I’ve been signed up for the UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc) for a couple of months now and I realized I haven’t really shared any information about the training and preparation for the race.
The event takes place this coming August 30th with a start in Chamonix, France. Organized by The North Face the UTMB is a 105 miles ultra marathon with 31,500 feet of elevation gain (more than climbing Mt Everest from sea level!) and a cut off time of 46 hours. At 4,810 m (15,782 ft) the Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in Western Europe. 2300 athletes will run around the mountain, going through France, Italy and Switzerland. It’s the first ultra during which I will have to carry my passport.
Being born in France and having spent a fair amount of time in the Alps this is a dream come true. I have been fortunate to be able to qualify and to secure a spot in the race. Going home for what is considered the Olympic Games or the Tour de France of trail running is a very exciting and emotional prospect for me. By the time the race starts it will have been about a year since my mom passed away not too far from Chamonix. I dedicate this challenge to her and I wish she could be at the finish line. I would not have developed the endurance and resilience necessary to undertake a running adventure at this level without what she taught me and in particular her courage fighting cancer for four years. On my long mountain runs my mind sometimes presents me with a visual of her waiting for me at the finish line, sitting in a wheel chair with a blanket, craning her neck to catch a glimpse of me coming in the chute (which always leads to me breaking down in tears).
Preparing for the race is complex, tedious and fun! There are a couple of dimensions I would like to cover on tri-ops in order perhaps to help future runners but also to keep my sanity in check and reflect on what I’m doing! I will cover: training volume/intensity, nutrition and gear preparation. Let’s start with the training.