After over a year of training runs (including twelve 5k park runs, a 10k round a race horse track, coastal half marathon, soggy city marathon and baking trail marathon) Gary and I found ourselves counting down from ten at the top of our voices (in French) in the centre of Chamonix surrounded by over 2,000 other nutters to the tune of ‘We Will Rock You’…it was time to face the Alps!
We’d arrived four days previously to acclimatise to the weather and inclines, renting a small apartment in the South of town with an amazing view of Mont Blanc [if you took your life in your hands by sitting on the window ledge and peering over the rooftop]. Chamonix, nestled in the Chamonix valley, is a Mecca for all things outdoors where you are continuously tripping over trail runners, mountain bikers, trekkers, parasailers, climbers and ice axe wielding mountaineers. With all the gear shops available you could arrive with nothing and fully kit out any form of Alpine expedition in under an hour; though unfortunately no Rohan (may I be first to volunteer should head office be thinking of opening a store there). The biggest disappointment was that, having arrived to run a marathon, it makes good sense to rest on the preceding days forgoing any adventurous ideas which popped into mind. However we did go for a short yomp up the mountainside on the first day to get used to the inclines, hone technique and enjoy the scenery.
The next few days were taken up in final kit prep and acquisition; I must admit I did have a wish list as, sods law, half my gear had developed faults or been worn out in the previous two weeks so was in search for a new race pack, replacement hydration bladder valve and race cap (it’s good to have an excuse to kit shop). I’d already bought a new pair of running shoes the week before in the form of some Merrell Trail Gloves completing my transition to minimalist running (the Inov-8’s which had given fantastic service up until then had started to shed their lugs from wear). The kit I lined up in at 7am on Sunday morning was as follows:
Merrell Trail Gloves
Hilly double layered running socks
Ronhill running shorts
Rohan Ultra Silver Trunks
Quechua s/s merino 150 tee (I did have my Ultra Silver Tee which I was planning on wearing but the weather report changed from beautiful hot sun to thunder storms so seeing as how well my Rohan 150 performed in Milton Keynes I decided to aquire a s/s merino for the day and was mighty glad of it!)
Salomon race cap
Salomon XT Wings 10+3 Vest (a brilliant bag, the stretchy chest rig spreads the weight much better than straps making it more comfortable to run with)
‘Space Blanket’ (mandatory)
Source wide mouth 2 litre hydration bladder (mandatory 500ml water carrier)
Rohan Windshadow Jacket
Assorted gels, energy blocks & bars (High 5 are my preferred as they are more hydrating than most)
Small first aid kit
Water-resistant sports sun block
Anti-chafing gel (a marathon runners best friend)
Mont-Blanc marathon plastic cup (best free race gift yet! Instantly gets rid of the mounds of plastic cups discarded at water stations…required for the ‘finishers beer’!)
With kit all sorted and packed we had a couple of days to kill filling up on carbs and French pastries whilst watching the lead up events. These were televised on a big screen in the town centre where you could sit and sip coffee whilst watching the feats of endurance knowing ours was just around the corner. The most entertaining was the KM Vertical, a 3.8km course from the centre of town ascending 1000m to the Planpraz Telecabine. Won by ultra-running legend Kilian Jornet! In 36.07 minutes! As a warm up for the marathon in two days time! We were quite happy weight training with glasses of beer at the pre-race carb fuelling pasta party.
Next post, the race… Matt – Rohan Winchester
Part 2 - The Road to Mont Blanc
Part 1 - Fancy A Run