Mile 24: The fog keeps getting thicker as we climb, its raining, cold and the wind is howling, the dude ahead of me on the trail is yelling about something but I can’t hear a thing. I used to hate running in the dark, and I especially hated the rain. Now I love sideways rain, it reminds me of home.
Mile 28: After 14 miles of climbing I finally see a massive North Face tent and headlamps of volunteers through the fog. They look cold, the ground and their tent is covered in snow, I’m super thankful I don’t have to stand at 2500 meters all night. Their tent looks inviting, half of me wonders if they would notice if I took a quick nap.
Mile 35: I glance over my shoulder through the dark and see a snaking trail of headlamps wind through the valley below. Its beautiful, but also kind of terrifying. It oddly feels like you’re being hunted by 2275 cold, hungry runners, and in a way you are.
Mile 44: I hear, “Dave is that you?!” As Ghelfi hammers down the trail behind me. We descend into Courmayeur in relative silence, We’ve talked enough in the past 10 years… and we’ve got over 62 miles to go.
Mile 61: As I walk into the aid station the medical check guy comes over and says, “maybe put on all your clothes… Very cold up high” I’m drinking soup as fast as I can, its kind of burning my mouth but it also feels great. Within 30 seconds I feel like a new person. I shove 3 snickers bars in my pack and head up into the howling wind, I can see the snow line 2000 feet up. For a few minutes I imagine I’m one of those discovery channel storm chasers.
Mile 62: Stop to put on all my clothes.
Mile 63: Cold.
Mile 64: High point on the course, lots of fog and snow and wind. Pretty beautiful.
Mile 73: Switzerland is really quiet. I’m starting to drift off into bonkland, the cold and downhill running is taking its toll. I’ve been out of food for a few miles, water is too cold to drink, its hard to keep my eyes open. Some strange lump in my pack has been bothering me for 2 miles, I reach over and unzip my pocket to find out whats digging into my rib. An unwrapped snickers bar falls out into my hand…I shove the whole thing into my mouth like Augustus Gloop.
Mile 78: Opening everything up, 50K to go, no holding back now. Power every climb, attack every descent.
Photo from Trail Boss Chris Neilson
Mile 85: MUD. So much Mud. The trail becomes a mud slip and slide, but thats ok, sliding seems faster.
Mile 99: This is the worst I have ever felt in my life, or maybe the best, its hard to tell at this point, whats the difference anyway. Just get to the finish.
Mile 102: Last aid station, last descent, 2 bowls of soup, 2 chocolates, 2 cups of coke, 2 legs ready to hammer it home. I know I’ve missed the top 10, but I’m happy with how I raced, I let loose on the downhill and race the rain.
Mile Whatever: Over the last mile I give more high fives than I usually do at the finish. Its pouring rain, I feel like the spectators and kids with their hands out deserve a high five for braving the storm all day. I mean you’d have to be bonkers to stand out there in the rain, but hey, who am I to judge.
After each 100 Mile race I’m just really thankful. Thankful to be done mostly, but also thankful to have an opportunity to do something really hard, and find that diamond in an experience. I have many many people who have helped me out these past few weeks. Huge thanks to Run the Alps, If you want to have an amazing adventure in the Alps check them out. Thanks to Nike Trail Running guys, and the folks at Nike who made UTMB specific gear, GU Energy, Trail Butter Like The Wind Magazine and All of you. I really appreciate all the support and help from volunteers on the course. You all braved the elements and we could not have made it around the mountain without your help.
Congrats to all the runners out there but especially Tim Tollefson, 3rd place two years in a row is incredible.
If you have any interest in GPS files here are links to Strava from this years race (Mile 0-78) (78-Finish)