Coming Up

Club run
Sportsman
Wed 28th Feb
6:30pm
Warts run
Odin Mine
Wed 28th Feb
6:45pm
Other runs
Hoppits Hill
Sun 25th Feb
11:30am
Hope Winter
Sun 25th Feb
11:00am
Winter Mondays Training
Mon 26th Feb
6:40pm

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From the Photos page

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Debbie's report of the Tour du Mont Blanc - updated



Whist in Chamonix last year we saw all these runners hobbling into town to the most amazing reception from the crowds. On further inspection we discovered they were finishing the Tour du Mont-Blanc Ultra-Trail race. 158km, 8500m and passing through France, Italy and Switzerland. Just seeing the atmosphere at the finish, Karen and I were inspired to enter for next years. More by luck then any planning we got an entry- apparently they were full within days.
So a year later saw us battling with 2500 others to cross the start line. Not the place to start worrying about how much or little training we had done. How do you train for 158km with a wee bit of up and down? Everyone had there advice and theories. In the end I think neither did that much specific training – just did what we enjoy most and ran as much as possible. Although I do long adventure races I had never run continuously for more than 48 mile before. Karen’s longest race was 25 miles.
As we ran down the main street of Chamonix the trick was to avoid being stabbed by walking poles. The streets were lined with people – the atmosphere was excellent and carried you along. We started at 7.00pm at night so for the first half all the villages were out partying as the runners passed through. They had huge cow bells and ‘high- fived’ everyone as they passed. It was amazing and made you feel part of something special.
So we ran on into the night with head torches out. It was a lovely starry night with the mountains glowing red as the sun set. As I descended into Italy the sun was rising behind the mountains, glowing yellow this time. The sunrise re-energised you and kept the sprits up.
Surprisingly my legs were feeling fine and my feet were thankfully blister free. However my stomach was not so happy. From about 8 hours in I was struggling to keep any food down and was losing energy rapidly. At points I just felt like giving up and if I was at a checkpoint at the time would have quite happily crawled into the retirement bus back to Chamonix. My lowest point was coming into Arnuva at 88km. As I entered the checkpoint to my surprise Hilary and Phil – friends who had just come to watch the race- were there waiting for me. They were fantastic and picked up my sprits no end. They would not let me give in - up to that point I was obsessed with completing the event in a certain time- but they made me realise the challenge was to cross the finish line regardless of the time.
So it was a case of putting one foot in front of the other and trying to get any food in to get some energy. Although there are 2500 competitors in the race- it can be quite lonely at times: everyone speaks a different language and sign language is difficult when all your energy is taken with slogging over the next col.
At 8.00pm I reached Champex 117km- only a marathon to go- nearly there! I decided to have a massage. Since the start I had a slight pain in my calf- so I asked them to be careful of it. “I’ll get a doctor to look at that.” The doctor prodded and poked it and told me I must retire as I have a stress fracture. I knew I hadn’t and at that stage nothing would make me retire- I was going to make that finish line even if I was crawling. So the doctor got a second doctor who promptly fetched a physio. The physio fetched the head physio- so there they all stood prodding and poking my leg. In the end they concluded I had inflammation of the muscle round the bone. “It will take months to recover and you won’t be able to run”. Quite amazingly after that it gave me very little problem-think I just blanked it from my mind.
The second night was long and I was moving slowly. It has started to rain quite heavily. Hilary and Phil continued to meet me a checkpoints and looked after me so well. The finish was getting closer and closer and more a reality.
Chamonix was suddenly within reach- although the last 5km were cruel the route descended down to the river and then rose you up and up back on the side of the valley. Every time you thought you had done the final climb another small slope appeared. But eventually you could hear the crowds and cheering. Phil met me on the edge of Chamonix- and we sprinted -well it felt like it- into the finish. Hilary was there and it was quite an emotionally moment. I was so proud to have crossed the finish line. 8.08am- 37hours later.
Karen was running far faster than me and as I struggled into checkpoints I got report Karen had skipped through. She was in 4th place a lot of the way. At 117km her old knee and joint injuries prevented her from continuing.
Thanks you all for you support and sponsorship, I raised £250 for Challenge Cancer Through Adventure. Pam Wilkinson of Sheffield won the Timex watch donated by Accelerate Lifestyle ltd, www.accelerateuk.com A big thanks to Hilary and Phil for all their support at the event.