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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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 Challenge des Seigneurs, 13+14.4.2013

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Two runs in two days for three UTMB points. First on saturday there is the “Défi des Seigneurs” with 74 km, starting a 7 o’clock in the morning.

Start

Défi des Seigneurs 2013

Track Length: 74.8km
Altitude Range: 373m (Min Height: 181m ~ Max Height: 554m)
Total Climb: 2372m | Total Descent: 2393m
Address: 67110 Niederbronn-les-Bains, Arrondissement de Haguenau, Bas-Rhin, Alsace
Latitude: 48.9575180
Longitude: 7.63865726

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On the next day at 10 o’clock you can start for another 25 km called “MAC6”

 

MAC6, Challenge des Seigneurs 2013

Track Length: 24.7km
Altitude Range: 339m (Min Height: 233m ~ Max Height: 572m)
Total Climb: 764m | Total Descent: 773m
Address: 67110 Niederbronn-les-Bains, Arrondissement de Haguenau, Bas-Rhin, Alsace
Latitude: 48.9574331
Longitude: 7.63870806

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And if you have registered for both races, then you’r doing the “Challenge des Seigneurs” and will get 3 points for the UTMB.

http://www.lesvosgirunners.com

Since my french is not that good, i had some difficulties getting that right. But anyway. It had been a nice race. Adrian Brennwald had taken the first race and also was the first one at the finish.

Winner Défi des Seigneurs 2013

I like the nice atmosphere and the friendly staff. Everything took place at the sports stadium in Niederbronn and as for the first day, there had been about 200 runners, for the MAC6 there have been about 600 runners altogether. It was kind of a family event on Sunday. There have been also other distances with about 50 and 10 km. so everyone could find the best distance for his skills or which distance seems most preferably.

After registration you have been given three presents. Two mustard’s and a really nice local beer.

Gifts

The has been really delicious local food and pasta.

Niederbronn and the surrounding mountains are part of the Vosges mountains. They go up to 1400mD, but the race was ranging between 200 and 550 (Grand Wintersberg). On the Sunday at the Grand Wintersberg, they have been playing the alpenhorn, what reminded me a bit of Switzerland. 🙂

Vosges

Here is my grading. Any comments appreciated.

  • grading overall: 7 pts
  • difficulty: 3 pts
  • markings: 10 pts
  • organization: 8 pts
  • food: 8 pts
  • costs: 7 pts
  • fun: 7 pts
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