Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Aug 12 - 25

8/12/2013
Mon - 1:52, 3000' ~ First Flatiron+Green Mt.
Got up early enough that I had to wait about 5min at the base of the First for it to get light enough to climb it. Pretty slow ascent, then, but good to get it in before getting on a plane to France. Descended over Flagstaff back to my apartment.

8/13/2013
Tue - off.
Wanted to go for a jog in Les Houches in the afternoon/evening to shake off the jet-lag, but I was suffering temporary semi-blindness from unknowingly putting hydrogen peroxide in my eyes. Don't do that.

8/14/2013
Wed - 2:07, 5000' ~ Brevent, Chamonix
Cruised up and down the local hill with Joe. The last 1000' or so were in a cloud, so it was quite chilly and the big views across the valley to the Mt. Blanc massif were obscured. Thankfully, my eyes seem to have recovered despite waking with them crusted shut.

8/15/2013
Thu-AM: 8:25, 14,000' ~ Les Houches to Courmayeur, UTMB course
The BUFF house is just outside of Les Houches, 2mi from the base of the Voza climb on the UTMB course, so Joe and I started our tour around the mountain from there.  Overall, the day went really well---there were a few navigational errors on the descent into St. Gervais, but otherwise it was just a great day in the mountains, ~45mi or so. I was more than a little surprised at the smooth, gradual nature of almost the entire track, however. This is definitely a running race.

8/16/2013
Fri - 5:00, 9000' ~ Courmayeur to Champex-Lac, UTMB course
Met Seb Chaigneau, Timmy and Krista outside the bus station in Courmayeur for our 29mi run over to Champex. Seb and I ran together all day, enjoying epic views of the backside of the Mt. Blanc massif much of the way. Got another room in a hostel in Champex that night. Pretty cush way to do a multi-day outing.

8/17/2013
Sat - 4:29, 6000' ~ Champex-Lac to Chamonix, UTMB course
I woke up today with a gimpy hamstring, so just jogged easily back to Chamonix. Ended up taking the wrong climb out of Trient (went up to La Balme instead of Catogne), which meant I missed the final climb up to Flegere as well. Interestingly, I found this final 29mi of the course to be the most to my liking out of the whole loop. More steep, direct climbs and descents with less gradual terrain in between than earlier in the course.

8/18/2013
Sun - off. 
Left achilles and right hamstring were pretty dinged up, so decided to just take a day and make sure I recover.

Hours: 37,000'
Vert: 21h53min

-------------------------

8/19/2013
Mon - off.

8/20/2013
Tue - :31, 250' ~ Les Houches
Just jogged into Les Houches to test out my legs. Things are loosening up.

8/21/2013
Wed - 2:16, 5100' ~ Brevent
Up and down this 8300' peak on the north side of the Chamonix valley. Took it easy just testing out my legs and dabbled in a little via feratta on the way up, nothing too interesting, though. It was a gorgeous day, however, and I was granted spectacular views over to the Mont Blanc massif that were obscured when Joe and I ran up here last week.

8/22/203
Thu - 6:08, 13,000' ~ Mont Blanc
Up and down the Gouter route, starting at the bottom of the Glacier du Bionassy/Bellivue Telepherique in Les Houches at 3300'. With a 15,781' summit and a few rollers along the way, it was a big vert day. The route involves very nice trail all the way up to the Grand Couloir at ~10,000' where the route crosses a gully prone to rockfall before ascending the 3rd Class ridge on it's climber's righthand side. After scrambling nearly 1000m of vert up this one gets to the Gouter hut at 12,600', whence begins the long trudge up flat to 35 degree snow slopes and ridges. I put on my Kahtoola KTS Steel crampons at about 13,500' as the snow was still fairly frozen at 10am, and trudged my way to the summit happy for the extra security these offered. After reaching the top in 3:54 from Les Houches I spent nearly a full hour on top enjoying the view and pristine weather. I was eventually joined by Seb Chaigneau and Joe and we soon descended. After a few hundred feet of descent along the bootpack track I could tell the snow was much softer than during the climb, so took off the crampons and enjoyed an unencumbered descent back down the mountain, dropping the nearly 13k' of vert in 2h14. Really rewarding summit.

8/23/2013
Fri - 2:24, 5400' ~ La Jonction
This is a run from the valley floor up a spectacular ridge of forest and rock that splits two impressive glaciers--Bosson on the left and Taconnaz on the right. The summit of the ridge (8600') is where the two glaciers meet, thus the name. It is also the route of the first ascent of Mont Blanc, way back in 1786. Near the top of the ridge there is a plaque on a giant boulder under which the pioneering duo of Balmat and Paccard bivied during their first ascent. I love this kind of history. The run up was on fantastic trail and the views of the glaciers were breathtaking. We just don't have stuff like this in Colorado. Not to mention the vertical mile of climbing with thousands of feet of relief still above you.

