising stand for the Lavaredo trail and many other trails.GOPR1673This stand with UTMB equpiment.GOPR1676Thats what is sold as waterproof gloves there. You can see the gloves also in standard household or kitchens.GOPR1677Stand from Haglöfs. Very colorful.GOPR1679

 

At Friday the race started on time at 16:30. You are one the crowed there.GOPR1760 GOPR1762

No way to get a fast start. The crowed has started to move forward. But for the next 30-50 km you will not be able to get much faster than the crowed. GOPR1767For the first night there very often only single trails, where you are not able to overtake. For runners who have to problem to start to fast, this is a real advantage. Since you are not able to overtake, you can not go to fast. This can be an advantage.

After 15 hours i reached the first half of the race at Courmayeur. I changes clothes and shoes and after 40 Minutes i went on for the second half of the race. GOPR1772

Starting from Courmayeur in the early morning.

GOPR1774Nice views with stunning weather the next day.GOPR1779

One of the checkpoints with runners.

 

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This time the weather was just fine on top of the highest point of the race at the Grand Col Ferret at 2537 mD+.

 

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Thats where the downhill begins.GOPR1796

This took me again another 21 hours. Much more than i expected. But i was just much to optimistic after the first half of the race. But it had become much harder as i thought. But what i found, many parts of the race are also a mind game. You can run much faster if you do not think much about the pain and the distance that is still to come. But this is easier said than done. I have struggled myself several times, thinking about the distance, that is still to come during the race. Especially in the second half of the race.

I’m not used to caffeine. So with some caffeine and some cola it was possible for me to run the whole distance without sleeping. Only the last hour, i got sleepy. But until then i was just fine.

Here is a nice video race report from UltraTrailTV

I arrived around 5 o’clock in the morning on sunday. Some people standing there and cheered up.

 

UTMB 2013

Track Length: 165km
Altitude Range: 1721m (Min Height: 808m ~ Max Height: 2529m)
Total Climb: 11778m | Total Descent: 11778m
Address: 74405 CEDEX Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, Arrondissement de Bonneville, Haute-Savoie, Rhône-Alpes
Latitude: 45.9237205
Longitude: 6.86875641

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Here is my grading. Any comments appreciated.

  • grading overall: 9 pts
  • route: 8 pts
  • difficulty: 6 pts
  • markings: 8 pts
  • organization: 9 pts
  • food: 10 pts
  • costs: 8 pts
  • fun: 10 pts

 

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The Mountain Man, 80 km, 5000mD+, 17.8.13

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The weather was fine, like always, if you want to say so. It has been the weather like the past three years. Even this time it had been some clouds there in the afternoon, so it was even better weather for running.

This race is a trail running event, but also kind a logistic event. If you have not made it before, you will have to do some planning on where to stay and where to start and where to head off back. But anyway, everything starts in Alpnachstad, where you would get your race number and where you had been able to drop two bags, on for the finish on the Pilatus and one for the Brünning Pass, about at km 32.

The race starts at 6:45 but until you get there, it can be a long way. Since you have to take the Bus from Alpnachstad at 5 o’clock and first go to Engelberg (change to train in between) and from Engelberg there is a gondola to trübsee. That is then the stations where you start. The race then finishes at Pilatus from where you have to take a train down to Alpnachstad. So getting to the race and leaving the race take about 2-3 hours.

I stayed at the domitory, for 25 euros per night. That was in sarnen and at the local firestation. It was convenient and with earplugs not problem to sleep at.

But if you had made it and have left the logistics behind, it and have seen the nice landscape in Entlebuch (Unesco Entlebuch Biosphere), it might be worth it. Just decide yourself and take a look at the pictures i have made.

Thats in Alpnachstad, right also next to the train station.

GOPR1536 Many lakes and fast paths. This race is not very technical.

The race starts slowly, where all runners must line up in a row the first 2 km up. There is a cow gate, where all have to pass. On top of that first climb there is already a food station. But there are many more to come and most of them are really good equipped. They nearly all had isos, gels, fruits and even beer, yoghourt (without alcohol). All supporters had some motivational words and the big cow bells had been rung very loud.

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During the day i become hot. The first half of the day was not that difficult, but after midday i become above 20 degrees even on the higher trails.

