Sunday 28 August 2016

utmb (Cham to Champex only, unfortunately)

I confirm - to complete the hundred (rather mountainous) miles of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc is no easy task! Yesterday was my first attempt at this famous race, and I tried and I failed to get all the way round it. Hard to know exactly what went wrong, no doubt a combination of factors, but the simple answer is that my legs just weren't up for it on the day. I knew from the first climb that I wasn't fresh enough, the following descent was abnormally uncomfortable, and from then on it was a question of pushing on and seeing what happens. It's not completely unusual to feel poor at the start of a race and then to pull through, but yesterday there was no miraculous change in form on the go. It was on the climb up the Grand Col Ferret where my quadriceps finally give in, at which point I was in forth position, just a minute or so behind the second and third placed runners. By the top of the col I'd started loosing ground and through the course of the long descent down to La Foully the gap rapidly expanded. By the time I reached the valley floor I was struggling to even run on the flat, and it was at this point that getting to the finish line was starting to look dubious. Damn it! I really did want to complete this race, giving up is not an option I normally allow myself (I think the last time was five years ago at Cavalls des Vent ?) But by Champex, 124km in, I was left with no choice. It was hard to even keep up with Carole and Steph walking slowly by my side into the aid station. So a day I called it. Such is sport! It's only a big game anyway, right?! Some games you win and others you loose, even if it's not easy to accept at the time. But games are to be replayed and this one is not one I'm willing to abandon entirely! I learnt a heap of stuff out there during the course of the sixteen hours that I ran. I'll be wiser next time and hopefully fresher too. So, yes, utmb or a different one - we'll see, but I'll certainly be having another crack at the hundred mile distance, with the intention of completing! But that will be next year now. Just one more competition left in 2016 for me - the World Trail Championships in Portugal, nine weeks away. Between now and then - rest then some speed work, because that race in Portugal won't by a slow jog or a survival exercise! I need to remind myself how to run fast.. So it's sadly (?!) time to stash the poles away in the garage until next season. In any case, a massive well done and respect to all those that did complete the full circuit back to Chamonix - hats off! And especially incredible was seeing people rolling into town this morning, after a second full night out on the mountains, whilst we enjoyed a coffee in the sun, having had a full night's sleep - these people who complete in forty hours are the hardiest!
Huge thanks to Yo Stuck and Christophe Clerc for providing the perfect race support - driving many miles and loosing a night's sleep just to get my cheese & marmalade sandwiches and bowls of rice & jam to the assistance points in time and in condition! Thanks also Carole and Steph for providing the support for the race support :-) and obviously for the encouragement out on the race course. Also thanks to TorQ France for your support out there, and obviously the rhubarb & custard energy gels :-)

Thanks finally to all those who sent or posted or shouted messages of encouragement out there, before, during and after the race. Really appreciated!

See you for more #UltraStupidity next year :-)

Dans l'utmb il y a vraiment beaucoup d'abandons, et maintenant je comprends pourquoi !! 170km avec 10,000m de dénivelé - ce n'est effectivement pas facile ! Je l’ai tenté hier et j’ai été malheureusement contraint à rajouter mon nom sur la longue liste de “Did Not Finish”. Pourquoi ? C’était sans doute dû à une combinaison de facteurs différents, mais assez simplement je n'avais juste pas des bonnes jambes hier. Je l'ai senti dès les premières montées et surtout dans la première descente jusqu'à Saint Gervais. Le moteur ne tournait pas de façon fluide. J'ai continué tout de même, en croisant les droits que cela passe, mais au bout de 100km il n'y avait plus rien à faire, les quadriceps étaient cassés. Je n’aime pas arracher le dossard avant franchir la ligne d’arrivée, et j’étais prêt à me faire très mal aux jambes pour y arriver, mais honnêtement au bout de seize heures de course je ne pouvais simplement plus faire autrement - je n'arrivais plus à avancer du tout ! C’était dommage et c’est sûr que c’est un peu frustrant sur le coup, mais je n’oublie pas que ce n’est qu’un grand jeu et que les jeux se passent parfois bien mais parfois mal aussi. Mais surtout - les jeux sont là pour être retentés ! Mon histoire avec les cent miles ne terminera pas là :-) !! Je ne sais pas si ce sera à l’utmb où ailleurs, mais prochainement j’ai très envie de me retester sur cette distance, car je suis convaincu que cela peut se passer beaucoup mieux ! Il faut dire aussi que j’ai encore appris un tas de trucs pendant la course hier, comme sur toutes mes experiences en ultra cette année. Mais pour 2016 il est temps de faire une pose sur les ultra-ultras, sur les courses de distances (complètement) ridicules, afin de me concentrer sur une seule dernière épreuve - les championnats du monde de trail, au Portugal, fin octobre, qui se dérouleront sur une distance (presque) raisonnable - un petit 85km.

J’en profite pour remercier Yo Stuck et Chris Clerc qui se sont fait une nuit blanche pour m’offrir une assistance de formule 1 ce weekend - les kilometres qu’ils ont dû faire en voiture juste pour assurer que j’aie mes sandwiches fromage / marmelade et mes bols de riz / confiture à temps. Merci également à Steph et Carole - d'avoir assuré l'assistance de l'assistance :-) et d'avoir été là pour me soutenir ! Merci aussi à TorQ France pour le soutien sur le parcours et pour les gels rhubarb & custard (entre autres :-)

Finalement un énorme thanks à tous ceux qui m’ont encouragé avant, pendant et après la course. J’apprécie.

Hasta la próxima !

1 comment:

  1. Bad luck Andy. I did a 10 mile run/walk in the Alps just over a week ago. Can't imagine doing ten times that.


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