Our ambassador Alice Morrison, is a highly experienced adventurer and travel blogger. Alice has featured her latest blog on one of the world’s best ultra marathons the Mount Blanc Marathon. The below will give you everything you need to know about taking on this giant.
Anyone who runs 43km deserves a big round of applause and a large cake or large beer or both, depending on what they fancy. Anyone who runs the Mont Blanc Marathon instantly gets hero status and never-ending acclaim. It is a beast, a beautiful beast, but nevertheless a beast and absolutely one for the bucket list.
I was never a runner, in fact I would go so far as to say I hated running. But, then, a friend of mine persuaded me to sign up for a massive challenge – the Marathon des Sables. I knew I would have to give it everything to get the job done. So, I did and I did it. One of the greatest moments of my life was seeing that finishing line! Taking on something so difficult, is life-changing. For me, it led to me living full time in Morocco and pursuing my dreams of adventuring and writing. For you, it will be something different, but I can guarantee that taking on this level of challenge, WILL change you for the better and that is one of the reasons I highly recommend signing up for the Mont Blanc Marathon.
The marathon takes place on the 1st July and like all the great events, it sold out as soon as entry was open online. You can still get a place through Sports Tours International who are offering guaranteed entry into the 42km, Cross (23km), 90km and the Vertical KM events and will also take care of all the accommodation and transfer details for you, so you can concentrate on the race.
Why should I sign up?
‘It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.’ Edmund Hillary
This is a truly iconic marathon and one that will test any runner, but is also possible for any runner. Just looking at that profile will tell you why you should sign up, you will force your body up some serious vertical kilometerage and on to triumph. The start line is in Chamonix (1035m) and the race begins with a relatively easy climb through the valley and up to Argentière (1250m). Things stay relaxed-ish until Allorcine (1260m), nestled at the bottom of a green valley close to Switzerland. Then begins the climb towards Col des Posettes (1997m). At the Pass des Posettes, there’s a feed station, which you will be thanking God and all his Angels for by the time you reach it. Once you’ve caught your breath and stuffed yourself with sweet energy snacks it is time for the last push to the highest point at the Aiguillette des Posettes (2201m) where you are rewarded for your efforts with a fantastic panorama of the Mont-Blanc massif.
A quad-burning and treacherous descent follows which will keep you on your toes for that whole section, often quite literally, and then it is two more sharp, pokey ascents and a final draft down to the finish line.
There is no doubt that taking on this kind of challenge is going to test you to your physical and mental limits. Your training for the event will have to be on point, and this is definitely one where you should also keep a vigilant eye on how you are going to fuel yourself during the race as the extreme effort can mean that your normal strategies need to be tweaked.
In the mountains, competition against others can become secondary to your struggle against nature. One thing that every runner who does this race has found is the extraordinary spirit of camaraderie. The field is always international with French, Spanish and Italian runners performing strongly but everyone is in it together and it is that feeling of comradeship that dominates.
You are, without a doubt, going to suffer during this magnificent race but you will also see some of the most beautiful views on the planet. The Mont-Blanc massif towers over the course, with its iconic dome-shaped peak and the country will be in its full summer glory. The weather, of course, can be changeable and you will have to carry enough clothes to cope with any changes, but the chances are good that there will be blue skies above, which always makes everything feel better.
Go on, you know you can!
Mont-Blanc is the playground of the Gods, well, definitely the running Gods. This is where Kilian Jornet rocketed to fame after winning the biggest event of ultra running, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. If you do the race, you can confidently take your place alongside those others who have conquered the trail, and that is definitely something to aim for.
With six full months of training ahead, there is plenty of time to get yourself to peak fitness in time for summer glory. And to end with the words of someone who really understands this area, Kilian:
“The secret isn’t in your legs, but in your strength of mind. You need to go for a run when it is raining, windy, and snowing, when lightning sets trees on fire as you pass them, when snowflakes or hailstones strike your legs and body in the storm and make you weep, and in order to keep running, you have to wipe away the tears to see the stones, walls, or sky.”
The 2018 Marathon du Mont Blanc takes place on Sunday 1 July. Sports Tours International offers guaranteed entry into the 42km, Cross (23km), 90km and the Vertical KM events with travel packages that include airport transfers, Chamonix centre hotel stays and staff support. Visit the website or call 0161 250 9979 to book.