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gingerbongo




Joined: 21 Sep 2012
Posts: 1290
Location: Devon

PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After whetting my appetite with a 50km trail run across Dartmoor last year, 100km of the Jurassic Coast in May and the Welsh 3000s last weekend i was looking for the next logical step ... a 100 mlier obviously!

I was considering one of two of Climb South West's new events - Jurassic Coast 100 miler and the Coast to Coast (south Devon to North Devon across the Two Moors Way). But these have all been and are challenge events. Don't get me wrong it's been an awesome introduction and i have had 3 x ace days out with friends! The two CSW ones would be more of the same so i started to crave something a little more competitive. Enter MudCrew's Arc of Attrition.

So that's me. Along with the RD of CSW and another friend, we have all entered into the Arc in Feb. I'm really looking forward to it, and will be trying my hardest for a gold buckle, though that is going to be mega tough!

To be fair, i'll probably end up helping out on the other two and doing pretty big sections of them anyway!! haha.

So, at least i now have a nice target to keep me going over the winter.

Anyone else in here either running it next year or who has done it in previous years?
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tunster




Joined: 21 Feb 2010
Posts: 470
Location: Manchester

PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

gingerbongo wrote:
After whetting my appetite with a 50km trail run across Dartmoor last year, 100km of the Jurassic Coast in May and the Welsh 3000s last weekend i was looking for the next logical step ... a 100 mlier obviously!

I was considering one of two of Climb South West's new events - Jurassic Coast 100 miler and the Coast to Coast (south Devon to North Devon across the Two Moors Way). But these have all been and are challenge events. Don't get me wrong it's been an awesome introduction and i have had 3 x ace days out with friends! The two CSW ones would be more of the same so i started to crave something a little more competitive. Enter MudCrew's Arc of Attrition.

So that's me. Along with the RD of CSW and another friend, we have all entered into the Arc in Feb. I'm really looking forward to it, and will be trying my hardest for a gold buckle, though that is going to be mega tough!

To be fair, i'll probably end up helping out on the other two and doing pretty big sections of them anyway!! haha.

So, at least i now have a nice target to keep me going over the winter.

Anyone else in here either running it next year or who has done it in previous years?


never done it myself - has a tough rep and a lot depends on the weather at this time of year - look forward to hearing all about it
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smitters




Joined: 27 Aug 2009
Posts: 1719
Location: Enjoying my new favourite run

PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

t1mmy wrote:
Hey everyone, I'm looking for a little nutritional advice.

In a couple of weekends time I'm running Endure24 for the third time. Having been in teams of 6 and 4 I've entered solo this year, which will offer a different set of challenges!

It's a trail course (not very technical) which consists of a single 5 mile loop. My brother will be on hand as support so I'll be able to pick up food and drink from him each lap. The loop consists of 3 hills and I plan to adopt a walk the hills and run/jog the rest from the start strategy , then see how it goes.

Drink wise I'll be taking 500ml each lap (approx 50-60 mins per loop) and will take a few small sips every km or so. I find this usually works best for me rather than holding out and knocking more back in one go.

So onto my nutrition predicament. What should I do? I'm currently thinking of eating a banana and a nut/chocolate based flapjack on each loop. I was also thinking of some sort of pasta and meat meal every so many hours.

What are your thoughts?


How'd it go? I guess TT in general and therefore the Ultra bit in particular is getting quieter and quieter. Not that I could have given any advice. I did the Cotswold 24 hour this year, a few weeks after Endure and licked up my best tip watching youtube vids of Jamil Coury on the Hardrock 100. I ended up making avocado and tomato wraps and they were a total saviour - refreshing, easy to stomach and portable for eating on the go.

No real reason to do a full report as I don't have the style of Mr Repo, not was it a fascinating experience from the outside, though I loved it, despite things not going to plan.

Training went well to May, when I picked up a toe injury I'm still struggling with months later thanks to a woeful NHS podiatry service and a total lack of consensus between any professional I've seen on the issue. But, grumbling aside, I tapered hard for seven weeks, then ran one lap (9km), hurt my knee and settled in for a bloody long walk.

About lap seven things were considerably less amusing than they had been so I stopped for a quick 20 minute kip, got inexplicably trapped in my down sleeping bag for hours, and set off again at first light to complete another three laps and 90km. I didn't have the time to go for 108km and break the 100km barrier and 99km seemed too annoying for words, so I was happy to stop. My A goal was 100 miles, my B goal was 75-80 miles and to run strong throughout and my C goal was to have fun and try to get a distance PB. C goal achieved then.

In hindsight, I'd like to have had a little bit more grit and slept less, but I had a ball, got a good 27km done on day two, when second days have been an Achilles heel of mine in races and training, and wasn't so broken up that I couldn't smack round Tough Mudder a few weeks later.

