Although i’ve never been there in winter, i feel that every visit to Chamonix makes me love the place a little bit more. After first visiting to take part in the Mont Blanc Cross Race i was excited to head back there to watch the winners of the Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc (UTMB) come into town. The UTMB is revered by runners world wide as the race you want to win. This year was no exception with the worlds elite runners descending on Chamonix to tackle the 170km race with 9500m ascent to look forward to.
I managed to take advantage of the race delay (the start had been postponed on Friday as torrential rain and thunderstorms were in town) by going on a trail run up to the Montenvers train station up at 2,000m. By the time i made it back into town word was out that Kilian Jornet had stretched a lead and was due in town within the hour. Kilian has become somewhat of a sensation in the trail running world with all of his feats closely followed, and documented by Salomon in their tv show Kilian’s Quest.
Jornet came home after 20hrs 36mins, 9 minutes ahead of his teammate Iker Karrera who himself arrived 10 minutes before 3rd place runner Sebastien Chaigneau. After 170kms racing the top three were only separated by 19 minutes. Crazy stuff.
It was definitely an inspiring site to see and it got my mind thinking about the event next year – albeit the smaller version that runs earlier in the week alongside the UTMB. These are races which require qualifying for so a Autumn race in the UK is something i’d have to do should i fancy a chance at it. Trail running is definitely the latest “in” sport with major brands putting lots into its development. I’ll be there hoping to photograph and take part in this great sport as it progresses upwards.
Here’s a couple of shots – Kilian coming home to a winners reception and the sun setting down on Mont Blanc. Until next year…..