GOPR1570 GOPR1564 Later some clouds came up but no rain.  GOPR1557

There have been some exposed trails on the way, but most of them had been easy to run on. The exposed ones have been saved by markings and personal, that checked every runner at least by sight, if he would be able to pass it.GOPR1555 GOPR1550

The finish seems quite close. But it is still a long way up to the mountains and to the finish. This is the last part of the race. Maybe only 1km of beeline. But the path goes up as serpentines.

GOPR1575That is the way you come all the way up.

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Nice view from the finish over Lucerne and the Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstätter See)GOPR1581

At the end of the race you take the train back to Alpnachstadt. It takes about half an hour to start and also about that long until you arrive back in Alpnachstad again.

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The Mountainman 2013, Ultra Distance, 80km

Track Length: 79km
Altitude Range: 1339m (Min Height: 977m ~ Max Height: 2316m)
Total Climb: 4175m | Total Descent: 3889m
Address: 6390 Engelberg, Obwalden, Kanton Obwalden
Latitude: 46.7917908
Longitude: 8.39409607

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Here is my grading. Any comments appreciated.

  • grading overall: 8 pts
  • route: 8 pts
  • difficulty: 4 pts
  • markings: 7 pts
  • organization: 10 pts
  • food: 10 pts
  • costs: 8 pts
  • fun: 10 pts
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Ticino Trail 133 km, 9800mD+, 2.8.13

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Nice trail and nice surroundings to say it in short. But a difficult trail also. Sometime it was not possible to make more than 2-3 km per hour. The trail was sometime very difficult. It had been a white-blue-white path in between, where balancing over a big field of rocks was the only way of getting through.GOPR1439

But first here some info’s from the beginning. The start of the race was at 22 o’clock in the night and after some km next to a road it got quickly into to Alps. Since the race got altogether 10000 m in height and they have to happen somewhere during the race. Since 10000 m is quite a lot.

The first km had been very fast. About 30-40 km the track was easy and it was mostly possible to run quick. In the morning i had a great view above some mountain lakes.

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Food stations had been not that many. Since the trails became more and mor difficult, it could happen, that for 3-4 hours you had been on your own. And it should become very hot during the daytime. So even in the mountains it had been above 20 degrees. And that should mean you had to drink a lot.GOPR1460

 

But there had been many very beautiful paths and views in between. The scenery was constantly changing and it did not get any boring during the race.GOPR1461

I think you could really see some of the nicest parts of ticino.GOPR1466 GOPR1470 GOPR1473

Here is a kind of a trail with many rocks. This was one of the more difficult ones. So it was not possible to run this and other parts to quick. As i said before, maybe only sometime with 2-3 km only per hour.GOPR1476

Over 2000m there had been many snow fiels. I used them to cool myself down. Put a hand full of snow under my cap and into my shirt. That was quite refreshing.GOPR1480

Or i used the water from one of many lakes around to refresh myself.GOPR1481 GOPR1487

The food was diverse. Only some stations had Iso drinks and most of them marzipan or some kind of chocolate cake. I was looking for any kind of sports food or geels but hardly found it. But for the price of 110 Euro you have to find a race first that goes that long and had that variety of food. There had been cheese, meat, chocolate and many other things.

Due to an injury, i was not able to finish the race. I stopped at km 100 km and 7000 mD+ and after resting for about 3 hours, i got a lift by car from the organisation back to the start.

Altogether i really like the race and the organization a lot.

Here is my grading. Any comments appreciated.

  • grading overall: 7 pts
  • route: 7 pts
  • difficulty: 8 pts
  • markings: 9 pts
  • organization: 8 pts
  • food: 6 pts
  • costs: 9 pts
  • fun: 8 pts

 

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Trail Running Deluxe, 1. Eiger Ultra Trail, 101km, 6700mD+, 20.7.13

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What a great event  and what a nice trail running event. This weekend the first Eiger Trail running event took place and made his debut. GOPR1173

About 600 runners started in the different categories. There have been three distances with 16, 51 and 101 km in length. For the 101 km race there was a limit of 400 runners. That limit was already reached 3-4 months before. Also for the shorter runs there was no late registration available. Registrations closed early.

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The race started at Grindelwald (at 1034m), which is just near the center of the Bernese Oberland in the canton of Bern. It is just surrounded of several mountains and many railways up.