I'll be back next year, hopefully with a little more running and a target to go 100km plus. I'm currently being humbled, tracking a mate in the Tor des Geants. They're 52 hours in and he's fourth Brit, about 150th of 700, done 165 km, climbed 14500m and had three hours kip. Mental.
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tunster




Joined: 21 Feb 2010
Posts: 470
Location: Manchester

PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So Facebookers have already had the short form of race report - this is the slightly longer, sit down with a small cup of tea and a biscuit kind of version for a read. UTMB 2017 - the long report. It won't be as eloquent as a Repo report but here goes. Hoping the video links work!

It was a bit of a strange build up to UTMB 2017 and probably not entirely unrelated to previous experiences in 2014 and 2015. Both of those attempts had ended in failure at mile 75 when I had pulled out with zero energy left and quads in bits meaning that downhills had become painful shuffles.

In 2014, the weather on the Friday night was tipping rain recovering to be a nice warm day on the Saturday. In 2015 it was really really hot and that also badly affected my performance.

2016 I didn't have enough points to enter, so after a year of qualifying races I was back for another crack.

I had to do something different in training - didn't someone say the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? The differences in training for this event: forcing myself to do hills and big events earlier in the year which meant that serious training was already in progress at Christmas. Transgrancanaria (very very hilly February race and although didn't finish due to chest infection, I did do 100km with 8000m of climbing), lots of hills reps up and down Winter Hill (getting very dull but good training in the bank), more gym sessions in the gym with weights.

It was great to be visiting Chamonix this year with several members of Tent 134 - guys I had met during the Marathon des Sables and who had be great friends ever since. Tom Adler - back this year to do the CCC (Courmayeur, Champex, Chamonix route - 101km), James Noble (doing the UTMB for the second time having pulled out at Champex with me last year) and Sam Meadows (also doing UTMB but as a first timer). Alan Woods (best runner from Tent 134 and also very experienced mountain runner) was along to support before going on to the Ultra Trail Monte Rosa (where he came a brilliant overall 8th place in the 4 stage race).

In addition we had Jacqui (Tom’s wife), Veronica (Mrs Tunster) and Caitlin (Miss Tunster), Manon and Alfie the Patterdale Terrier who came all the way from the Netherlands with Alan and Manon.

The weather in Chamonix leading up to the start was grim with snow forecast even in Chamonix (between rain, rain and lots of more rain). This didn't fill us with great optimism - experience from the course in 2014 was that a lot of rain plus a lot of runners = very muddy conditions which could be difficult to run in.

Race day comes around all too quickly. The race is confirmed as on but with minor changes due to the weather. We try to lie in on Friday as long as possible but always difficult with pre-race nerves starting to kick in. The 6.30pm start is a pain in the proverbial.

Despite being up early is a great bonus to be able to watch Tom on the start line of the CCC - being at the front of pen 3, he is on livetrail.tv which provides really good coverage of all of the races during UTMB week. Tom makes a great start and is well ahead of his target times by the second checkpoint as we follow his progress through the course of the day which is really encouraging and adds to the mood of optimism.

The rain also seems to have stopped which is great to see!

A quick post lunch snooze and then get ready - pack the rucksack for about the 5th time. We head to the main square a couple of hours beforehand to bag a decent spot at the start. I meet with James but Sam has some last minute faffing to do in the hotel which means that we are separated at the start. 2 hours of arse numbing sitting on the floor later, the elite athletes pitch up ready for the off. Amazing to be a part of a race which has the greatest ever assembled field of ultra runners taking part. This will of course be the last time we see them as the moment the race begins they are out of sight.

The start is as usual, absolutely amazing, the crowd whipped to a frenzy with Vangelis’s Conquest of Paradise playing in the background. The cheering and shouting of the crowds is deafening - at least 10 deep on either side. The closest I will ever come to feeling like a professional athlete - amazing. If I could bottle this I could make a fortune. The only other times I have experienced anything like it are: Solarberg Hill on the Roth ironman course, Heartbreak Hill at Ironman Switzerland and the finish line of the New York Marathon. No wait, I take it back - this trumps them all by a country mile.

The shouting and cheering continues all the way through Chamonix with a quick wave to Veronica, Jacqui and Caitlin who are waiting at a pre agreed point along the route for a wave and to film us going past.

The streets of Chamonix are the last time I will see James running on the race - twice in fact. We meet at aid stations but not otherwise. He disappears the first time only to reappear again on the outskirts of Chamonix having stopped to take off his outer socks. He then disappears for the second time as we approach the start of the trail, shooting down the trail at a pace I really didn't want to match that early in the race.

The first section of trail is more gently undulating than anything although there is a lot of pressure from the volume of runners to keep a good pace going. Hard to remember at this point that it is a long long race and we need to keep if slow to get to the finish. Only another 165km at this point! 8km down and we arrive at Les Houches for the drinks station at which I grab a cup of water and move on having hardly touched the water in my backpack. No refills needed at this point.

Les Houches marks the start of the first real climb - up alongside the ski slopes to Le Delevret - not high by the standards of the rest of the course but high enough to be into the low cloud (its cold and the shape of things to come). Back down the other side to St Gervais and I feel I am making good time having navigated the ski slopes and descent into St Gervais comfortably and well within the 3 hours from the start that I was hoping for.

https://videos.livetrail.net/videos/utmb/pt02_2017-09-01-21.23.25.mp4 (Crossing the line about 9seconds in)

A quick in and out and off to Les Contamines. This is a fairly uneventful section except that I managed to massively stub my big toe on the right foot which is still hurting now.

