well - as they say - the weather can change quickly in the mountains. snow and freezing conditions above 2000m generally has closed the Col de Bonhomme and Col Grand Ferret so drastic course revision for the UTMB and now only in France - no Italy or Switzerland.
normal route towards Bonhomme, turn at Balme back to Les Contamines and Les Houches via a different track - up the Chamonix Valley to Col de Montets and then back to Cham on the CCC route. 100km with 6000m of climbing.
you have to feel for the organisers of this race - 3 years running the weather has conspired against them.
I'm relieved to report that I finished the CCC in a bit over 22 hours. I was disappointed that I couldn't do the full course because I had had a romantic idea of attaining the fifth summit over 2000m (Tete aux Vents) at sunrise and seeing the sun rise over Mont Blanc before a straightforward run over good tracks down into Chamonix. However, low cloud, snowline at 1800m and heavy rain making many of the tracks very slippery going conspired to compel the organisers to shorten the course, taking out Tete de la Tronche and Tete aux Vents and I guess making an overall distance of ~55 miles. Even so, the CCC runners were lucky with the weather compared to the TDS entrants. I remember sitting in my hotel room in Chamonix on the Thursday night watching the thunderstorm and the rain lashing down and feeling for the poor guys and girls on the TDS course. The local paper reported that about 60 per cent TDS runners failed to finish - if so, heart-breaking for all concerned but understandable in the atrocious conditions.
The organisation was superb. The camaraderie around the course was brilliant. The volunteers at the check points were fantastic. The atmosphere in Chamonix was inspiring. The sense of achievement was tremendous. I aspire to stepping up to the ultimate full UTMB in two years time. But I'm saddened to read in the latest UTMB newsletter of selfish behaviour and littering along the course
Fortunately, there is no mention of the nationalities involved and with over 65 countries represented I hope no Brits were involved.
I remember descending from Grand Col Ferret and seeing numerous empty gel sachets discarded on the trail despite the many exhortations to eco-solidarity in the newsletters and race instructions. The organisers emphasise it's not like a big city marathon where the road sweepers will be along later in the day to clear up. This is a wild and beautiful place. It would be a great shame if the UTMB was banned because of environmental damage and pollution. For everyone taking part next year, please follow the guidance!
Hi PM, I was one of those near 60% unfortunately, through a bit of bad prep, bit of bad luck I missed out on a completion But happy to get as far as I did and not do myself a mischief
First off TDS is a beast, from doing 60m of UTMB last year I reckon that even without the weather effect it's a tougher course. UTMB huge climbs + 10% and quite a few rougher and more techincal paths. I've not slipped or fallen as much anywhere in the uk - but tiredness probably a factor here too.
Had rained most of the day, especially above 1700m. But then cleared up on the descent to Bourg St Maurice. Feeling the hills and miles here, but got stuck into the massive climb to Le passeur de Pralognan with somewhat renewed optimism, especially, nearing the end of the afternoon, we were clear of cloud nearing the top, almost no wind and sun came out. Got my soaking waterproof out of the bag and wore it as a cape for awhile to dry it out. Started to feel the wind again nearer the top and cloud and rain returned, so the almost dry 'cape' resumed its normal duty.
Passing over the top I realised where the wind and rain were, bashing into the steep face of the descent (roped in a few places to assist descending). I was in, waterpoof top , but otherwise very little protection on and didn't want to stop and lose my place in "queue" down. Unfortunately got stuck behind some very temntative descenders on steep, muddy scramble-rock climb down and got very cold.
Once I could finally pass and get going I tried to make haste downwards to get below rain (I hoped) or if not try and warm up a bit on route to next CP where I could warm up. I slipped off muddy path completly in my haste at one point and nearly down a bank. And rain and wind battered me till Cormet de Roselend where I arrive shaking like crazy.
Problem was everybody had stopped here because of weather, standing room only so I struggled to find a space to sit and get my kit out to change whilst still shaking. Took me ages to get two baselayers, waterproof top + bottoms and leggings, hat and gloves on and two soups + other food to get warm. Was still shaking after 45mins in tent and about to give up when it stopped. Glad I went on as near 500 people retired here!
