UTMB Week in Chamonix

The first race of 5 major races on UTMB week started yesterday.  We had our packed lunch yesterday at the Chamonix Centre and the place is just filled with so much energy!

Chamonix Centre

For the first time, we worked out at the gym for 2 hours.  It wasn’t hard to get 2 hours in starting with a full body stretch, 1000m row to warm-up, practicing hang power cleans, deadlifts, upper body work with cables and barbells, 3X1 min of 3 cycles/sets of core exercises, cool down shadow boxing and then a full body stretch.  It felt amazing leaving the gym with so much accomplished and the body feeling strong.  Today, I am a bit sore in many places…good stuff!

UTMB week is so much fun and this is our 3rd summer spectating such an incredible event.  Just walking around the village or hiking along the trails seeing all trail runners kitted out is exciting.  There are thousands of people racing 5 races in one week.  The mother of all the races is the last race to start, UTMB’s 100m around Mont Blanc.  If you’ve hiked around Mont Blanc, you get the idea of what the racers will cover.  The expo or the booths set-up with trail running vendors, races around the world and anything related to trail running is really cool to check out.  You don’t have to be a runner to get into it, even families and friends supporting the runners enjoy a fun filled week.

We woke up to this peach colored sunrise and today is exactly 2 weeks before we leave the French Alps to head to Ladakh, another mountainous place of beauty.  Time dwindles down so fast and we already look forward to coming back to the French Alps next year.

Everything will change once we are in Leh.  The biggest change is sleeping at high altitude.  The food is also going to be very different however, I am yearning everyday for the food of Leh.  Masala tea, momos, Ladkhi bread, Kashmiri curries and the fresh spinach sold at the walking street in the morning.  The fresh raw milk sold at the market by women in their beautiful red robes is also something I look forward to.

The last trip in 2015 to Ladakh was amazing and that was during the summer months.  This time, we will be in Ladakh more of end of summer beginning Autumn season so we don’t know what to expect.  It could be cold, it could be warm but I’ve been told that it is a beautiful time.  Leh can get very very cold!

Going back to the UTMB races, there are so many options on where to watch the races.  UTMB race itself is lined up with the biggest names in ultra running this year both for men and women.  Our apartment balcony is a great place to watch racers come by before they run up the first climb Col de Voza.  The weather forecast is calling for rain in the next three days but not sure how much or how cold it could get.  Rain and storm in the mountains during a race is a game changer and it makes it much more challenging for all racers.   This is where real mountain runners with vast experiences of weather changes can really shine.  That’s how I describe European trail runners, they are more mountain runners.  Tough during bad weather because that is how it is here in the French Alps.  The runners in Europe are more about dealing with the mountains not really numbers…it reminds me of trekking in the Himalayas of Nepal the first time, it’s time on the mountains not distance.  A lot of things can happen in the mountains…unexpected changes usually.   It’s always so inspiring to watch finishers.  Those who battle the elements and never give up until the end no matter what where they are in the race…those who go after those cut-off times and make it!

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