Saturday, September 20, 2014

UTMB 161.5km

Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc 2014

I've been running since 2009 doing various endurance races including multiple Ironman and ultra trail running mostly in Asia. While I consider myself an 'average' runner, I wanted to push my limits by racing in the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB). In 2012, I pre-registered for a lottery slot as this race is considered very popular, but unfortunately my luck wasn't so good and had to re-enter the following year. If you don't get accepted; then your odds double the next year and so, the second time your odds are much greater. You need to keep also in mind that you need to get official accredited points based on previous affiliated races that are greater than 42km.

To prepare for this race, I wanted to start the year by adding more load prior to my 100km races which included both Vibram Hong Kong 100km and Translantau 100km. This effort was named HYPERMAN which would include 10km swim, 300+km bike, and 100km trail run. Both run events were obviously slower but I was able to manage to complete both of them in under 21 and 24 hours respectively. Moving on the momentum, I decided to include 2 full Ironman races during the late and early spring in Australia.

Unfortunately, 3 months idle from summer commitments back in the United States prevented me from much long training. With only a month left; I planned to complete an Ironman 70.3. After this race, my plan was to do as many 30km runs as possible without breaking the system.

Quickly days past and I found myself in Chamonix, France with hours toeing others at the start line. The pre-race excitement was at its high with many sporting companies at the expo. This also included my sponsored shoe sole company Vibram which have been with me for over 4 years during my trail running adventures. They set me up with gear and apparel for the race which included:
* Compressports Socks

Unfortunately, this race became my first solo DNF, 7.8km from finish; the sad thing is I would have technically been DQ'd at 139.7 because I was 1 minute over the time limit. So, happier I was able to at least completed 161.5km.

Learning Points:
1. I am very very poor climber
2. Always get water and nutrition prior to leaving CP otherwise it will haunt you.
3. For more stability, don't run downhill with your poles..
4. Don't stay too long at CP (5-10 max)
5. Don't make this a team run, it's a solo race
6. If it rains, check feet no matter what; see foot doc if required. Don't wait until it's too late.
7. Extra phone, pictures, video, goPro WILL slow you down
8. Force yourself to shuffle on flats, walking eats time!
9. Get a watch that actually can hold a proper charge
10. DNF stands for Duke Nukem Forever!

Here are some segment Highlights:
The Start - rain, rain, rain!
Downhill to Saint Gervais: 343 runners passed
Downhill to Les Chapieux: 201 runners passed
Downhill to Courmayeur: 170 runners passed
Uphill without water/food to Catogne: 106 runners passed

I couldn't have done the downhills so 'fast' if it wasn't for HOKA One One + Vibram sole = Tor Speed WP. This shoe was meant for the trails with a sensational aggressive grip. With the muddy rocks and slippery sections of UTMB, Vibram soles provided great control and offered faster downhill speed. I've tried an older model of Hoka at UTMF (Mount Fuji) and found myself falling on my butt multiple times. It's really a stupendous shoe! This has cushion and grip.

In hindsight, it's obvious that my (lack of) training in the summer really hurt me. This is really a difficult race. To give you a comparison, my fitness certainly hasn't decreased much in 2 months; and when I did HYPERMAN this early year; my HK100 and Translantau 100 was under 21hrs and 24hrs respectively. The first 100km of UTMB was over 25hrs :(. The most important thing is that I didn't get hurt and can do this again sometime in the future. 

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