Harrogate Harrier @ Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB)

August 29, 2014

Martyn crosses the UTMB finish line in Chamonix

105 miles done! Martyn crosses the UTMB finish line in Chamonix (click to enlarge)

The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) is a 105-mile trail event that starts in the mountain resort of Chamonix and follows an incredibly arduous route around the Mont-Blanc massif, taking in no less than 31,800ft of vertical ascent and crossing the frontiers of France, Italy and Switzerland.  It is one of the toughest and most over-subscribed endurance events in the world, attracting entrants from all corners of the globe; for this reason potential entrants have to amass qualifying points in order to apply for a place, and even then you only have a one in seven chance of being selected in the ensuing ballot!

At the Courmayeur CP, Italy.

At the Courmayeur CP, Italy.

Martyn Price amassed sufficient qualifying points from his successful Bob Graham Round in 2012  and other ultra-distance events in 2013, he was then fortunate enough to be selected for the 2014 race – the first club member to compete in the UTMB – and at 5.30pm on Friday 29th August set off on what was to become a momentous experience. The first five hours were marred by heavy rain, making the earlier part of the race treacherously slippy and hard to negotiate – the initial climb up the infamous Col du Bonhomme taking over three hours and in thick, glutinous and churning mud!  The climbs (and by definition, the descents) in the UTMB are huge, the cols typically rising to well over 8,000ft .  Martyn steadily progressed through the field, making up over 700 places during the course of the race and overcoming severe physical discomfort, to say nothing of the fabled UTMB “sleep monsters” (hallucinations) due to sleep depravation and low blood sugar. 

Despite an elongated stop at the Trient checkpoint for medical care (feet) and a truly agonised final descent from La Tete aux Vents to La Flegere and down to Chamonix, Martyn finished the race in 41:19:39, placing him 811th overall and and 109th in his age category – not bad from an international starting field of 2,400 runners, but  just 1,580 finishers!

For more info about the UTMB, please visit the event website or Martyn’s “The Road to Chamonix is Long” blog.

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