Ultra Trail Mont Blanc – July insight

An ultra running training camp to the French Alps was the highlight of the July training phase. 78 miles with 21,000 ft of climbing and slightly more descending. Bouts of 26, 23, 13, 10 and 6 miles, mostly in sweltering heat, with one midnight excursion onto the mountain paths to boost competence and confidence. I was in good spirits at the end. The trip confirmed the training has worked, the body can handle the long descents, cope with the long climbs and the kit is adequate.

Whilst I am an individual with long term ‘minimalist’ shoe experience and exposure, the common sense prevailed to wear a shoe with a thicker based sole. The Altra Superior was amazing on the relentless descents and marching uphill.

In the middle of the trip I crewed for my two brothers, Dave and Phil, (David and Philip to our Mum!) as they took on and completed the mammoth challenge of the Tour de Mont Blanc, TDMB. 334km and 30,000 ft of relentless cycling over some infamous mountain climbs, circumnavigating Mont Blanc. ūüßź 2 wheels? Why didn’t I think of that.
‚ÄčThe drive really helped to identify some of the checkpoints for UTMB and also reinforced an appreciation of the challenge ahead. As if I needed to watch my brothers smash round on a bike to confirm the magnitude of the UTMB route.

The penultimate climb to Cormet de Roseland. The cyclists were 16 hours into their day at this point. Having experienced 36 degree temperatures on the Italian side, they were cycling to summits at dusk in cold air and exhausted. Grinding out a rhythm, remaining calm and staying in the moment to maintain a positive mindset.

Dave and Phil OC. Both have done the TDMB before. This year, all 3 of us going around the famous mountain. 2 on a bike and 1 on foot. They think I’m mad. Having crewed the bike course I would beg to differ.
Phil OC and Dave OC are TDMB finishers this year. 16 and 18 hours respectively. I’m super proud of them and the rational ‘dark humoured’ manner in which they demonstrated during and after
10km at 10% ave on this climb. Some needed to take a seat to break it up! Stretching Dave out at the checkpoints, monitoring his nutrition and a little nudge here and there to chill out and endure. Big legs and lungs needed throughout.

The day after the TDMB I embarked on a marathon distance set with a moderate amount of climb. The heat of the day certainly made it easier to pace and keep it together. The streams are good to top up bottles, which is handy as I may have got a little lost on the high ground ūü§ęūü§≠… twice. All downhills lead to home although on this occasion it was a ‘black run’ steep and considerably off piste. Getting back onto a mule trail was a relief with a couple of scratches to remind me of the momentary scramble to get to it. Werewolf in London – “don’t stray off the path!” The diversion did get me up close and personal with an Ibex, prancing on a ledge, making me feel inadequately equipped with my human hooves.

The plan is to have a plan. Then stick to it.

My ambition is to finish within 30 hours, by midnight Saturday.
The average pace per mile being 16:30 mins if no breaks were taken, which there will be.
15 mins per mile average will allow for 3 hours of breaks.
It’s ambitious. This is the plan. 
The weather will play a huge role and this will be one of the key elements to be ready for. It is one of the very few factors we have no control over. To be prepared for the worst and maintain forward momentum in the worst weather imaginable is part of the plan.

2 around. 1 to go. Dave and Phil with their finishers t shirts and Mont Blanc in the background

Thanks for visiting the page. Madmule Fitness & Adventure are branching out in 2019/2020. There are plans afoot to bring our knowledge and experience to more Madmule adventures. Last month we began a series of “running faster for longer” sessions to clients in Poole &¬†Bournemouth.¬†Check it out here
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Look out for the September programme which will be available for bookings soon.

For any assistance you require with your training/ lifestyle goals,¬†don’t hesitate to get in touch. Madmule provides coaching for individuals and small groups.

‚ÄčThere is no adventure…unless.
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Best wishes.
‚ÄčRich

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