Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The short route of Ultra Trail Du Mont-Blanc: CCC race

So, we are back from vacation and the first post reflecting on the past two weeks is dedicated to the CCC race  (Courmayeur, Champex, Chamonix).
The report is going to be long, thus read on if you wish...

Short Summary from the Live Trail UTMB:

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CCC®6109 - Tatiana SURAZHSKY
CCC : perturbation orageuse. Parcours modifié : montée directe à Bertone. Champex-Chamonix, parcours de repli évitant Bovine, Catogne, Tete aux Vents. 93km, 5100mD
CCC : important storm. Change track: directly to Bertone. Champex-Chamonix, alternative route avoiding Bovine, Catogne, Tete aux Vents. 93km, 5100mD
Classement actuel :
par catégorie :
Dernier point :
Temps de course :
S-06:30 Chamonix
Catégorie :SE F (23 à 39 ans)
Club :
Nationalité :Israël
Ville :20692 YOKNEAM
(indicatifs et non exhaustifs) :
Tableau des passages
PtsHeure pass.Tps courseClasst.
Refuge BertoneV-11:2101:09:31938
Refuge BonattiV-12:3902:27:341180
Grand Col FerretV-15:0204:50:231254
La FoulyV-16:38
Les JeursS-00:4714:34:53792
Les TinesS-05:2119:09:01890

I arrived to Chamonix with Vitaly and Michael on August 22 and got a very warm welcome at a small hotel Vallee Blanche located on the river bank. The weather was really good during few days before the race so we enjoyed our stay and had few beautiful walks.

On the race day I got to the bus to Courmayeur and arrived to the starting line an hour before the race start. This year the start was scheduled in 3 waves: 10:00, 10:10 (my start) and 10:20 to spread runners at earlier stages, which did not help a lot: we were still stuck in a long queue on the first ascend.
One of the things that was funny before the start was the queue to the toilets: the first time there was no queue to the ladies while 100 meter line waited for the gents room... 

Another surprise was the announcement from the management of the race that due to the changing weather the route was changed and we were not going to visit several peaks on the way. Bovine was inaccessible and the route went down to Martigny and then up back to Trient. According to race info it should have been shortened to 93km with 5100m elevation gain, but my garmin showed that it was closer to 95km and a bit more elevation change... Whatever it was, it was the only option, so I tried just to enjoy what I get ;-)

The first part was shortened and instead of going to Tete de la Tronche we went straight to refuge Bertone. This was the simplified part and it shortened the route until refuge Bertone to ~5km. Then the route was identical to the original and I enjoyed the views and good warm weather until the Champex Food station.
The "traffic jams" disappeared after the second peak (Grand Col Ferret) and I went on with easy running downhill and hiking the uphills. Most of the route is breathtaking: beautiful single trails with mountain views.

Vitaly and Michael spent half of the day in Champex walking around the lake and waiting for me to get there. I've called Vitaly (yes, I used every piece of the obligatory equipment excluding the emergency: blanket, whistle and tape) ~20 min before getting to aid station and was happy to see my family before going into the night part. They had plenty of clothes/food with them which I did not need (then!) but it was nice having a break (although longer than I should have had) before going on. 

Thus I put on an additional long sleeve shirt, jacket and said good bye to Michael & Vitaly. The original route was supposed to go uphill soon but the alternative lead us down... and more down and still down until we reached Martigny at ~470m sea level (more than 1000 elevation loss from Champex)...
It started raining, but still was rather warm. I knew that the new route went back to Trient aid station, which is at ~1300m sea level, but we got up to 1530m (Garmin data), so had gained ~1000m elevation in ~5km.

By the time I got to Trient it got colder, and the wind got stronger. I also managed to find myself without water during the uphill but the was a very nice couple filling cups with water for runners on the way and the lady helped me to fill my pack and offered sugar

When I realized that I went through the town I just put on my waterproof trousers (I was wet and cold to the bone, barely feeling my hands and feet) and tried to move faster to stay warm. It worked to some degree: I felt fine when I moved faster, but thanks to fading light I had to take care and could not move as fast as I wished.

Well, I thought to myself, as soon as I get to Vallocrine, I would fix everything...  I got there fine, still feeling strong, but as soon as stopped I began shivering and not just shivering... I could barely stand up, there was no chance of changing batteries... the dexterity required for this action was far beyond what I could managed.
I tried everything I could think of: drinking three cups of hot soup + two cups of tea + eating + drying "some" clothes + warming up near the heaters... Nothing worked... it did not get better, so after wasting 45 min I just decided the last thing: to start moving. I left the aid station and moved on in the weak light of the headlamp with unchanged batteries. Then I swapped to the second (also much weaker) headlamp fearing to stay in the dark.

I tried to move as fast as I could considering the low visibility and soon felt better. The last part was almost uneventful, with few highlights:

  • The rain stopped
  • I felt that I had two blisters on my left foot from ~30km but they were not too bad till the last 5km: one of them popped and I had sharp pain on my toe, when I got my shoe off and saw that it's just a blister and not a detached nail (or toe ;-)) I put the plaster on and continued at even slower pace;
  • I got to the finish line with the sunrise and found Michael & Vitaly waiting for me there!

I used Black Diamond Ultra Z-poles, loved them, although have heard that several people had broken them on the descents... I guess either I weight less, or I were just lucky...

Overall I loved the experience and the organization of the race was great! Amazing support along the route from the families living in the area, I even had a home made cake from one lady in Martigny! I wish I could thank every one who was there on the route and of course my family for being there!

One can find an interesting interview with Adam Cambell (2nd place at CCC) at IRunFar and of course the winner, Kilian Jornet.


Lisa B said...

Well done! Thanks for posting a report. I've been cold like that too, unable to change batteries. The only possible solution sometimes is to get moving. And you did, and you finished. Congratulations!

PS - Love my z-poles too. :)

Jonnifer said...

Congratulations! Nice accomplishment. I certainly could share your experience having run similar sections of the course for UTMB (which reminds me to post my RR as well).

Enjoy your downtime. Cheers.

Tatiana said...

Thanks Lisa, yes movement is the solution! but although I wasted time I left well fueled ;-)

Thanks Jon and waiting for your RR!