From St Gervais through to Col du Bonhomme it is pretty much uphill all the way for 25km and is a long long hard slog. The weather has by now turned for the worse with a lot of rain and very cold at the top of the Col du Bonhomme - nothing for it but to get down the other side as quick as possible. I decide to get some proper grub at the next aid station at Les Chapieux and have a pause to aid the digestion - 10 mins max. At 50km in and 9 hours after the start it is great to meet up with Sam as Les Chapieux who is looking great but eating something which looks like a tub of baby food. Gross.

We head out up to the next climb along the valley to the Col de la Seigne - another long hard slog but it is great to have some company. The weather at the top of the Col is bitterly cold with snow and a very cold wind - well below freezing and we see a Japanese lady heading back down from the summit clearly very very cold with foil blanket on being escorted by her friends back to Les Chapieux to pull out. The summit arrives and is breathtakingly beautiful with the valley below and Lac Combal in the distance. It is too cold to open my jacket though to get the camera out and take some shots. Must press on to keep warm.

Just over the summit the route was diverted so that it didn't include the climb to the Col des Pyramides which I have to say I am not too disappointed about. That climb 2 years ago was horrendous over some very tough terrain and slow descent over very rocky ground. Instead we stick to the “old” 2014 route straight down to Lac Combal.

On the climb to Arete du Mont Favre we are getting warmer and persuade Sam to go on ahead as I am slowing him down on the ascents. I will try to catch him on the descents to Col Chericout and Courmayeur. The next 13 km or so to Courmayeur are fairly uneventful except for a chap in front of me who trips on a rock and nearly falls off the edge of the valley - manage to cling on to his outstretched pole to keep him from slipping down. A brief “merci” and we are on the way again. From the top of Arete du Mont Favre to Courmayeur is a nice runnable section, the sun has come out and everything feels good. I am looking forward to seeing Veronica and Caitlin in Courmayeur - the halfway checkpoint.

https://videos.livetrail.net/videos/utmb/pt12_2017-09-02-10.19.20.mp4 (blue Hardmoors 55 finishers top heading for bottom right of screen)

Arriving into Courmayeur it is also good to see James who has had some food, changed some clothes etc and is ready for the off again when he has seen me come in. Sam arrives just before me as well. Veronica and Caitlin do a great job of efficiently organising all the things we had to do - change socks and shoes, change shirt, drink ensure x 2, have some pasta, top up bottles, battery for phone, new gels etc. Sam and I are ushered on our way after 40 mins (20 mins faster than 2015 but i am sure an about of time that would horrify better runners). We make up 85 places by being in and out “quickly” - the easiest way to make up places on the course.

Sam and I take our time walking out of Courmayeur - it is a fairly steep road and then a short but steep climb up to the Refuge Bertone - only 5km in distance but 800m higher. Each time I have tried this race previously this has been a killer for me - it seems to get a lot of sun and is quite exposed so can leave you baking by the time you get to the top. Keeping slow and steady we make the way to the top - Sam patiently waiting for me very kindly. From the Refuge Bertone to the Refuge Bonatti is fairly flat as the course goes and only 7km but seems to take an eternity. In reality it is 1 hr 40 or so which is a crazy amount of time but does include a rest stop at Bertone before we head off for Arnouvaz.

This is where the weather starts to get nasty. The rain really starts to pound down and as we come to the descent to Arnouvaz itself the floor has turned into a mud bath. We are stuck behind a group of very chatty Finns who are slipping and sliding all over the place and slow us down a lot. Not the worst thing in the world in a long race as there is always room to make up time later - but very annoying when you have no idea what they are talking about in Finnish.

https://videos.livetrail.net/videos/utmb/pt17_2017-09-02-15.39.45.mp4 (waving to camera at 20 seconds)

The marquee at Arnouvaz is organised chaos. The organisers will not allow anyone out who is not in full top to toe waterproofs. The weather at the top of the Grand Col Ferret which is the next climb, and the highest point on the course is apparently horrendous. I hear one Brit saying to one of the course marshals that he will have to pull out as his waterproofs are too small for him. I really don't understand why you would enter such a race with waterproofs that are too small. A crazy reason to have to pull out after 95km.

The climb to the Grand Col Ferret is only 5km but again is long steep and hard going. Sam, despite being told to go on, waits, encourages and eventually coaxes me over the summit in around 2 hours from when we left Arnouvaz. The weather is truly fierce - weather forecast was -9 degrees at the top which i can well believe and the wind was very harsh. Now a long descent ahead of us to La Fouly - we go into runs combined with walking breaks mode to try and warm up as fast as we can. The descent is fairly uneventful but Sam has a developed a cough like a 40 a day smoker which is a bit worrying.