The race started at 5 o’clock in the morning. The evening before there was a very informative briefing.

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The evening before it happened as isolated thunderstorms with a lot of rain for about an hour. Also stating there, that blizzards in the mountains is not funny. You should find a place the wait until they stopped.  Ueli Steck showed up also and committed to go for the 51 km trail. He placed under the first 10 runners.GOPR1206

During the race on Saturday because of bad weather conditions the race was shortened from 101 to to about 90 km at about 18 o’clock. So some fast runners made the full distance, while others did not made the part by the Eiger glacial, where the race was shortened. Could have been worse. I first thought they would cancel the whole race. But there was a very good emergency planning done before by the organization committee. So everything was quickly reorganized. Some have been disappointed, but i got the feeling it had been a good compromise between safety and runners interests. At a point you have to make a decision. Also it might not the best one in the review, it is better to make one, then to wait to long or to make no decision.

On the other hand there had been many great other views and moments. Especially in the morning.

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From the about 370 runners that started there have been 110 not finishing the race. It was very hot during the race. About 30 degrees in Burglauen for example. Long distances had to be run in the direct sun. Many of the runners quitted the race at Burglauen after the first half of the race. Maybe it was also too nice there.

The food was very good. There had been gels, bars and iso drinks in any combinations. Also meat, cheese and bread.

 

After the start at 5 o’clock the sun slowly rised. A very nice time during the day.

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There had been many snowfields on the way. Some of them you had to ran over.

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It was for all of them no problem passing.

 

GOPR1257There had been so many nice views, here are just some of them.GOPR1262GOPR1268GOPR1272GOPR1275GOPR1282GOPR1292

As one of the last, i was allowed to climb up to Männlichen, others haven’t been not so lucky and hat to take the gondola. Cause of blizzards the path up to Männlichen was closed through the mountains.

GOPR1297Many runners had not been able to run the part along the eiger north face. But anyway for security reasons, that was ok.

 

The race was very well organized. Thanks to everyone who helped this event to take place. Well done.

The next Eiger Ultra Trail will take place at the 19./20.Juli 2014.

Eiger Ultra Trail 2013

Track Length: 84.7km
Altitude Range: 1760m (Min Height: 892m ~ Max Height: 2652m)
Total Climb: 5363m | Total Descent: 5378m
Address: 3818 Grindelwald, Interlaken-Oberhasli, Kanton Bern
Latitude: 46.6233422
Longitude: 8.04407207

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Here is my grading. Any comments appreciated.

  • grading overall: 9 pts
  • route: 10 pts
  • difficulty: 5 pts
  • markings: 7 pts
  • organization: 10 pts
  • food: 10 pts
  • costs: 8 pts
  • fun: 10 pts
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29.6.13, Swiss Jura Marathon, 100km and 4000mD+

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This is a “small” race. Only about 20 runners started for the two days. There are other distances of 25 and 50. Only about 250 participants are allowed. The reason for this was said to keep the balance between nature and trail running.

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The markings sometimes where just missing and it would have been difficult to find the way without gps or map. Most of the times, about 80% of the trail, the normal yellow trekking sings have been the marking. Only where the trail takes another path, there had been extra markings. Interestingly this had worked altogether quite well.

 

The logment had been a bunker. But there was anything needed. A very good massage was there also available after the race.

I only managed to make the first day. I had a muscle strain after km 70 and then i was only able to walk. But i walked into the finish and made at least the 100 km for the first day. That was not really clever with a muscle strain. But i had that never before so i was not able to judge that right. I even tried to strech. That should never be done with a injury like this. In the end i was not that bad. I could still walk slowly. Had some problems walking downwards. And i took about a 1 1/2 weeks for me to recover from this.GOPR1042

From km 20 to 70 you would never cross a road with cars, you stay only on single trails or smaller paths. Hight went only up to 1200m. Typical for the Jura Mountains.

During the morning we had a lot of rain bit clouds cleared around 14 o’clock.

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Altogether the race was really well organized.

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Gerdas Spaghetti hat have been great.

