Sunday 8 September 2013

Pre UTMB French Mountain training

2 Weeks to the UTMB.

I had arrived in the Vercors with Rachel two weeks prior to the UTMB and took advantage of living at just over 1000m Altitude. The first day was a fast run down the valley to Autran at a very quick pace. Everything felt great and later on that day I did another 9km with Rachel up to about 1300m. It was a good first day especially after flying etc and I was out running in hot conditions.
Running up to 1300m on a good forrest track

Me and Rachel plodding on

The next day we did a 21km trip out, climbing up to 1440m and again running on solid forrest tracks in the baking sun, with some of the tree canopy offering some protection from the Sun.

Our next trip out after a day off was from Villard-des- Lans from about 1150m following a mixture of ski routes up to the Col des Deax Soeurs at 2056m. On the return we got caught out in a quick thunderstorm which soon cleared, and after leaving our pine tree shelter, we carried on the descent back to the Start. About 18km done and over 1000m of ascent.

My last run in this area was to go out on my own and do the same route as a few days ago, but to power all the way up to the col (2056m), and descend by slightly a different and longer route completing a 21km run and again over 1000m of climbing in a good time of 2h:41mins without breaking myself.
The 2000m plus peaks

enjoying the warmth at 2020m

We then moved to the area of Peisey Nancroix near Bourg St Maurice, now staying up at 1440m there was good scope to get a good run in here.
Maybe I got carried away, but this was going to be my last long run before the UTMB which was only days away.

I set off on the long climb and the day was another hot one so I carried 1.5 litres of fluid with me. I was soon up at 2000m and I saw the mountain of Aiguille Rouge which looked very inviting. Continuing on great hard packed tracks eventually at over 2500m the last bit was going to be a scramble/ climb over rocks and large boulders to eventual reach the summit at 3250m. This didn't dissapoint with great clear views of Mont Blanc. This was a good climb from the start of about 13km, I felt great and had no problems with the heat or altitude. After descending back down to about 2300m before climbing back up to 2700m on the last peak of the day. This left a lovely descent on some technical scree and winding tracks back down to 1440m and I even got a glimpse of a Marmot, but disappeared before i could get the camera out. Probably a little further than I planned at 30km, but I felt good all the way and afterwards.
Fantastic conditions at about 2600m altitude 

looking at the glacier at Aiguille du St-Esprit

Me on the summit of Aiguille Rouge 3227m with a good view of Mt Blanc behind
the Garmin Fenix behaving itself

 The only problem was My Garmin Fenix which was still struggling to add the total amount of ascent up. This resulted in me emailing Garmin. This resulted in their reply of a major reset and updating the software on the unit. Did this work, well the pressure altimeter had settled down and seem to be working again, but watch this space!

Time to move to Les Houches to our chalet for the next 10 days. My first run was up behind the apartment, and  on the Tour de Mont Blanc route which soon joined the UTMB route, I just followed this up to 1799m to where it levels off at la Charme, before starting the descent to St Gervais. Just a nice 10km steady outing 5km up and 5km down followed soaking up the atmosphere in Chamonix. A little detour on this trip saw my confronted by 2 very large and angry sheep dogs, not one to argue and the fact they have 4 leg drive, I retreated through the woodland to find la Charme. It was worth noting there was lots of hailstone on the floor from the nights before storms and it was cold enough at 1799m not to melt, hmm was this sign of what is going to happen on the UTMB!

la Charme and somewhere to buy Cheese on the UTMB course at 1799m

At about 1780m, hailstone from last nights storm, it was cold on the body

At least I knew I was at la Charme!

I did this run once more followed by a steady jog along the UTMB route to Chamonix and back. It is worth saying at this stage I saw this distinct runner on several occasions and sure it was Anton Kupricka, or a lookalike. This was the last bit of running before the main event. The rest of the time was spent going round the UTMB salon and chatting to other runners and looking at lots and lots of kit for sale, wow, I have never seen so much running kit.
the view from about 1600m looking down the Chamonix valley

At last 6 days before the race and I can feel the atmosphere in Chamonix :)


This is easy as I could run in shorts and light T shirt, on the longer 30km run I wore my compression shorts and calf socks. The Salomon Hat kept the sun off my head together with the excellent Sportech S'Track glasses, they do a good job of not steaming up, keeping the sun out of my eyes and they are so light they are un noticeable on my head and no pressure points from the frame. I ran with a mixture of my 15l Omm pack and my Salomon Slab 12l pack. The Salomon will be used on the UTMB. The trainers I used were Salomon Ultras and Mizuno Wave Harrier 3, with Salomon shoes been the choice of my race shoe.

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