It is nice to see La Fouly in the light for the first time that I have done this race - especially given that the start was delayed by 30 minutes, this means that we are well ahead of previous years when I have done this race and gives me a great deal of encouragement. Time for some noodle soup and coffee before being on our way again.

https://videos.livetrail.net/videos/utmb/pt19_2017-09-02-19.43.15.mp4

The rain is still hammering down and the full waterproofs are still on. The course has been changed again slightly taking us away from the riverside along roads down to Champex Lac (I assume due to the river eroding the path along the cliffs above the river). Sam’s cough is getting worse as we hit the climb to Champex and is really affecting his breathing now, with a tightening of the throat as well. I am getting worried about him. The climb is slow but steady - this time me encouraging Sam as he has to take numerous breaks - this is most unlike him - usually absolutely rock solid on ascending. As we approach Champex he is feeling wheezy and I am glad that Tom, Jacqui, Alan, Manon and Veronica have come to Champex to see us.

https://videos.livetrail.net/videos/utmb/pt21_2017-09-02-23.16.35.mp4

Tom having finished CCC only that morning, being a GP takes over when we arrive and gets Sam seen to in the medical tent - a tug on an asthma inhaler seems to clear things (although Sam has never suffered from asthma previously) seems to make things better, but Sam makes the decision (absolutely the correct decision in my view) to withdraw and to live to fight another day. James left just before I arrived and had taken about 45 mins to try and get some sleep. I had also thought about trying to get some sleep but at this point I am feeling very good and know that the next section is nice before the climb to Bovine begins. Alan does a lot of running round at the aid station and it is great to have someone so experienced helping out. Pasta, coffee and special treat provided by Alan of a Mars Bar is all the encouragement I need. About 30 mins spent here - well worth a bit of time to get some calories down and recharge - 113 places made up. Veronica walks me out of the aid station and 100 m up the road which is a special boost - she tells me how proud she is and that I she will see me in Chamonix - a really special boost that put a spring in my step.

On the climb to Bovine you can see the head torches way way above you on the paths to the summit. Normally this would have got me down a bit but instead just got my head down, steady pace and it didn't seem to long at all before we were heading over the top for the descent to Trient. The descent on the other hand seemed to take quite a long time and towards the end I was feeling really quite tired and starting to see things in the woods.

You can tell by this clip I generally have no idea what I am doing on arrival at Trient.

https://videos.livetrail.net/videos/utmb/pt23_2017-09-03-05.00.05.mp4

once into the tent I decide that a micro nap would be a good thing and get my head down for 10 mins. The tent at Trient was quite strange - the inside had so much moisture from the competitors and the evaporation which then condensed on the ceiling of the marquee giving an indoor rain effect. Nice.

Out of Trient and I feel like I making real progress - only 2 big climbs to go!

The climb to Les Tseppes goes well and I make good progress. The sky is starting to get light as the dawn breaks which gives a nice energy boost. Between coming out of Trient “quickly” and the climb to Tseppes i have made up 61 places reaching the heady heights of 1124th. Smile

The descent to Vallorcine feels long at 7km. The final descent is via some ski slopes before the path takes us off into the woods. At one point there is a walkers sign which says 1h 5 mins to Vallorcine which is quite encouraging. About 40 minutes later there is another sign which says Vallorcine 1 hr 20 - this really plays with your head and caused quite some consternation. The slopes here were runnable but it was hard approaching 150km. Finally we made it to Vallorcine - just as I was entering the aid station I spotted James leaving - I tried to shout to him but he hadn't heard me - clearly in “the zone” onto the final leg towards Chamonix.

https://videos.livetrail.net/videos/utmb/pt25_2017-09-03-08.12.20.mp4

Another quick stop albeit including a trip to the composting eco loos - details to be omitted from this report in case you are still eating those biscuits with your cuppa!

While having a coffee sat next to a French chap lancing his toes which had some spectacular blisters on them. So far I was blister free which made me feel rather smug as I picked myself up for the final push.

A lot of walking going on now even on the flats. The final climb was a re-routed section as the Tete aux Ventes was deemed to be too risky in the weather. This meant that I didn't quite know what to expect with the final climb which seemed to go on and on an on. There was also a nasty downhill section thrown in there which was down some very rocky and rooty sections which were really unpleasant and caused a lot of bottlenecks as people could sense the end was in sight and wanted to keep going as quickly as possible.

Remarkably, the sun has now come out and it is glorious weather - ready for the grand finale.

I had also been surprised by the number of people who seems to have changed their clothes at Vallorcine - presumably so that they were looking their best for the race finish photos. Seemed odd to me but decided as the weather was now warming up and the sun had come out that it might be time to take off the full waterproofs some 24 hours after having put them on.

