“It is not a pristine mountain experience, but rather, it’s a spectacle of the sport of mountain ultra running. I happen to like this aspect of the race. For a sport that is often niche and very grassroots and an activity that I spent a vast majority of my time doing alone, almost everything about the race is an over-the top, at times kitschy, experience; a true celebratory event.” — Adam Campbell
While it’s always fun and beneficial to write a report after every event I run, doing so for the UTMB seems just as daunting as finishing the course. It’s definitely the hardest ultra marathon I ever ran – 105 miles (168 km) in high mountains, 31,000 feet of steep climbing and descending, semi-autonomous mode – it took me over 42 hours, having to stop for 15 to 45 minutes at aid stations to fuel, rest and occasionally take a 15 minutes power nap. It was hard but it was an adventure like no other and also a dream come true: running around the Mont-Blanc!
I finished 1039 out of 2469 participants (only 223 Women). 1686 runners finished (68% of participants).
I got to the start line very rested and well-nourished after almost a week in a super cozy hotel near Chamonix and daily visits to the center. If you go run the UTMB and have a tight budget I highly recommend the Hotel Beau Soleil in Le Lavancher. It’s operated by Mr and Mme Bossonney and they were so caring and happy to have a UTMB runner that they treated me like their son, cooking simple and delicious dinners that contributed to being well-fed at the start. I also slept extremely well, between 8 and 10 hours a night before the race.
One week from today the race will be on and there are a couple more points I would like to address before going to Chamonix! First, I never had to prepare for such an adventure. In the week leading to taking my flight, I must have spent at least two hours a day packing, unpacking repacking, weighing items, labeling, re-reading the runner’s guide, preparing the drop bag and getting ready to get there with all I need on the start line.
One thing that is certain about the UTMB is the uncertainty about the course! In previous years, the weather was so bad that they had to shorten the course.