Waking up at 6am and looking out the window to a flurry of snow falling from the sky you know that running 58 miles is going to be a challenge! Without thinking much more about it I donned my running shoes chucked on my back pack and headed into London to Marble Arch where I would start my little journey to run to Paris!
Sitting at home on a Thursday night Matt and I started to conjure up a plan to go and do a Microadventure. After a few ideas were thrown about we decided to go and attempt the Vanguard Way (VGW). This is a 66 mile long distance walking trail that goes from Croydon to Newhaven. The original plan was to do a bit of it on Friday night, wild camp and then carry on with the rest on Saturday.
The Haute Route is an alpine walking trail that runs from Chamonix to Zermatt, covers 180km and climbs 10,000m. It is usually takes 12 days to cover the route but we were going to see how far we could get in 5 days. Seven crazy fools had signed up to tackle this challenge all who had a varying levels of experience; Steven had cycled through Africa, Ross had completed the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc, Mountain Goat Maeve had just got back from running Scaffel Pike Marathon, Will is normally found smashing up the track with very fast 5000m races and Andrea and Tom AKA ‘The Heavies’ are Crossfit extraordinaires who were used to squatting mountains not climbing them. This was going to be a fun few days.
Fancy darting through Sherwood Forest as fast as possible whilst trying to read a map, firing bow and arrows and climbing up castle turrets then this race is for you!
Read my full write up of this adrenaline pumped and Red Bull infused orienteering race on Hard as Trail
I got off the train in Zermatt and the first thing I searched for was the Matterhorn unfortunately with the low cloud you couldn’t see a thing above the village. It would take me 3 days until I eventually got to see the Matterhorn in all its glory and the first sight of it was completely encapsulating, for a mountain it has a strange and mesmerising hold on you. I was in Zermatt to take part in The Matterhorn Ultraks 46km Skyrace. This would be my first Skyrace, first mountain race and first ultra marathon and what better place to do it than in picturesque Switzerland. I decided to head out to Zermatt a few days before the race to practice running in the mountains and recce as much of the course as I could. My experience of running in the mountains consists of 8 days spent in Chamonix last month where I incorporated the Tour of Mont Blanc so you could say it is somewhat limited so why on earth did I decided to do a 46km race with 3600m of climbing in the middle of the Alps? For the challenge of course!
I first heard about the tour of Mont Blanc through a couple of friends that had taken part in the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB) a crazy race that sees hardy individuals complete the 170km route through 3 countries dipping down into several valleys and raising up many cols to total 10,000m of climbing in one go. Having not really spent that much time on my two feet in the mountains and the fact that you need to gain sought after qualification points and be successful in a ballot before even gaining your place on the start line completing the UTMB is currently out of my reach (for now).
Eight weeks ago I got picked to be part of Team Whole earth and to take on Man V Horse on the 13 June in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales. I was really excited to be chosen as one of the 6 members of the team and I was looking forward to what the next 8 weeks of training. Over the next few weeks I spent a significant amount of time at Boxhill, as it is the only hill in Surrey, running up and down as many hills as I could. I loved training on the hills and the trails and found it a lot more enjoyable than the roads mainly because of the awesome views, change in pace and challenge of the mud and rocks underfoot. The week before the race training was going well I had begun my taper and then I got a chest infection, I was pretty annoyed but little did I know this was a blessing in disguise!
Yesterday morning my alarm started to beep at a very early 05.30am to wake me up for the Highland Fling Relay! I wasn’t entirely sure what I was about to embark on, needless to say this was completely my own fault as I decided to keep my leg a ‘surprise’. All I knew was that I was going to run on trails for around 14miles and would have to run up and down Conic Hill in the process.
So I headed to a car park in Milngavie to meet the rest of my team. For 6.30am everyone was in incredibly high spirits potentially due to the mountains of cake we had secured in the boot of the car. Making our way to the start Marnie was up first and at 7am along with the rest of the relay runners disappeared into the distance. We hopped back into the car and drove to Drymen to where I would be taking on the relay baton or timing chip in this case.