One Epic Event (work in progress)

Finishing UTMB after running 42 hours. :)

Finishing UTMB after running 42 hours. 🙂

 

Packet Pickup

If I complain about anything related to the organization of the event, I’m going to complain about the packet pickup.  I was given some bad information from some of the folks working at the packet pickup about the one drop bag.  I was told by one guy that I had to have my drop bag.  However, when I arrived to go through the line to get my packet, I didn’t need my drop bag.  That was a bit frustrating due to all the extra walking I had to do but that’s my one and only complaint.

I took my pack and stood in line for about 15-20 minutes.  The line wasn’t that long.  The delay with the line is due to the gear inspection.  First, you’re given the list of the mandatory gear that has random items selected.  The random items are then inspected at a separate station.  One of the items they checked was my long sleeve base layer.  The list says it must be 200 grams.  They weighed my base layer.  They do randomly check that you have the mandatory gear.  My recommendation is to have all the required gear.  I ended up wearing everything I carried including some extra socks I took just in case.

After picking up everything, the runners are giving an opportunity to get their picture made. I couldn’t resist getting a good pre-race photo taken.

Pre-race Packet Pickup 2017 Phote

Pre-race Packet Pickup 2017 Photo

 

Race Start (Chamonix)

Wow!  I’ve never seen 2500 trail runners jammed into a small area inside a beautiful town waiting for a race to start.  It was great and weird at the same time.  The commentators covering the race had enough energy to complete a 200-mile race.  It was incredible.  I was lined up almost in the very back of the field.  It was the craziest race I’ve ever been in.  It felt like I was at a party or something.  Everyone was on edge because they knew they were about to start an EPIC event and there wasn’t a guarantee that they would finish.  Sure, we had all done races required to have the points to put our names in the lottery, but that was months ago or years ago.  This was it.  We were lined up waiting to start our journey

We were lined up waiting to start our journey.  A journey that for most, would last between 33 and 43 hours.  Starting a race at 6pm when you’re not a fast runner ensures you get to run two nights instead of one.  This is the aspect of the race I believe every runner would pay close attention to.  I’ve run a few hundred mile races over the last few years.  However, I haven’t run any that required me to run through two full nights.  This makes a difference.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself.  I’ll write more on that later in this post.

After waiting about an hour for the race to start, it finally got started.  I’ve included a few pictures and videos to give you an idea of what it’s like.  The pace at the beginning was super slow.  Basically, I was walking for about half-a-mile.  The spectators were 4 and 5 deep running out of town.  David and I took our time and didn’t worry about the fact we were in the back of the pack.  I figured that I wouldn’t have any trouble passing runners on the course and I was hoping I stayed strong on the climbs when other faded.  Refecting back, I know how foolish I was to think such things.

It turns out that it’s very difficult to pass both on the climbs an on the downhills.  The attitude around letting runners pass is different that I’m familiar with in the states.  It seems as though everyone ran the race like they believed they were going to podium.  I found this to be frustrating.  I’m used to runners in the middle and back of the pack to not be concerned with other runners passing.  They certainly wouldn’t make it difficult for a runner to pass.  It felt that way at this race.  That left me only true opportunity to pass runners in the aid stations and that ended up being challenging as well.

Aid Stations

The Pros:

The food was great.

  • Break
  • Crackers
  • Cheese
  • Meats
  • Chocolates
  • Deserts
  • Sparkling water (with gas)
  • Water (without gas)
  • They had some kind of sports drink I wasn’t familiar with so I didn’t try it.
  • Noodles with soup
  • Broth
  • Coffee

It was truly a great selection of food to chow down on when you were in the aid stations.

The Cons:

However, it was crowded.  Especially where I met my crew.  That means that an aid station stop that would normally take me 5 minutes was 10-15 minutes and an aid station stop that would normally take me 15-20 minutes took 30 minutes or more.  It kinda sucked.  At Courmayeur, they had spaghetti but they ran out of sauce and I had to refill my water bottles in the freaking toilets.  Nothing like getting water next to a line of runners trying to take a dump.  I wasn’t in the very back of the pack.  I was probably very close to the middle of the pack at this point in the race.  Perhaps they refilled their supplies but I was a little annoyed with this.  It just shows you that you can’t depend on race aid stations.  It’s best to always have a backup plan.  Which I did but it was still disappointing.  I could see others chowing down on spaghetti with sauce and I was eating plain noodles.

The other aid stations didn’t have the same problems.  Regardless of my compliants, I was overwhelmed with the people, towns, and sights  I was seeing.  It was truly incredible.

 

 

UTMB Start Running Through the Arches

UTMB Start Running Through the Arches

UTMB 2017 Start of Race

UTMB 2017 Start of Race

 

 

 

 

 

Les Houches