Day 3 of the run had to be put on hold for 24 hours due to bad weather moving in. Snow was forecast on Wednesday over 2000mt and we were aiming on crossing the highest mountain pass on the trip the Grand Col de Ferrett which was over 2600mts.
We spent the day off sorting out the legs which were very, very sore after 2 days of hard running and climbing with over 84km covered. After several hot baths, some light massage and plenty of food we awoke on Thursday feeling much better and the weather was gorgeous again.
We started straight into what quickly turned into a savage hard climb that was impossible to run more than short sections before having to climb hands on knees and scrambling over some rocky parts. It took close to two hours to get to the top and when we did it was onto what was some of the best running so far. A singletrack trail followed the contours along the side of the mountain climbing and falling for probably close to an hour and a half.
The views were unbelievable and I had to keep reminding myself to look up from my feet and the trail. After a coffee stop at a refuge we had another couple of hours climbing the contours of the valley before dropping down steeply to the start of the biggest climb of the week. Looking up at massive mountains all around us I pointed to the biggest and most snow covered one joking with Ais that was the one we were heading for.
She wasn’t amused…
It turned out I was right.
We started the climb in t shirt and shorts but by halfway up we were wearing hats, gloves and 4 layers including puffy jackets and GoreTex rain shells.
The wind was savage and the second half of the climb got progressively steeper until we were into snow and ice. Often the trail would be slushy and icy and badly cambered along a cliff edge and we were scrambling along holding onto rocks and grass hoping not to slide off. It was alternately breath takingly beautiful and terrifying as the views opened out to show another snow covered peak as we skirted trails around a cliff edge. The wind was savage all the way up but at least it was mostly behind us so we weren’t fighting it all the time.
As we neared the top huge rolling clouds started to close in fast and I was worried that we would be caught in a snow storm and not be able to find our way off the mountain. If the snow covered the trails it would be next to impossible to know which way to go. We came to the top and immediately started to descend the trail on the far side and within 5 minutes the clouds had cleared the sun came out and the mountain was blocking the wind. The weather can change so fast up high it’s incredible. The descent was a perfect trail for running and after stripping back to t shirts we let the brakes off and ran hard off the mountain. At the bottom we ate a couple of biscuits and started the next section of rolling singletrack to our lunch stop.
After a lunch of fruitcake and coffee we headed out for the final part of the days running. I was feeling so good at this stage with close to 8 hours running and climbing in my legs that we discussed going all the way through to the end. It would have meant 95-100k straight through and we were both really keen to try it but in the end the thoughts of getting lost in the mountains at night decided us and we finished in Champex Lac for the night.
I’ve moved my training and racing blog over onto our coaching site, TriCoach.ie
you can check it out here
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Chasing Kona book available
From smoker to back of the pack triathlete to the Ironman World Championships.
Read about how I overcame all of the odds and discovered what it would take to get to the Ironman World Championships – my eBook is now available to buy as an eBook on Amazon UK, Amazon US, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes
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