Well, if you follow racing news, you'll know that this year's UTMB race was a little funky. We had loads of rain the morning of the race but by mid afternoon, it had cleared up. And just as we started the race at 6.30 pm it was sprinkling lightly. The start of the race was amazing - I've never experienced anything like it before. The streets of Chamonix were lined with hundreds and hundreds of people, all cheering and clapping. It felt like we were part of a massive celebration. It took me all my strength not to cry; I know that might sound a bit pathetic, but it felt very emotional and we were only just leaving the starting line!!
Me with female winner, Lizzie Hawker (UK).
I was having a great run. It was incredible to see that people were still lining the streets to cheer us on, even though we had already left Chamonix behind. It started to pour with rain again but at least it was warm and it added to the fun - I felt like a kid sloshing my way through the mud and puddles! After leaving the valley floor, we started to climb up and all I could see were hundreds of runners above me and hundreds of runners below me - it was a fascinating sight. I felt like I was part of a human train. It was lovely and quiet too; the Europeans don't seem to say much when they're racing! And everything seemed to flow well - I was expecting some pushing and shoving what with so many people being on the trail but everyone was very gentile and polite about passing each other.
Saint Gervais was at the 21 km mark and this is where the first main aid station was located. I was planning on stopping here to refill my water and re-adjust my clothing. I can't tell you how surprised I was when I stepped into the aid area and was told that the race was cancelled. I was only just starting to warm up! However, I didn't feel any emotion as such; no anger or disappointment. I think most of us were still trying to wrap our heads round the fact that it was finished. As in finito. Finished. Cancelled. No more race. I rang my friends who were ahead of me and we quickly found each other and they had already arranged for another friend to pick us up and take us to Les Contamines which was 10 km up the road. As we neared the village, we could see that some runners were still running but they were soon stopped by the volunteers and told that it was over. It's amazing how quickly the organizers had reacted because there were already lots of buses pulling in to take people back to Chamonix. I think most runners were in shock.
Yannick, Joel and myself met up with friends in the local pub and had some hot chocolate. None of us really said very much as there wasn't really anything we could do except for go home to bed (it was already gone 10 pm). And so we called it a night. I spent the next couple of hours sitting on my bed writing notes about the race start and the terrain (I know I'm a nerd!) but I figured it would be handy for next year.
After 4 hours of sleep, I was woken up by knocking on the door. Joel had received a text message to say that the race was back on but we had to leave immediately to catch the bus into Courmayer (Italy) so he came to see if I was wanting to go. Heck yes! Are you kidding? I was there to run and being able to run another 98 km of this course was music to my ears. So after throwing together my gear, we headed out.