One checkpoint i arrived had been a cowhouse. The cows have been listening to Bob Marley and “No woman no cry”. Enough grass was even already there. Only the palms where missing. Next time i will take a photo there. There have been also a lot of spectators watching at you during the race.GOPR1036

 

Most of the runners arrived the night before. Since the race started at 5 in the morning. It ends a 22 in the evening and this is not really much time if you are not a fast runner. But they have not enough personal to support the event also in the night. So we started when the lights went on and finished when the lights went off.

This track is not the full distance, as it was shortened during the race, because of bad weather conditions.

Swiss Jura Nature Trail 2013

Track Length: 100.9km
Altitude Range: 896m (Min Height: 303m ~ Max Height: 1199m)
Total Climb: 3854m | Total Descent: 3855m
Address: 4147 Aesch BL, Aesch (BL), Bezirk Arlesheim, Kanton Basel-Landschaft
Latitude: 47.4737723
Longitude: 7.58707134

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Here is my grading. Any comments appreciated.

  • grading overall: 8 pts
  • difficulty: 5 pts
  • markings: 5 pts
  • organization: 9 pts
  • food: 8 pts
  • costs: 7 pts
  • fun: 8 pts
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Trail de l’Absinthe, 75km, 3000mD+, 15.6.2013

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Being back from the Jura Mountains and the Vale de Travers had to say, i would like to go there again next year. Although it had not been a technical trail, the scenery is very nice and it is a  wonderful places to run. You will go up to 1600m highest and there had been still some fields of snow. But the weather was very nice and temperatures between 20 and 25 degrees. There had been about 120 runners for the trail with 75km and about 3000m in height.

Paths have been a mixture of normal streets, trails and paths.

Here i have made some pictures during the race.

The start of the race is at the sport centrum at couvet. Many enthusiastic specators and supporters have been around.

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Trail de l'Absinthe 2013

Track Length: 75.6km
Altitude Range: 846m (Min Height: 739m ~ Max Height: 1585m)
Total Climb: 2640m | Total Descent: 2637m
Address: 2112 Môtiers NE, Val-de-Travers, District du Val-de-Travers, Canton de Neuchâtel
Latitude: 46.9283718
Longitude: 6.63863436

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Here is my grading. Any comments appreciated.

  • grading overall: 9 pts
  • difficulty: 4 pts
  • markings: 9 pts
  • organisation: 9 pts
  • food: 8 pts
  • costs: 7 pts
  • fun: 8 pts

 

 

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Adventurous: New snow and snowfall at 1300m, Trail Vallée de Joux, 19.5.2013

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Hey, any season was available during the race.  What a great one. But honestly, it was most of the times quite cold, but there has been rain, sun, snow and snowfall during the race. Most of the wintertime’s had been at the beginning during the first and second climb upon 1500m. But as said, you should have been prepared. Otherwise it could become quite cold in the mountains.

As said the race started at 6:15 right at vallorbe DCIM100GOPROand finished at the sports hall in Le Sentier. From there you have to go back to vallorbe by train on you own costs. There is no lift from the organization and the train ticket is not included in the starts fee. You could have you luggage transported from the start to the finish or you can take the train in the morning from the finish to the start. Anyway, you should take that into account. DCIM100GOPRO

There had been wind and snow and fog from 1300m to 1500 m.

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Great weather changed into snow and vica versa. Very nice landscape and an easy and not very technical race. You could chose between 18, 33 and 56 km. The 56 had been shortend about 1,5 km because of weather condistions.

Altough the track was not difficult, it was sometimes very muddy and slippery because of the rain during the race and before. Temperates have been between -2 and 9 degrees.

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In the mountains there had been a lot of snow.

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Every finisher got a slate slap with cheese and sausages on it.

 

Here is the slat slap.

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Thats the finish line.

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Trail Vallée de Joux

Trail Vallée de Joux 2013

Track Length: 54.3km
Altitude Range: 748m (Min Height: 776m ~ Max Height: 1524m)
Total Climb: 2147m | Total Descent: 1894m
Address: 1337 Vallorbe, District du Jura-Nord vaudois, Canton de Vaud
Latitude: 46.7088911
Longitude: 6.37265386

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Here is my grading. Any comments appreciated.

  • grading overall: 8 pts
  • difficulty: 3 pts
  • markings: 8 pts
  • organization: 8 pts
  • food: 8 pts
  • costs: 6 pts
  • fun: 7 pts
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Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)