UTMB training camp


A dark matter workshop at CERN was a good excuse for a trip to the Alps to recce the UTMB route. I’d briefly thought about DIYing it, but was put off by the logistics of finding  beds at refuges and having to carry all my gear for 4 days. So I booked a place on an
ultrafondus training camp.

Rewinding to June, I thought my training was going OK with regular 3-5 hour hill repeat sets in the Peak district and 2 hour sessions on a mini-stepper. A lack of free weekends stopped me getting any full weekends in North Wales or the lakes in. And in retrospect the mini-stepper didn’t do anything for my hill climbing fitness.

In late June we headed off to
Burma for a fantastic fortnight’s holiday (to celebrate the other half’s 40th birthday...).  No running, but it was a fairly active holiday (including a couple of days leisurely trekking) and at least it allowed the lingering niggles in my legs to recover. On getting home I threw myself back into training. Unfortunately a mild case of Burma belly turned into full blown diarrhea (which took antibiotics to clear up) and after a couple of days I was completely wiped out. Even 5 flat miles around CERN was a lumbering struggle. Which wasn’t an ideal state to be in going into a 4 day 100 mile training camp...

It was clear from very early on that I was by far the slowest person there. The rest of the group included some very speedy and experienced ultra-runners. Even in reasonable shape I’d have been the slowest. But suffering from a complete lack of strength and energy I was waaaay slower than everyone else. And ended up suffering the humiliation of being towed up most of the climbs on an elastic tow-rope. Even then I was having to work far too hard to keep up, leaving me struggling on the subsequent descents and flats. Things got a bit better as the 4 days went on though, and the highlight was going up the final climb to La Tete Aux Vents and across to La Flegere under my own steam, at my own pace (albeit with a head start...)