I didn't get far though, over the next few climbs, but I was a shell. It seemed to get muddier and rockier on this section. Before my withdrawal at Col de Joly I was struggling to climb 100yards without my heart absolutley racing. And my descending, usually a strength was weak and clumsy resulting in stumbles. Retired through tiredness (physical and also sleepy - dropping off a bit - contributing to stumbles in areas where I couldn't afford to).
Pompey Mike wrote (see)
The organisation was superb. The camaraderie around the course was brilliant. The volunteers at the check points were fantastic. The atmosphere in Chamonix was inspiring. The sense of achievement was tremendous. I aspire to stepping up to the ultimate full UTMB in two years time. But I'm saddened to read in the latest UTMB newsletter of selfish behaviour and littering along the course http://www.ultratrailmb.com/documents/Newsletters/Letters/nl13_sept2012_EN.html Fortunately, there is no mention of the nationalities involved and with over 65 countries represented I hope no Brits were involved. I remember descending from Grand Col Ferret and seeing numerous empty gel sachets discarded on the trail despite the many exhortations to eco-solidarity in the newsletters and race instructions. The organisers emphasise it's not like a big city marathon where the road sweepers will be along later in the day to clear up. This is a wild and beautiful place. It would be a great shame if the UTMB was banned because of environmental damage and pollution. For everyone taking part next year, please follow the guidance!
I agree on all your points about organisation PM, its tough to organise something like this, with the evacuation of nearly 500 runners from one CP on TDS going on and having to reroute CCC and complete change UTMB. I know UTMB'ers were disappointed, but the organisers have great resposibility to do the right thing in such a high entry, high profile event. And the littering is a great shame, I'd never do this off-road - or even on for that matter.
The only thing that might put me off these events again is the situation at Cormet de Roselund, it was horrible not to have the room to relax (it was a big marquee, but there were hundreds in it sheltering), get kitted up, warmed up, etc.... most days/years this wouldn't be a problem. The numbers running the TDS were too big. Events like Lakeland 50/100 have got it bang on with their entry restrictions.
Completed the CCC this year for the first time. Loved it, but what a ride! The weather made it nuts. I nearly gave up at Champex through lack of nutrition (i.e. eating nothing). The weather and desire (over excitement) to carry on meant that I ate very little and already coming over Grand Col Ferret, I knew I had made a mistake. By Champex I was crawling up the hill and was shaking on arrival at the aid station. I dropped from about 600th to 1000th at that point as it took me an hour to get some food down and change my clothes. Agree with the above that in those weather conditions, there are maybe too many runners for the aid stations. Places like La Fouly and Champex were pretty unpleasant overall.
That said, my memories of the aid station at Bovine (the nervous atmosphere in there before heading out into the storm) and late night trawl from Argentiere with the UTMB winners running by made the whole race special. The weekend in Chamonix is something I can see myself wanting to do every year. Had considered a TDS entry next year but maybe another crack at the CCC and "mullering" the course is in order.
well done for having a crack it in those conditions chaps - chapeau.
I think the organisers are due decent conditions next year after 3 crap years but you really never know what it's going to throw at you. up until just before the event they'd been suffering a heatwave. and the last time we did the Tour du Mt Blanc walking it was 37C in the valleys - not much cooler up top!! we abandoned half way around as it was just too hot and our feet were swelling in walking boots so much making them painful.
I've enough points for the UTMB so will have a crack at that. Now whether I get in...... thats another matter
Very tempted by CCC. Absolutely love the Alps so this series of races really has to be something I go after. Main worry is a niggling knee injury but I've got SDW100 to prepare for first and assuming I'm ready for that, this should piggy back on nicely.
A long way infront of me too I'm sure
Putting my name down for UTMB tomorrow. Fingers crossed...
My name will be going into the hat!
Names in the beret..... now do I do the Ridgeway as well??
French 100k cheese race entered!
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