After getting serious FOMO that pretty much all of my friends were doing the London Marathon (I have no idea why as I had done Brighton the weekend before) I started to search for a magical entry. Unfortunately I couldn’t trick anyone into giving me a place but I then stumbled across nohtaraM ehT. The Marathon just back to front, starting at the finish and finishing at the start. The instructions for the start were slightly ominous, meet at McDonald’s on the Strand at either 2am, 3am or 4am, don't worry there will be other runners there the posts said.
Chatting away to my friends at work on Thursday I started to get serious FOMO as they told me about the adventures that they had planned for the Easter weekend of climbing Snowdon and Ben Nevis. I had no plans and was racking my brain for something to do when all of a sudden I decided that I should put their weekend plans together and give the Three Peaks Challenge a bash.
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.
After playing what was essentially pin the tails on the donkey to decide where I was going to run this weekend I woke up at 06:30am on Saturday and got involved with a bit of multi-tasking. I made porridge, glugged down a cup of tea whilst trying not to give myself 3rd degree burns and packed my backpack for my weekends adventure. My well thought out plan was to head South East until I reached Eastbourne and stop off in East Grinstead to meet Jenny for tea and cake! Fool proof!
On Friday someone at worked asked what I was up to on the weekend and it suddenly dawned on me that I had absolutely no plans. I had wanted to go on a little microadventure for a while and what a perfect opportunity to go on one! My first idea was to run to Paris but as it was already midday and I hadn’t packed any running kit and wasn’t sure that I could get the afternoon off work, run 50 miles to Brighton and make the 11pm ferry…I carried on thinking. I kept looking at my map and was trying to decide what to do when the Isle of Wight jumped out at me. I did a quick search as to the distance around the island, 70 Miles, perfect I could easily do that over a weekend. I booked a ferry went home and packed my bag for the weekends adventure.
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).