This 10k race has been on my calendar for a year. I saw it last spring and although it conflicted with a trip back to Canada, I knew it would be one to go to in 2014.
Alex and I signed up for the 10k trail race that was a part of the bigger Sky Running World Championships weekend. The weekend was host to an 80k ultra, vertical kilometre, marathon, cross (23km), 10k, and 3k mini cross for the kids. We were tempted to enter the cross but figured we’d test our legs first with the 10k (and not worry about spending the rest of our holiday hobbling around with sore legs).
We woke up in London at the same time the ultra runners were setting off on the 80k, and arrived in Chamonix just as the first man finished. (I think it’s how I’ll judge future travel plans, “would it take longer to run 80k?”) We hung out in town for a bit taking selfies with ultra runners and soaking in the atmosphere of what promised to be a great weekend.
We headed over to the race expo which was set up at an outdoor plaza, and grabbed our race numbers in very typically French fashion. There were separate lines for each race, but of course without telling anyone the categories didn’t really matter and anyone could go in any line. Just when you started to think that they’re really nice and laid-back, nope. They would not under any circumstance give you your race pack without ID and your race number. So everyone had to go to the wall and find their number and tell it to the volunteer. They also were not accommodating for anyone who had to switch tshirt sizes. It’s a minor pet peeve of mine when you have to choose a race tshirt size during registration and they don’t tell you if they are mens/women’s shirts. It’s something men never have to worry about, but I’m a small mens and a large women’s, so there is a big difference. (They did say to come back after the race if there were any leftover sizes so we did that in the end).
After the expo we headed back to watch the VK. Starting in town the race ran straight up under the Planpraz gondola. It was awesome to see everyone in the first few hundred metres pretty excited and running, not sure how their smiles lasted, but I’m sure they found that smile again at the top.
Being a little bit of a fangirl I got right up close to cheer on Emelie Forsberg, Stevie Kremer who did their best to convince me that running skirts are the way forward to be kick ass runners (it didn’t work, I just can’t!). We also watched Kilian Jornet warm up and subsequently smash the course VK record. One thing I noticed about these elites are that they do not stop moving before a race. Stevie was bouncing, dancing, shaking her legs, everything to keep moving and keep her muscles warmed up.
On our way back to our hotel we got the last baguette in town (don’t leave carb loading too late in a town with 5,000 hungry runners) and make my favourite international supermarket special of a meal. Bread & cheese & spaghetti & meat & wine.
The next morning we were up bright and early for the 10k race. They had pushed the start an hour earlier to avoid the forecast bad rain (that never arrived) but we were staying so close we woke up an hour before the start and had a leisurely walk to the start. We walked past the most beautiful track in the world too. That said, when you live in Chamonix, why would you run on a track?
Right away we found our friends Ashley & Emily who were from Geneva and running the 10k to. There were a few hiccups at the start of the race as the leaders went the wrong way (the course was marked with tape & paint on the ground like most trail races) so we were delayed starting about an hour. Not that it really mattered, I could happily spend hours just looking at the mountains.
When we started it was pretty crowded on the trail but I was happy to go at a super slow pace. No excuses, but this was the first real test of my leg since injury and somehow I got my first ear infection ever a couple days before. Luckily the bunk leg and bunk ear were on different sides of my body so I was hoping my balance would remain somewhere in the middle. I kept up pace with Alex, Ashley, and Emily for the first bit and although puffing hard, I felt great. The first steep hill came and went and I started to feel in the groove. We crossed the river about half way through and then went up the other side of the valley. Straight up. In true trail running style everyone walked the steep single track sections and scrambled down the descents.
Out of the forest and back down by the river we were on the home stretch and I ran with Alex right to the finish line.
Gear wise: I loved my Brooks Cascadias, they were perfect for the mixed trail surfaces we ran on. My decathlon shorts are sometimes on the see-through side so I wouldn’t buy them again, but they do the job. The Asics shirt is one of my favourite shirts ever. So soft, so long, such a perfect cut. The visor was essential and so comfortable in the heat. I wasn’t really keen on the camel back as the Mountain Warehouse pack didn’t quite fit right (might be my fault for not fussing with the straps enough) and while I could take water on while running I never really got enough and had a few coughing fits. I’d much rather stop and have a drink from a bottle/bag.
Post race we found ourselves on a patio with the refreshing Mont Blanc Blanche and what was described as “cheese on toast” on the menu. Whatever the distance, mountain running makes me hungry so I happily finished the plate!
The next morning we were up early to watch the marathon. Due to the bad weather the route was changed and they ended up running right past our hotel just before heading into town and running 1k to the finish. We were lucky enough to see Kilian Jornet run past us with Bruno Brunod on his way to winning the marathon. From there we followed them into town and watched as they ran through the packed main street.
My marathon emotions were in overdrive watching everyone finish the race, and over amazing pancakes at a little restaurant on the river, Alex and I decided we’d be back to try it ourselves. Not next year, and probably not the one after that. But if this 72 year old finisher was anything to go by, I’ve got a few years to get there.
We watched the rest of the awards given out and ended up standing right beside the Salomon Trail Team. All the top runners were just there hanging out being so friendly to those who wanted autographs or photos.
Our last day in Chamonix saw us hiking up the VK route, and we made it about 300m before we stopped for a beer in the sun. We have some work to do if we’re going to complete the marathon but that training can start tomorrow.