98 miles 27,000 ft
This is Europe’s toughest foot race. It starts and finishes in Chamonix France, and circles the Mont-Blanc massif going through Italy and Switzerland.
So on a sunny August evening at 6.30pm on Friday I lined up with 1922 like-minded souls. A guy sat next to me, translated the half hour of French instruction into the weather is o.k. I was happy enough with that. The start was a blur of runners and spectators cheering, followed by scrambles for food at checkpoints. The light faded to dark and mountain pass after mountain pass followed until a huge decent into Courmayuer Italy, and the arrival of daylight. This marked the half way point and was a chance to change kit, treat blisters, and eat some of my own food. 40 minutes later and back to huge ups and downs (literal and mental), one being the rain, which would not relent until 5 am on Sunday.
Switzerland was dark and wet the only plus was the ¾ distance checkpoint in Champex oh and I met Niall whose company I enjoyed through a night of relentless hills and vivid hallucinations (mainly street scenes, rabbits, and dogs). The last part of the run was mentally tiring Niall and I spurred each other on. My toughest moments were dealing with a delay in hearing my own voice. This disturbed me for the final 4 hours. During which time we encountered Sir Ranulph Fiennes, as he passed us.
The finish line eventually came, a welcome scene of spectators clapping, and a chance to sit down. So after 38 hours and 31 minutes I was back in Chamonix more tired than I have ever been, but feeling stronger in every other way.