Chamonix Mont Blanc Marathon
France - June 2009
We have a 14 strong running team all set to go to Chamonix to run in the Marathon, Half Marathon or 10K races. This coincided with my 50th Birthday. We were able to rent a chalet for the weekend that accommodated the group. The house had a hot-tub, barbeque and was well located 15 minutes walk from Chamonix centre with views of Mont Blanc.
All in al it was a tremendous weekend. Many of the group experienced real mountain running for the first time and everyone enjoyed the occasion.
10K - 'Cross' Half Marathon - Full Marathon Events
10K Team - Saturday 27th June 2009
'Cross' Half Marathon Team - Saturday 27th June 2009
Marathon Team - Sunday 28 June 2009
A well organised venue that was quite spacious and no queues. The usual 'French' medical certificate system was required to be verified.
Race Day - 10K and 'Cross'
I decided to be different and run both the 10K and Marathon. I would take it fairly easy on the 10K and use it as a warm-up for Sunday. The 10k turned out to be quite a gruelling challenge starting 15 minutes after the 'Cross' event. In fact probably one of the hardest 10K races I've done. The team were of the same view but everyone finished well and enjoyed the 1200 foot ascent during the 6 mile course!
Carole Wilkinson being 3rd V50 lady and myself 3rd V50 man. We both won a nice goody bag of prizes at the presentation held later in the day!
'Cross' Half Marathon
Bill and Kath braved this 14 mile course over some 4000 feet of ascent. Both had a great experience in mountain running and finished some 7000' up in the mountain above Chamonix where the rest of us greeted their finish.
Race Day - Marathon
This marathon was probably one of the toughest I've done yet. The first ten miles was a gradual ascent of a few thousand feet. Pace was the secret. Many runners were jogging past me going far too fast. I kept a steady 5 to 6 mph pace walking or 'yomping' rather than running. (I was proved right when I was passing many of them later in the race) After 10 miles the course descended for two miles along a wide grassy trail that was a relief to the legs. However, I knew it would be short lived as there was another 3000 foot climb ahead.
At the bottom of the descent there was another feed station packed with runners. Some sitting around eating and drinking the great variety of refreshments on offer. I took advantage, filled my bottle quickly and took a few glugs of isotonic and was away within a minute. This allowed me to take out at least 20 runners!
The course ascended steeply for three miles through trees before plateauing onto a breathtaking mountain top that was ablaze with green shrubbery and colourful alpine plants. A tremendous sight with a backdrop of Mont Blanc!!
Bizarrely, there was a jazz band playing at the feed station at this level and I thought I was almost at the summit. However, the path ascended slowly for another mile along a tricky ridge. The views were tremendous and made up for the further pain!
At the top it was a relief to be descending again. The path was steep and windy and I did the right thing wearing my Walsh PB's as the extra grip allowed me to descent quickly and safely taking out some 20 runners or so on the way down.
At the valley bottom I passed onto the other side of the mountain range ready to take on the last but long ascent to the finish. It was some 10 miles of traverse up and down like a roller coaster but easier than the previous ascents.
With four miles to go I could hear the PA systems at the finish echoing around the mountain. Having been at the finish yesterday to watch the 'Cross' runners Bill and Kath, I was able to envisage the last mile or so (as I had lost all perception of distance and time now!)
Soon the finish was in view some 500 feet above me and I could make out the Broady Tour supporters lined up to watch.
The final hike up to the finish was tough as the sun now was high in the sky with temperatures of 80 degrees. I crossed the line in 6hrs 22 minutes - Probably one of the toughest marathons yet.
A tremendously well organised event. Faultless course with many surprises along the way. The views for much of the way were stunning with Mont Blanc clear to see. I thing the alpine plants were the most breathtaking, the green plateau sat among a 360 degree backdrop of snowy mountains - Tremendous!!
Everyone had achieved their goals. Dave Wilkinson finished the full marathon behind me in 9 hours. His first mountain marathon - one he will remembers for some time to come!
The group ate and drank into the evening and enjoyed the outdoor Jacuzzi at the Mountain High Chalet. All in all, another great Broady Tour!
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Thinking of Running the Chamonix Mont Blanc Marathon?
Marathon Score Ratings
Registration - 9/10
Start/Finish - 10/10
Course - 10/10
Registration - 9/10
Start/Finish - 9/10
Course - 10/10
Recommended - 10/10
Flights - Easy Jet to Geneva - Circa £80
Transfers - car hire - 4 x car circa £55 pp (Tip: Avoid driving on Swiss motorway - further cost £30 Vignette)
Accommodation - 13 x share of 7 bedroom chalet costing £1000
Marathon Entry Fee - £46
Contact: Steve Broadbent
Courtesy of: http://montblancmarathon.net/photos//parcours.jpg