The track finally threw us out on the ski slopes below La Flegere, slogged our way to the top and then only 7km all downhill to Chamonix.

https://videos.livetrail.net/videos/utmb/pt29_2017-09-03-12.03.55.mp4

Had a really good chat with a lady from Kentucky on the way down - she was super chatty and seemed to make the time go faster although it did seem that Chamonix took an eternity to come round. Eventually though the back streets of Chamonix arrived to give way to the river. I picked up the pace as the adrenaline kicked in. Alan and Tom met me at the start of the main pedestrian street into Chamonix - Tom looking very sprightly for a CCC finisher only the day before. I somehow got into a race with an American chap before gracefully deciding to let him go (i.e. he was too fast), for the run round the square with Veronica to the finish line. The noise from the crowds of supporters was amazing and all a bit surreal. Crossing the finish line was such a relief and have to admit to being a bit emotional. A big group hug with a random bunch of Americans and then a much better hug from Veronica.

https://videos.livetrail.net/videos/utmb/pt95_2017-09-03-13.40.55.mp4


Finished in 43hrs 10mins. Never been happier.

Suunto says 34,500 calories used.

Collect the finishers gillet, cheeky beer followed by lunch. Fair play to all the fellow diners who had to put up with what must have been a rather smelly pair of runners in James (finished 10 mins ahead of me) and myself. By the end of lunch I could hardly keep my eyes open - back to the hotel for shower and sleep (snoring before my head hit the pillow as my daughter described).

A week later and I am still on a high from completing the UTMB. At the time I said never again, now though….

Official UTMB 2017 video here in case you want to see the experts do it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBmwly7twEg

Brilliant brilliant race.
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p00key




Joined: 24 Feb 2005
Posts: 3856
Location: The North

PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tunster wrote:
So Facebookers have already had the short form of race report - this is the slightly longer, sit down with a small cup of tea and a biscuit kind of version for a read. UTMB 2017 - the long report. It won't be as eloquent as a Repo report but here goes. Hoping the video links work!

It was a bit of a strange build up to UTMB 2017 and probably not entirely unrelated to previous experiences in 2014 and 2015. Both of those attempts had ended in failure at mile 75 when I had pulled out with zero energy left and quads in bits meaning that downhills had become painful shuffles.

In 2014, the weather on the Friday night was tipping rain recovering to be a nice warm day on the Saturday. In 2015 it was really really hot and that also badly affected my performance.

2016 I didn't have enough points to enter, so after a year of qualifying races I was back for another crack.

I had to do something different in training - didn't someone say the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? The differences in training for this event: forcing myself to do hills and big events earlier in the year which meant that serious training was already in progress at Christmas. Transgrancanaria (very very hilly February race and although didn't finish due to chest infection, I did do 100km with 8000m of climbing), lots of hills reps up and down Winter Hill (getting very dull but good training in the bank), more gym sessions in the gym with weights.

It was great to be visiting Chamonix this year with several members of Tent 134 - guys I had met during the Marathon des Sables and who had be great friends ever since. Tom Adler - back this year to do the CCC (Courmayeur, Champex, Chamonix route - 101km), James Noble (doing the UTMB for the second time having pulled out at Champex with me last year) and Sam Meadows (also doing UTMB but as a first timer). Alan Woods (best runner from Tent 134 and also very experienced mountain runner) was along to support before going on to the Ultra Trail Monte Rosa (where he came a brilliant overall 8th place in the 4 stage race).

In addition we had Jacqui (Tom’s wife), Veronica (Mrs Tunster) and Caitlin (Miss Tunster), Manon and Alfie the Patterdale Terrier who came all the way from the Netherlands with Alan and Manon.

The weather in Chamonix leading up to the start was grim with snow forecast even in Chamonix (between rain, rain and lots of more rain). This didn't fill us with great optimism - experience from the course in 2014 was that a lot of rain plus a lot of runners = very muddy conditions which could be difficult to run in.

Race day comes around all too quickly. The race is confirmed as on but with minor changes due to the weather. We try to lie in on Friday as long as possible but always difficult with pre-race nerves starting to kick in. The 6.30pm start is a pain in the proverbial.

Despite being up early is a great bonus to be able to watch Tom on the start line of the CCC - being at the front of pen 3, he is on livetrail.tv which provides really good coverage of all of the races during UTMB week. Tom makes a great start and is well ahead of his target times by the second checkpoint as we follow his progress through the course of the day which is really encouraging and adds to the mood of optimism.

The rain also seems to have stopped which is great to see!

A quick post lunch snooze and then get ready - pack the rucksack for about the 5th time. We head to the main square a couple of hours beforehand to bag a decent spot at the start. I meet with James but Sam has some last minute faffing to do in the hotel which means that we are separated at the start. 2 hours of arse numbing sitting on the floor later, the elite athletes pitch up ready for the off. Amazing to be a part of a race which has the greatest ever assembled field of ultra runners taking part. This will of course be the last time we see them as the moment the race begins they are out of sight.

The start is as usual, absolutely amazing, the crowd whipped to a frenzy with Vangelis’s Conquest of Paradise playing in the background. The cheering and shouting of the crowds is deafening - at least 10 deep on either side. The closest I will ever come to feeling like a professional athlete - amazing. If I could bottle this I could make a fortune. The only other times I have experienced anything like it are: Solarberg Hill on the Roth ironman course, Heartbreak Hill at Ironman Switzerland and the finish line of the New York Marathon. No wait, I take it back - this trumps them all by a country mile.

