|Campsite at Le Mer de Glace|
|Inov8 Group Run|
|Enjoying lunch after picking up race Bib|
|Thanks to Elevationtat|
Earlier in the week I had messaged the guy in Colorado who designs race profile tattoos called elevationtat and asked if I could get one for UTMB. He told me that either Jason Schlarb or Mike Foote would have then so I messaged Jason that morning and asked if I could get one from him. He of course said no problem and so after getting ready we all drove to the next town over to get the tattoo. When we arrived at the hotel we were greated by his lovely wife and son. After chitchatting for a couple minutes we were on our way to Chamonix, passing UTMBer hitchhikers trying to catch a ride to the start of the race. We had a full carload so all we could do is drive past them.
|Ready to go!|
The first several kilometers were easy, it was pretty flat and on a paved trail. It was still raining as the hours went by. People were slipping and falling every couple minutes on the muddy, sloshy ground. I thought it was pretty funny at times because as we were coming down a hill, that people ski down in the winter, runners were falling every couple minutes. I almost fell several times but I used my poles to catch me, I would laugh a little and then someone else would fall, then I would kinda laugh again.
The hours in the evening went by pretty quickly and right as darkness came I arrived at Saint Gervais checkpoint. I quickly filled up my pack with water, grabbed a banana and was on my way. As I was running out of the checkpoint I bumped into a man wearing a blue sweatshirt that was facing away from me. As he turned around and I looked up, I realized that I had bumped into Seb Chaigneau an elite runner for The North Face. When our eyes met, all I could say was "Oh, hi" and I'm sure the look on my face said it all because everyone, including Seb just started laughing. It was pretty funny and I thought about it for several kilometers.
|Refuge of Bonhomme, Italy|
The night hours went on and so did the climbs. After leaving Les Contamines, we climbed and climbed and climbed. The climbs seemed to be never-ending but I kind of expected that. I guess I'm a pretty decent climber. Once, I start I don't stop for breaks and I can usually pass people on the way up. I just keep the same pace, slow and steady. I remember reaching a checkpoint where people were surrounding a bonfire, drying their clothes and keeping warm. I believe this checkpoint was the refuge of Bonhomme. I didn't stay long, just filled up my pack, drank some soup and was back on my way. We climbed all night long. As morning was approaching I was starting to feel the effects of the elevation. I had a headache that wouldn't go away and I felt as if I needed to puke a couple times. since I didn't have much in my stomach all I could do was dry heave. But, after a couple sessions of those, I started to feel a little better.
My headlamp started to die about 1 hour before daybreak so I had to replace the lithium battery with some triple A's. As, I was resting my pack on a rock, fumbling to get the batteries in correctly, I heard my name. I looked up to see an Icelandic guy named Barke that we had met several days earlier from Norway. He asked how I was doing and I told him good other than my headlamp dying. He waited for me to finish putting the batteries in and then we headed down the mountain together. Thankfully, he was there because my headlamp was very weak even with the new batteries and was putting off very little light. He let me lead the way so that he could share his light and I was very grateful. At the next checkpoint, I sat down to pull out my other headlamp, filled up my pack and drank some warm chicken noodle soup. I didn't see Barke around so I just headed back out on my own. The next portion was more climbing but it was amazing because as I reached the top of the mountain the sun was rising and the Mont Blanc massif was to the left of me. It was enormous and beautiful. I had to stop for a second and take in the moment.
|Saturday Daybreak in the Italian Alps|
As I descended down the mountain I was anxious to get to the next checkpoint that I could have assistance at which was Courmayeur. I new my crew would be there waiting for me and I was really excited to see them and to change my shoes which were wet from it raining all night long. As I ran in, I saw Owen, Bj and Tyler...they cheered me on and told me that Brittany was inside waiting on me. I walked in to the sport center and sat on the cold concrete floor. Brittany was great and started getting me all squared away. She had me change my shirt, my socks and shoes. My legs were a bit shaky from the long 8+ km descent we had just made so I had to keep moving. I told Brittany that I had dry heaved a couple times but that I felt pretty good now. She replaced my gels with new ones and had my pack filled up with water and once again I was on my way, up once again.
|In the Swiss Alps|
The hours that night slipped on by. I met my crew at Trient where Brittany, Ryan and Bj helped me get my pack in order. As I left this checkpoint and started heading up the mountain once again, I had to stop because I felt as if I were going to throw up again. So, I stepped out of the line of runners onto a side path that had a fallen tree laying down beside a tree that was still upright. As I bent over to puke someone asked me if I was alright. I told them I was and thanked them. But all of a sudden I felt urge to pee so I turned off my headlamp, ducked behind the upright tree and pulled down my pants to pee. But, as soon as I squatted, I also felt like I had to poop. I didn't feel like I could wait so I just went. I could see runners power hiking up the hill only 4 feet away from me and I was hoping they wouldn't look my way. And because this was not planned I hadn't prepared and gotten toilet paper ready which meant I didn't have anything to use to wipe with. I also knew I had ran out of TP and forgot to grab more at the last checkpoint so I was trying to think if I had anything I could use in my pack. After a couple seconds I couldn't think of anything to use. I also couldn't see very well because I turned my headlamp off so as to not bring attention to myself. I was in a dilemma. I didn't want to turn my headlamp on and have everyone shine their light on me and I knew I didn't have any TP with me because I had ran out. So, what was I to do?!?! Use a leaf or something, right? I mean, that's the only thing I could think of and I didn't want to waste any more time trying to figure it out so I quickly turned on my headlamp to grab something to use and the only thing I could see was a pinecone. That's right, a pinecone. It was a small slender one that was kinda soft from the rain so it would have to do. Plus, as soon as I grabbed it, I turned off my headlamp so I was committed. My legs were hurting and I needed to get back out on the trail so I just held it on one end and wiped. I know, it's pretty gross and as soon as I got to the next checkpoint I used the appropriate material. But, its all I could do at the time. Yep, I used a pinecone to wipe my butt!
|Tëte aux vents|
|UTMB Finish 41:00:40|
I want to thank these very special people: Bj Howell, Owen Olsen, Brittany Wheat, Tyler Fulling, Ryan Schweitzer, Sherene Schweitzer and Nathan Schwitzer. I couldn't have done it without you! Thank you so much :) Now, I owe each of you and promise to crew for you when the time comes.
It was also great running into running friends. Until next race!
Stats about the UTMB 2014 race:
Distance: 168km or 103 miles
Positive Vertical Gain: 9600 meters or 31,496 feet
Number of runners who started: 2434 of those there were 200 women
Number of runners who finished: 1578 of those were 114 women
Total number of runners who abandoned the race: 856