Fick en racereport från Perra på perfekt forskarengelska och på köpet kom uppdraget att rubriksätta de avslutande styckena. Känns inte det lite som att sätta Robinsson Robban på att leda en kurs i impulskontroll? men den är värd ett försök i alla fall. Hur som helst så gjorde han ett riktigt bra race, här kommer dessutom en riktigt välskriven racereport.
Ok, how to summarize the UTMB and CCC experience? It was more than I expected, it’s as Anders (Svärd, aka Tuggarn) told me on the journey down to Chamonix referring to his Swiss Alpine Marathon race last year: the nature down here is on steroids…
We arrived in Chamonix on Thursday evening; 25 minutes after the race-bib pick-up station had closed. I was still able to collect my stuff as probably the last athlete of all. According to the organization it would have been possible to fix this on race morning but nice to be able to have everything in order before one goes to sleep. Anders had made a wonderful job choosing hotel, Park Suisse, 30 m from the start and finish of UTMB. Morning came after a good night’s sleep and I took the bus to the start at Courmayeur, Italy. The atmosphere at the starting line was amazing. Really amazing! Sun came up, a lot of people cheering and 1900 runners getting ready for 100 km and 6000 meters of climbing. Chills went through my spine as the “UTMB” theme was shouted out from the speakers the minutes before the start. My plan, as always, is to start slow so I ended up in the last start group (out of three with 15 minutes gap) at 0930. In this case this might have been a bit too modest but I didn’t realize that it was going to be single-track all the way up the first climb (Tête de la Tronche at 2584 m) and since I had about 1600 runners before me it took almost three hours to walk-and-queue to the summit. Was seriously a bit concerned about the cut-off times at that point. Those thoughts went out the door as I was able to start running along the rim and across the plateau towards Arnuva (26 km into the race) and the start of the second climb (Grand col Ferret at 2537 m). The views were astonishing as the weather was crystal clear.
Still some queuing up Ferret but I steadily passed people, especially in the support stations were athletes must have taken it easy. I sat down only two times at the support stations during the whole race. Time went by quickly and I felt great. All of a sudden I’d been on the move for 10-11 hours and was about half-way into the race and had to turn on my head lamp. Night brought new sensations and I liked how the temperature sank so that I didn’t sweat any longer. Actually, the only spare clothes I used were the hat and my buff.
Halfway up the first of three nightly climbs, at Champex-Lac, I had passed quite a lot of people at position 644. The night is mostly a blur of fragments of memories and sensations but I remember I felt strong in Trient at 71 km thinking less than a “Lidingöloppet” to go and I feel fine, I will make this! It is hard to remember details when you’re tired and it’s dark.
I had to dig rather deep to keep the pace of a group of quite strong climbers up towards Catogne at 76 km and felt a bit sore on the top, especially in the technical parts as stones and roots had started to take its toll on my feet. From now on I used the poles not only uphill but also downhill to dampen the impacts on joints and feet with my shoulders and arms. Worked great but I was passed by quite a lot of people on the descents. Another strong memory from the night is the dark contours of mountains and trails of light on them. There was no hiding of how far you had to go… Was relieved at a couple of times though, when the light I thought was a runner ahead of me actually stood still and in fact was a star. I also had a cow incident at one of the ascents. A herd were gracing right next to or on the track we used. Quite scary to all of a sudden meet half a ton of meat with horns standing in your way as you make your torch lighten up the path ahead.
The last descent to Chamonix from La Flégere at 92 km took almost 90 minutes and felt even longer. It was a fantastic feeling to get away from the rough terrain downhill and be able to start to run on the paved roads into the village. For being 6 o’clock on a Saturday morning, surprisingly many people were standing along the road sheering! Again, I remembered to let the wonderful feeling of the last minutes of the race grab hold of me. Next time I do a major race I will walk, and not sprint as I usually do, the last bit and perhaps try to remember to bring out my camera as well to document those magical minutes.
To conclude: my goal was to finish in 26 hours, the maximum allowed time, but thought that if I’m not injured I should perhaps be able to do it in 18-20 hours. It took 20 hours 40 minutes. By far the longest time I have ever competed. I had no idea of my position during the race except that I started out among the last 10% or so and that I steadily passed people. I was delighted, proud and surprised when Anders told me that I was number 359 to reach the finish line, apparently passing ~1200 runners during the race. Compared to other runners I was strong in non-technical terrain uphill or on the flat but quite bad on the descents, especially the three last ones. The whole UTMB experience has been amazing and above expectations! To spend time along the end of the course in Chamonix and see CCC, UTMB and PTL finishers has made a strong impression on me!
For the very interested
Equipment at start:
Inov8 X-talon 212, Inov8 gaiters, long compression socks, short tights, t-shirt, cycling gloves (blister prevention), Black Diamond Ultra distance poles, wisor. Salomon S-lab skin 12, containing: 1.5 litre camelback plus 2+dl soft flask; Icebreaker long-sleeved shirt; Adidas light-weight wind jacket; spare socks and smallclothes; 3/4-tights, Bonatti pants, Salomon GoreTex active shell, Buff, warm hat and Gore Windstopper gloves (should have been water-proof so happy they didn’t check that); cup and bandage; survival blanket; passport; Silva X-trail headlamp and a spare torch with extra batteries; mobile phone and energy as below. Approximate weight of back pack: 5.5 kg including water.
Carried 10 Enervit gels and 10 Enervit Liquid and ate about one per hour but as one support station, cannot remember which one but among the first, offered bars and gels to go, I ate more of my energy during the day. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any more support stations with energy in wrappings. So I ended up eating more of the provided food in the stations the second half of the course, especially cheese, salami and hot soup. I also had a “Spagetti Bolognese” at Champex-Lac station that tasted wonderfully. Since it was quite warm during the day I ate 1-2 Hammer Endurolyte tablets per hour during the day and 0-1 during the night (20 in total). I drank only water on the run and other liquids such as coke, sports drinks and coffea at the aid stations.
En sannerligen mäktig racereport från en sannerligen mäktig ultrapuppy!