The shouting and cheering continues all the way through Chamonix with a quick wave to Veronica, Jacqui and Caitlin who are waiting at a pre agreed point along the route for a wave and to film us going past.

The streets of Chamonix are the last time I will see James running on the race - twice in fact. We meet at aid stations but not otherwise. He disappears the first time only to reappear again on the outskirts of Chamonix having stopped to take off his outer socks. He then disappears for the second time as we approach the start of the trail, shooting down the trail at a pace I really didn't want to match that early in the race.

The first section of trail is more gently undulating than anything although there is a lot of pressure from the volume of runners to keep a good pace going. Hard to remember at this point that it is a long long race and we need to keep if slow to get to the finish. Only another 165km at this point! 8km down and we arrive at Les Houches for the drinks station at which I grab a cup of water and move on having hardly touched the water in my backpack. No refills needed at this point.

Les Houches marks the start of the first real climb - up alongside the ski slopes to Le Delevret - not high by the standards of the rest of the course but high enough to be into the low cloud (its cold and the shape of things to come). Back down the other side to St Gervais and I feel I am making good time having navigated the ski slopes and descent into St Gervais comfortably and well within the 3 hours from the start that I was hoping for.

https://videos.livetrail.net/videos/utmb/pt02_2017-09-01-21.23.25.mp4 (Crossing the line about 9seconds in)

A quick in and out and off to Les Contamines. This is a fairly uneventful section except that I managed to massively stub my big toe on the right foot which is still hurting now.

From St Gervais through to Col du Bonhomme it is pretty much uphill all the way for 25km and is a long long hard slog. The weather has by now turned for the worse with a lot of rain and very cold at the top of the Col du Bonhomme - nothing for it but to get down the other side as quick as possible. I decide to get some proper grub at the next aid station at Les Chapieux and have a pause to aid the digestion - 10 mins max. At 50km in and 9 hours after the start it is great to meet up with Sam as Les Chapieux who is looking great but eating something which looks like a tub of baby food. Gross.

We head out up to the next climb along the valley to the Col de la Seigne - another long hard slog but it is great to have some company. The weather at the top of the Col is bitterly cold with snow and a very cold wind - well below freezing and we see a Japanese lady heading back down from the summit clearly very very cold with foil blanket on being escorted by her friends back to Les Chapieux to pull out. The summit arrives and is breathtakingly beautiful with the valley below and Lac Combal in the distance. It is too cold to open my jacket though to get the camera out and take some shots. Must press on to keep warm.

Just over the summit the route was diverted so that it didn't include the climb to the Col des Pyramides which I have to say I am not too disappointed about. That climb 2 years ago was horrendous over some very tough terrain and slow descent over very rocky ground. Instead we stick to the “old” 2014 route straight down to Lac Combal.

On the climb to Arete du Mont Favre we are getting warmer and persuade Sam to go on ahead as I am slowing him down on the ascents. I will try to catch him on the descents to Col Chericout and Courmayeur. The next 13 km or so to Courmayeur are fairly uneventful except for a chap in front of me who trips on a rock and nearly falls off the edge of the valley - manage to cling on to his outstretched pole to keep him from slipping down. A brief “merci” and we are on the way again. From the top of Arete du Mont Favre to Courmayeur is a nice runnable section, the sun has come out and everything feels good. I am looking forward to seeing Veronica and Caitlin in Courmayeur - the halfway checkpoint.

https://videos.livetrail.net/videos/utmb/pt12_2017-09-02-10.19.20.mp4 (blue Hardmoors 55 finishers top heading for bottom right of screen)

Arriving into Courmayeur it is also good to see James who has had some food, changed some clothes etc and is ready for the off again when he has seen me come in. Sam arrives just before me as well. Veronica and Caitlin do a great job of efficiently organising all the things we had to do - change socks and shoes, change shirt, drink ensure x 2, have some pasta, top up bottles, battery for phone, new gels etc. Sam and I are ushered on our way after 40 mins (20 mins faster than 2015 but i am sure an about of time that would horrify better runners). We make up 85 places by being in and out “quickly” - the easiest way to make up places on the course.

Sam and I take our time walking out of Courmayeur - it is a fairly steep road and then a short but steep climb up to the Refuge Bertone - only 5km in distance but 800m higher. Each time I have tried this race previously this has been a killer for me - it seems to get a lot of sun and is quite exposed so can leave you baking by the time you get to the top. Keeping slow and steady we make the way to the top - Sam patiently waiting for me very kindly. From the Refuge Bertone to the Refuge Bonatti is fairly flat as the course goes and only 7km but seems to take an eternity. In reality it is 1 hr 40 or so which is a crazy amount of time but does include a rest stop at Bertone before we head off for Arnouvaz.

