Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc - Orsieres Champex Chamonix (OCC).
BUFF® are one of the official partners for the event, and were able to sort me an entry to OCC. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity.
I borrowed some poles for the event, much to the disgust of the Catalans that I am staying with. I planned to hold off using them until the third and fourth climbs. That went out the window on the first climbs when sections of >20% gradient presented themselves. I was so glad that I took them, they were worth their weight in gold. More on that in the coming days.
I took it conservatively, and over the top of the second climb (La Giète) I was sitting in 27th. From there I set about my task of picking runners off one by one. I managed to pick off a bunch of runners between Vallorcine and Col des Montets after the third descent.
I had opted to use and refill a 500ml soft flask bottle. It was stiflingly hot, and most of the water was going over my head rather than in my mouth. I was having to ration the use of the water between aid stations. Every now and then I would be saved by a mountain stream or a drinking fountain (found scattered through the Alps). It was a long time between drinks (1:40) from Vallorcine to La Flegere. I suffered on the exposed climb, though knew psychologically that I just had to get to Flegere.
Once at Flegere, now sitting 16th, and faced with 7km of fast downhill running, I reset my watch and ran the final section as a time trial. Firstly to see if I could catch anyone in front, and secondly to try and get the section done in under 35min.
I ended up 16th in 6:06:20. I am very pleased with the result, it represents a massive step in the right direction for me.
CCC tomorrow morning (Friday night NZ time), I will be chasing Ruth Croft around the course.
UTMB tomorrow night (Saturday morning NZ time).
You can follow live here
I would highly recommend any of the UTMB events. The event is a spectacle worth checking out, the likes I have not seen elsewhere.