So, I have been accepted into this year’s UTMB – Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc – at the end of August. I’m going to try to blog occasionally about my preparation, probably not much interest to anyone else really but useful for me to get my thoughts in order at least.What is the UTMB? It is a 100 mile ultra-marathon based on the Tour du Mont Blanc long distance hiking trail, starting and finishing in Chamonix and passing through France, Italy and Switzerland. There is also approximately 9000m of climbing and descending, and 2010 winner Jez Bragg has said the best comparison is that it’s like going up and down Snowdon from Llanberis 10 times in a row. The cut off time for completion is 46 hours.
The first I remember hearing about the UTMB was in this article in the Guardian. Interestingly this was just after I’d completed my first Ironman tri so maybe my mind was ripe for planting the seed to do something even more crazy. Anyway, I remember reading this article and thinking it sounded insane, but in a good way. Shortly afterwards a few other people in Manchester Tri, mainly Brian, started talking about it and fatefully I looked at the qualification procedures. That was it, a year of going short and fast in 2010 was replaced with ultras; Osmotherley Phoenix, Lakeland 50 and Ridgeway Challenge. The latter two gave me my 5 qualification points to enter the UTMB draw.
I wasn’t going to though, oh no. The last 6 hours of the Ridgeway were very hard, possibly the toughest and most painful thing I’ve ever done, and I was in no great rush to repeat the experience. I managed to convince myself I’d have a year off then enter the UTMB in 2012. But over the Christmas period my resolve started to crumble, I started thinking about it more and more and in the end it became inevitable I’d enter this year.I did, and I was selected in the draw. Unfortunately Brian didn’t get selected, but I’m sure he’ll find something equally mad to do this year (as I type he is nearing the end of a Double Ironman in Lanzarote!).