This is where the weather starts to get nasty. The rain really starts to pound down and as we come to the descent to Arnouvaz itself the floor has turned into a mud bath. We are stuck behind a group of very chatty Finns who are slipping and sliding all over the place and slow us down a lot. Not the worst thing in the world in a long race as there is always room to make up time later - but very annoying when you have no idea what they are talking about in Finnish.

https://videos.livetrail.net/videos/utmb/pt17_2017-09-02-15.39.45.mp4 (waving to camera at 20 seconds)

The marquee at Arnouvaz is organised chaos. The organisers will not allow anyone out who is not in full top to toe waterproofs. The weather at the top of the Grand Col Ferret which is the next climb, and the highest point on the course is apparently horrendous. I hear one Brit saying to one of the course marshals that he will have to pull out as his waterproofs are too small for him. I really don't understand why you would enter such a race with waterproofs that are too small. A crazy reason to have to pull out after 95km.

The climb to the Grand Col Ferret is only 5km but again is long steep and hard going. Sam, despite being told to go on, waits, encourages and eventually coaxes me over the summit in around 2 hours from when we left Arnouvaz. The weather is truly fierce - weather forecast was -9 degrees at the top which i can well believe and the wind was very harsh. Now a long descent ahead of us to La Fouly - we go into runs combined with walking breaks mode to try and warm up as fast as we can. The descent is fairly uneventful but Sam has a developed a cough like a 40 a day smoker which is a bit worrying.

It is nice to see La Fouly in the light for the first time that I have done this race - especially given that the start was delayed by 30 minutes, this means that we are well ahead of previous years when I have done this race and gives me a great deal of encouragement. Time for some noodle soup and coffee before being on our way again.

https://videos.livetrail.net/videos/utmb/pt19_2017-09-02-19.43.15.mp4

The rain is still hammering down and the full waterproofs are still on. The course has been changed again slightly taking us away from the riverside along roads down to Champex Lac (I assume due to the river eroding the path along the cliffs above the river). Sam’s cough is getting worse as we hit the climb to Champex and is really affecting his breathing now, with a tightening of the throat as well. I am getting worried about him. The climb is slow but steady - this time me encouraging Sam as he has to take numerous breaks - this is most unlike him - usually absolutely rock solid on ascending. As we approach Champex he is feeling wheezy and I am glad that Tom, Jacqui, Alan, Manon and Veronica have come to Champex to see us.

https://videos.livetrail.net/videos/utmb/pt21_2017-09-02-23.16.35.mp4

Tom having finished CCC only that morning, being a GP takes over when we arrive and gets Sam seen to in the medical tent - a tug on an asthma inhaler seems to clear things (although Sam has never suffered from asthma previously) seems to make things better, but Sam makes the decision (absolutely the correct decision in my view) to withdraw and to live to fight another day. James left just before I arrived and had taken about 45 mins to try and get some sleep. I had also thought about trying to get some sleep but at this point I am feeling very good and know that the next section is nice before the climb to Bovine begins. Alan does a lot of running round at the aid station and it is great to have someone so experienced helping out. Pasta, coffee and special treat provided by Alan of a Mars Bar is all the encouragement I need. About 30 mins spent here - well worth a bit of time to get some calories down and recharge - 113 places made up. Veronica walks me out of the aid station and 100 m up the road which is a special boost - she tells me how proud she is and that I she will see me in Chamonix - a really special boost that put a spring in my step.

On the climb to Bovine you can see the head torches way way above you on the paths to the summit. Normally this would have got me down a bit but instead just got my head down, steady pace and it didn't seem to long at all before we were heading over the top for the descent to Trient. The descent on the other hand seemed to take quite a long time and towards the end I was feeling really quite tired and starting to see things in the woods.

You can tell by this clip I generally have no idea what I am doing on arrival at Trient.

https://videos.livetrail.net/videos/utmb/pt23_2017-09-03-05.00.05.mp4

once into the tent I decide that a micro nap would be a good thing and get my head down for 10 mins. The tent at Trient was quite strange - the inside had so much moisture from the competitors and the evaporation which then condensed on the ceiling of the marquee giving an indoor rain effect. Nice.

Out of Trient and I feel like I making real progress - only 2 big climbs to go!

The climb to Les Tseppes goes well and I make good progress. The sky is starting to get light as the dawn breaks which gives a nice energy boost. Between coming out of Trient “quickly” and the climb to Tseppes i have made up 61 places reaching the heady heights of 1124th. Smile

The descent to Vallorcine feels long at 7km. The final descent is via some ski slopes before the path takes us off into the woods. At one point there is a walkers sign which says 1h 5 mins to Vallorcine which is quite encouraging. About 40 minutes later there is another sign which says Vallorcine 1 hr 20 - this really plays with your head and caused quite some consternation. The slopes here were runnable but it was hard approaching 150km. Finally we made it to Vallorcine - just as I was entering the aid station I spotted James leaving - I tried to shout to him but he hadn't heard me - clearly in “the zone” onto the final leg towards Chamonix.

https://videos.livetrail.net/videos/utmb/pt25_2017-09-03-08.12.20.mp4

Another quick stop albeit including a trip to the composting eco loos - details to be omitted from this report in case you are still eating those biscuits with your cuppa!

While having a coffee sat next to a French chap lancing his toes which had some spectacular blisters on them. So far I was blister free which made me feel rather smug as I picked myself up for the final push.

