Rather than doing a race report for my abbreviated UTMB race I thought I'd do a list of the top 10 reasons why this trip over here was totally worth the time and money even though the race was cancelled after 3 hours of running:
10. Most of the cost of my trip was covered by my sponsors
9. The food. I'm actually kind of sick of the food here (I kind of just wish I could find somewhere to get a $2 burrito, a single slice of pizza, or a coffee to go), but I have had some pretty amazing meals. A good example would be the Pike Dumpling w/crayfish sauce and Risotto that I had for dinner the night before the race. I also had an amazing Monkfish w/garlic mashed potatoes dinner one night.
8. Being at the start of the race. This was simply amazing. People lined up in the streets 20 feet deep for the first half mile.
7. Watching the almost full moon rise of the Aigiulle Du Midi the first night I was in Chamonix. It was cloudy when I got here so you couldn't see the mountains but then just as the moon was coming up the clouds cleared off for the most amazing mountain moon rise I have ever seen in my life.
6. Running from the finish about 7 miles back on the race course to watch the lead runners come through in the "day after" UTMB. I was really excited to see Jez Bragg and Mike Wolfe running out front. I ran with each of them for a brief moment. It's certainly more fun to be in a race than to be a spectator, but it was kind of fun to be a "fan" for a day.
5. Chamonix. I don't know that I would ever want to live in this town but it is certainly a really special place. I used to think that we had some towns in the U.S. where people are really into outdoor recreation (Boulder, Moab, Bend, all the Colorado mountain towns, etc), but Chamonix makes all of these places seem like they're filled with a bunch of couch riding, overweight Americans.
4. Running through St. Gervais during the race. Mike Wolfe and I ran through St. Gervais together (about 12 miles into the race). You wind through town for almost a mile and the entire way there are people lined up shoulder to shoulder cheering, jumping up and down, and overflowing with excitement about the race. It's unbelievable. Small children. 80 year old folks. And everyone in between. If you have run through St. Gervais in the UTMB you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't I really don't know that any words can explain it.
3. Meeting and spending time with many of the most enjoyable and most talented (in many cases) ultra and mountain runners in the world. Not limited to, but most certainly including: Karl Meltzer, Mike Wolfe, Scott Jurek, Nicolas Mermoud, Kilian Jornet, Jez Bragg, Tracy Garneau, Rickey Gates, Scott Mason, Cory Johnson, and Bryon Powell.
2. The spectators all along the 20 miles of route that I ran before they stopped the race. I already mentioned the start and St. Gervais, but what was even more amazing to me were all the people out in the more remote areas of the course. This is a very social event in the small villages here. There are stretches where you run through neighborhoods and almost every home has people sitting on the front steps or up in the balconies and they are all cheering with genuine enthusiasm. In the U.S. it seems like many people would be annoyed by the clamor and disruption of having 2,300 runners race past their front door. Here though it seems like these people have such a deep and genuine respect/regard for all the racers. I kept thinking about how I wished I had the time to stop and make sure each of them knew how deep and genuine respect and regard I had for them.
1. Even though the race got stopped I still was able to run almost 60 miles (with almost 20,000 feet of total climbing) in the mountains in the 5 days that I was here. Some of the most enjoyable and beautiful mountain running I have ever done.