So I “ran” Mont-Blanc. I didn’t finish unfortunately. I only got 160km of the 170km. I missed a 10km run downhill.
Now I quote “run” because it has come to my attention that there isn’t much running in this race. If I was giving advice to someone doing it, I would tell them to practice climbing, going up stairs, or just continually lifting yourself. The reason this race takes 46 hours, is that you can’t run it. You are just doing a very fast hike. The only running I really did was down mountains.
I was lucky that it was a full moon, because I could see the landscape at night. And that is when you are most prone to enjoying the scenery, because it was too hot during the day. You’re not enjoying anything then.
I thought the batteries in my headlamp were fresh. (They weren’t.) I didn’t notice because the moon was bright, and there were a lot of people with really bright headlamps. I only clued in when I was running down a long mountain. My first thought was that my headlamp had burned out lights, or was just old, because there were fresh batteries in it. Fortunately, the race requires a backup light, and that illuminated the darkness. Even better, when I got to the town at the bottom, Petzl (the headlamp manufacturer) was giving out free batteries. And testing the old ones. Mine failed.
By the time night was ending and I was crossing into Italy, I was feeling down. My friend, Mike, had often given advice that you always feel better in the day. And that was true. Once it was light out, I felt good enough to keep up my spirits. Until I got to Courmayeur in Italy. They had 4km in short switchbacks which went down 750 meters. By the time I got there, my quads were shredded. Of course you have to climb up another mountain soon after. I’ve found if you keep doing the same thing, your quads can adapt, but when you keep going up and down, you have nothing but pain.
In Courmayeur, there was the major transition. This is where you can pick up your bag that you deposited earlier. It felt like a gong show though. I got my bag easily enough but there wasn’t any support for using it. This is where I wished I had had a support person. Someone who could have fetched things, or just gotten things out of the bag.
I wish I could have said “I crossed the mountains into Switzerland under cover of night, just ahead of the Germans.” But I couldn’t wait until night. Also, I’m not sure there were any Germans behind me.
The second night was bad for me. One mountain was very treacherous. There really wasn’t a path up, and it was mostly climbing over boulders. When I got above the tree line, I did not feel good. I had caught a 20 minute nap in Lac de Champax, but I was feeling bad. I think I was delerious. I really started thinking I needed to drop out. I kept going, slowly, to an aid station. There I took another nap. I requested 20 minutes, but I think they only gave me 15. I just wanted to get to the end of the section. Then I decided to throw up, because that usually makes me feel better. (For the record, not anorexic.) and it helped. Maybe the altitude was getting to me.
I kept going, and was doing okay. Always staying between half and hour and an hour ahead of the cut offs. Daylight helped.
On the second last leg, it was up to Le Flegere. That was a 800 meter mountain/cliff that was directly in the sun. I think it was +33°. I was mugging people for their water, and frequently was out. That was not a healthy combination. I was trying to make a balance between not over-exerting myself, and trying to make the cut-off. I got to the top, and had hoped they had put an aid station there. No. It was still a few kilometers away. I was not sure about my timing, and what exactly the cutoff was, so I was forcing myself to run in the heat.
Then some random bystanders insisted I stop. I was “running” like I was drunk. They put me in the shade and gave me water. I eventually got well enough that they walked me to the aid station, stopping once to recover again, and taking a truck when I got to the road. The rest of the course was all downhill. Maybe if I hadn’t been pushing so hard I could have made it.
I think it was hard for all Canadians because I met another Edmontonian who was also pulled, due to dehydration
Last night I was saying I was okay with not finishing. All I missed was the finishers jacket and being able to run through the cheering crowd. And I certainly proved myself. I’ve essentially covered the entire course. The part I missed, I walked the last time I was here. Today though I’m feeling a bit more down. I would like to be able to say I finished with no conditions, and for my friends to see it happen.
When I got back to the centre, I went to the medics. Blood was fine. Pressure was fine. Temperature was 38°. They put me in a cooling tent for awhile. I then stayed. In Chamonix for awhile talking to another Canadian, and then waiting for the racer’s meal. Unfortunately it kept me out well past the bus system.