other than up or down, and there was no way on gods earth I was running down the path I had dragged myself up. Off I went, getting passed by the odd runner, one step after the next trying to compose myself, I knew once at the top of Le Flegere there was a check point and from there I had around 5K of easier uphill running to the finish. I didn’t think it could get any harder and then I broke through the tree line and joined what in winter would be a ski run, but in the summer is a uneven collection of stones and boulders the sun beating down on me, this course was, or already had demolished me. To add insult to injury people were passing me and disappearing into the distance.
Finally I was at the top I had covered that part of the course 2.5K/hour slower than the leaders, a Scottish supporter noticed I was struggling, gave me some sage words and off I went on the last leg, 6K left. Within minutes I had gone over a root or a stone, I had gone past caring. Dust in my face I got back up and lumbered on, I occasionally heard the noise of the finish area. I had run this part of course 3 days previously and loved every step, bouncing from boulder to boulder, this time couldn’t had been more different.
The finish was in sight and soon I heard the cheers of my name, a high five with Dan and a few others, across the line and my first ever finish line celebration and then the absolute agonising pain, which was soon to be tempered by free beer, the absolute pride and the most amazing view one will ever experience.
4hrs 42 minutes, 31st place and 1st British runner a position that the performance didn’t really merit, with that time I would have struggle to get in the top 50 of previous events. But I don’t give shit about any of that. I finished when there was a time I didn’t think I would, it was comprehensively the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I know I can run it significantly quicker and when I get the chance to my training will be far more relevant, you can’t do a mountain marathon and run it well off the back of a flat road marathon, it’s a different sport and needs to be treated as such.
CW - Man up I watched Dan in his 80K on Thursday, now that's one brutal event, I'm sure Dan will play it down but to complete that course when having a less than perfect day is an amazing achievement, mentally and physically. Before I saw him at 55K he had been sick numerous times and was cramping badly, but where others were dropping he ploughed on through.
Great to see TT back at it and racing well.
Stunning stuff from the PP's
As you know I ran the MB marathon which is nothing compared to the 80K but still involved 2760 metres of vertical ascent.
A pretty shit night’s sleep, 4.20am alarm call, judgement day. I knew this was going to be hard I was under trained and slightly over weight (4-6lbs).
The start was in Chamonix and was a typical fast start, I must have been about 100th after the first 200 yards but it soon calmed down as we left Chamonix and onto the gorgeous path that leads to Argentiere and the 10K point, this is the flattest part of the course but is still up and down with a net positive gain of 200m. I was running well and passing the over eager.
At Argentiere the race gets more serious as the path now enters the mountains rather than run alongside. up we went to the Col Des Montets, 250 metres above Aregntiere, then a lovely downhill run to Vallorcine 17.4 K into the run and where the first food/drink station was and where I got to see Dan, who shouted what I thought was "you're in the top 20" which I couldn't believe so convinced myself he said top 70.
Bottle topped up I was now ready for the longest climb of the day to the highest point, over the next 5.9K I would climb 741 meters. From the off this climb is brutal and it wasn’t long until I was walking. This climb lasts for a long, long time, looking at my breakdown it took about 50 minutes at just under 7k/hour, 1K/hour slower than the eventual winner, I felt brilliant going up, walked where it was sensible to and didn’t push myself too hard. One thing I remember is that just when you think you have reach the top, when you think there’s nothing higher you turn a corner and go up steeper and more technical terrain. I eventually got to the top head throbbing and ears popping now it was time for the descent, 5.9K straight down the side of a mountain. I thought I was descending well until some lunatic went past me. I was 2k/hour slower than the leaders on this ascent.
At the bottom my quads were throbbing but energy wise I felt fine and mentally I was still strong, the crowds had been brilliant shouting my name and with the British seeing the national flag on my number and getting rather carried away. I was high fiving and generally loving the experience. The next climb didn’t seem like much and the course profile but it was extremely technical, we climbed about 400meters in the space of around 3K. I really struggled going up, the down was even harder and I was suffering with a really bad stitch that stopped me be able to run the downhills. I was going slowly, the heat was intense and my mind was crumbling, god knows how many boulders I kicked or fell over but it was a lot, I was starting to wonder how I was going to finish if travelling this slowly, and the worst thing was I knew there was a bigger climb to come.
The climb to Le Flegere was my darkest moment in my running career, my legs were throbbing, I was starting to cramp, every step hurt more than the next, I couldn’t break out of the negative mindset, I thought about dropping out but reality struck, I was half way up a mountain and there was nowhere out
Jools - Seems like you're putting together some good training, congrats on the win, I presume that was the Towpath.
ES - Nice to see you kicking on from VLM.
PP - that's a tough session.
Nice to see bains back running.
I haven't been doing a great deal of training but what little I have done has been very hard and very hilly in preparation for the Mont Blanc marathon. The highlight being 4x "jacobs ladder" which is 247 steps up the side of Cheddar gorge, the tourists seemed a little bemused by it.