A lot of walking going on now even on the flats. The final climb was a re-routed section as the Tete aux Ventes was deemed to be too risky in the weather. This meant that I didn't quite know what to expect with the final climb which seemed to go on and on an on. There was also a nasty downhill section thrown in there which was down some very rocky and rooty sections which were really unpleasant and caused a lot of bottlenecks as people could sense the end was in sight and wanted to keep going as quickly as possible.

Remarkably, the sun has now come out and it is glorious weather - ready for the grand finale.

I had also been surprised by the number of people who seems to have changed their clothes at Vallorcine - presumably so that they were looking their best for the race finish photos. Seemed odd to me but decided as the weather was now warming up and the sun had come out that it might be time to take off the full waterproofs some 24 hours after having put them on.

The track finally threw us out on the ski slopes below La Flegere, slogged our way to the top and then only 7km all downhill to Chamonix.

https://videos.livetrail.net/videos/utmb/pt29_2017-09-03-12.03.55.mp4

Had a really good chat with a lady from Kentucky on the way down - she was super chatty and seemed to make the time go faster although it did seem that Chamonix took an eternity to come round. Eventually though the back streets of Chamonix arrived to give way to the river. I picked up the pace as the adrenaline kicked in. Alan and Tom met me at the start of the main pedestrian street into Chamonix - Tom looking very sprightly for a CCC finisher only the day before. I somehow got into a race with an American chap before gracefully deciding to let him go (i.e. he was too fast), for the run round the square with Veronica to the finish line. The noise from the crowds of supporters was amazing and all a bit surreal. Crossing the finish line was such a relief and have to admit to being a bit emotional. A big group hug with a random bunch of Americans and then a much better hug from Veronica.

https://videos.livetrail.net/videos/utmb/pt95_2017-09-03-13.40.55.mp4


Finished in 43hrs 10mins. Never been happier.

Suunto says 34,500 calories used.

Collect the finishers gillet, cheeky beer followed by lunch. Fair play to all the fellow diners who had to put up with what must have been a rather smelly pair of runners in James (finished 10 mins ahead of me) and myself. By the end of lunch I could hardly keep my eyes open - back to the hotel for shower and sleep (snoring before my head hit the pillow as my daughter described).

A week later and I am still on a high from completing the UTMB. At the time I said never again, now though….

Official UTMB 2017 video here in case you want to see the experts do it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBmwly7twEg

Brilliant brilliant race.


Great report and well done on such a tough race .
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gingerbongo




Joined: 21 Sep 2012
Posts: 1290
Location: Devon

PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice report and well done on an epic race!!! It really does sound awesome!
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hillwall




Joined: 10 Aug 2010
Posts: 1729
Location: Norwich

PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great stuff. Still not convinced I want to do this yet but things may change in time.

I'm on the waiting list for Arc of Attrition...
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gingerbongo




Joined: 21 Sep 2012
Posts: 1290
Location: Devon

PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hillwall wrote:
Great stuff. Still not convinced I want to do this yet but things may change in time.

I'm on the waiting list for Arc of Attrition...


Quality HillWall.

My friend was chatting with one of the RDs on the weekend, and she said that there's a good chance people on the waiting list will all get places, as there tends to be a lot of drop outs as the time nears.

So get your headtorch ready!!
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hillwall




Joined: 10 Aug 2010
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Location: Norwich

PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I figured there's likely to be plenty of dropouts. My father in law lives 50m from the start so I shall recce some of the route when we next go down to visit.
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themoid




Joined: 21 Mar 2006
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Location: here. or london. or on site. or MK

PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

anyone else in for the Montane Cheviot Goat ultra in December ?
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tunster




Joined: 21 Feb 2010
Posts: 470
Location: Manchester

PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

themoid wrote:
anyone else in for the Montane Cheviot Goat ultra in December ?


ooh - now that looks interesting
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Transgrancanaria, Hardmoors 55, Thames Path 100, Apocalypse 50, Manchester Half, Lakeland Trails 110km, UTMB, Escape from Meriden
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p00key




Joined: 24 Feb 2005
Posts: 3856
Location: The North

PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tunster wrote:
themoid wrote:
anyone else in for the Montane Cheviot Goat ultra in December ?


ooh - now that looks interesting


+1 looks very interesting !
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themoid




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Location: here. or london. or on site. or MK

PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Doesn't it just. From the posts on Facebook there are some good runners doing it, past winners of Lakes 100, Spine....and then there's value for money guys like me Very Happy

There were 32 places left yesterday...

Stu
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smitters




Joined: 27 Aug 2009
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Location: Enjoying my new favourite run

PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Entries just opened for people who hate their knees:

http://apexrunning.co/utsrace/
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PCP




Joined: 13 Oct 2012
Posts: 1635
Location: Manchester

PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've eased myself into ultras by signing up for Liverpool to Manchester 50 miler. It is pretty flat mainly on canal paths.

I will still be doing triathlons with a Middle in June, IMUK in July and a Challenge Half in Oct.

What is the best kind of running prep for this as I will still be swimming and biking a lot over winter. The race is the 1st weekend of April.
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