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Thursday, 13 August 2015

UTMB 2015, goals, expectations, fears, ….

UTMB 2015, goals, expectations, fears, ….

In 2 weeks I will be starting in the race I have been working on a long time and which is on top of my bucket list, Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc or shortly UTMB. Just getting to the start is tough: one needs to have earned enough UTMB points (the required number of points has been increasing over the years) in other trail races to enter a lottery and then be lucky in the lottery. For this years race I managed to get the required points and was lucky in the lottery.

For those not familiar with UTMB: it is race around Mont Blanc, starting and finishing in Chamonix, France over 170 km with about 10.000 D+, passing through Italy and Switzerland, and has about 2500 participants (in the last 2 years relative good weather races around 50-60% makes it to the finish). The race starts Friday evening and the maximum time is 46h: the winners will be finishing Saturday afternoon, while I will have to run through 2 nights and likely 2 days.

UTMB race profile

 So what to hope, expect and fear?

First of all, I hope the weather is such that at least most of the normal route can be run. Weather around the Mont Blanc can change quickly. For instance today it is 25 degrees in Chamonix, but in 2 days the weather forecast predicts a maximum temperature of 9 degrees and minimum of -2 in Chamonix, which means it will be pretty bad/cold at the high points during the night. My worst weather race is still the 2012 CCC (‘small’ sister race of UTMB), which was ran in snow, rain and very very very cold…… That year the full UTMB was shortened to only 100 km, not leaving France…

My biggest question mark and fear in night number 2. I have ran through one night and actually loved that, but having to run through yet another night is likely a completely different thing. I have read a lot of race reports from previous years and if I have to conclude from those, it seems I will not be able to eat anything without throwing up, I may fall asleep next to the path or hallucinations may happen (the hallucination of one guy having a Star Wars Soldier running next to him sounds pretty cool) and motivation will not be too high. So fearing that night, but also a bit curious to see how I will tackle it.

Another thing is the distance and amount of heightmeters. My toughest race so far was Lavaredo (119 km, 6000 D+), so quite far from what this is. That one was going nicely according to plan, but the weather was also good. If I would have had to run another 50 km with 4000 D+, I would have told you ‘no way’. I have trained well and lost 7 kg since December, but this is very unknown territory. Most of all I fear the last 3 ‘hills’ after Champex. Each of those will feel like Everest in itself.

This brings me to my goal: simply finish. I am in good shape, but that will be far from enough. I know I will be ready to quit at some point or points, feel miserable and ready to pay a fortune for a helicopter to fly me back, but then I also know I am a stubborn guy and that I will get over this phase of misery and get to my very determined phase (poor person in that phase who will try to pull me from the course ;-)). Question is whether that determined phase will last long enough to bring me to the finish.

Looking forward to this adventure and realising a dream on top of my list. I expect to be challenged to the maximum and hope the mountains and the weather will tolerate me for those 46 hours.

You can follow me during the race through (start number 599)