8/24/2013
Sat - 2:44, 5500' ~ Gornergrat
Last night Joe and I drove to Switzerland and hopped the mandatory train to Zermatt to spectate at the Matterhorn Ultraks 46K Skyrace, a first-year event. The course looked to be quite spectacular, so I opted to run to its highest point, the Gornergrat Observatory at 3100m (10,400'), getting in the standard vertical mile of relief. The course took a less-than-direct route to the summit, and the same with the descent back to town, but the views of Monte Rosa, the Matterhorn, Dent Blanche, and the Weisshorn were all stunning.

8/25/2013
Sun - 2:03, 3500' ~ Vallorcine to Chamonix
Joe dropped me off in Vallorcine (~ mile 92 of the 104mi loop) and I ran the UTMB course back to Cham via Col des Montets, La Flegere, and La Floria. Steep climb with somewhat techy footing at times and the same on the descent to Flegere. Should be fun after nearly 20hrs on the legs. It was a misty, foggy, drizzly morning, as the last few days have been. After two weeks of bluebird days, the Chamonix valley is taking its usual late-August turn toward gloomy weather for race week.

Hours: 16h06min
Vert: 32,750'

It's been a great couple of weeks, but I'm ready to just race this thing already. Resting before a big race always feels that way, though. I've had the usual little niggle here and there, but nothing really worth mentioning. I'm primed and ready to go, feeling like I've prepared pretty much the absolute best that I can. I'm really excited to race 100 miles against such a deep, international field on what I think is a very fair course. The track is overwhelmingly smooth and fast and not at high altitude, but the ~32k' of climbing should allow me to be competitive. In the past there has always been a lot of talk about how "the Alps are not like North American mountains". That is patently true. The vertical relief and the miles of glaciers and granite spires here is like nothing in the US. But the UTMB course never engages any of that. At all. It tends to roll through grassy hills instead. The Hardrock course is magnitudes more rugged and remote than anything the TMB covers. Nevertheless, I'm really looking forward to the extra energy that the runners are sure to receive any time we pass through the many villages on the route.

My first run in Chamonix--descending from Le Brevent. Photo: Joe Grant.
Panorama of the Mt. Blanc massif from Grand Col Ferret (99km) before crossing from Italy into Switzerland.. 
Aiguille Verte (behind) and the Dru, just up-valley from Chamonix.
Businessman Seb on the summit of Mont Blanc.
Nearly to the top of the Gornergrat, high above Zermatt with the Weisshorn behind. Photo: Laurent Court.
At the Casa de BUFF outside of Les Houches. Photo: Jordi Saragossa.

45 comments:

Daniel said...

Beautiful photos and it sounds like you're comfortable with the course and terrain. Good luck! It'll be very cool to see you mixing it up at the front.

Brad Williams said...

Good luck out there. 110v2 for UTMB?

Rain said...

I hope you have a great race! What an amazing place to run! Thanks as always for sharing pictures!

John said...

Well if this wasn't a bucket list race before it certainly is now. Awesome pictures and great description. Looking forward to seeing how the race unfolds later this week.

Tucker Goodrich said...

Good luck. We're rooting for you!

Steve Pero said...

Best of luck, Tony! This is your chance to shine!
Loved reading that comment about the Hardrock course ;-)

stamanu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stamanu said...

I wish you all the best for your race this weekend. I think I may drive from Grenoble to support you. It's a good thing you got a sense of the French trails you'll be running and managed to run the entire UTMB course. You snapped some awesome pics and your description of those two weeks was also very interesting. Hope you enjoy it here in France. A small typo : you got the dates wrong as of Thursday 22nd so please set up the date on your watch because it would be a real bummer if you forget to show up on race day!!!
In France we say "merde!" (meaning "shit") to wish someone good luck for an exam or a competition. So "Merde" to you Tony!

C.J. Hitz said...

Wish you well Tony! Go grab that elusive American victory

Greg Abrams said...

Good luck at UTMB! Also, if you don't mind could you share how you taper for a race like this? How many miles/hours/vertical you do the week of the race.
Thanks
Greg Abrams

coach dion said...

100miles is a long way, and maybe I should put in a bit of training and tackel one, that look amazing, will be following how go.

Old Runningfox. said...

Best of luck Tony, have a good run. Will be rooting for you all the way....

Bidou said...

Good luck

hopefully you can enjoy a good tartiflette too

biogenez said...

Hello from Russia!
Good luck!

stamanu said...

Hi Tony
Any idea what pair of shoes you'll be wearing on race day?
Thanks

Barry Bliss said...

Man, I get inspired everytime I see a new post/photo on here.

Nano said...

I'll be in the French/Swiss Alps in late September and was wanting a go at Mt. Blanc. Can you give me some advice on what you wore (shoes/warm clothes?) going up, was there any crevasse danger, and was the track easy to follow to the top. Thanks, it would be a great help. Good luck running the UTMB.

Tjalle den Ouden said...

All the best, mountain duderino!

Mike said...

You clearly are not that smart. I will not follow your lameness. You should just keep doing what you do and not race. You over train

Lisa said...

Hi Anton! Long time no read your blog. I did follow your race at UTMB- you really were in a position to win I think. Do you think you'll attempt it again?

I am also curious as to how you unknowingly put hydrogen peroxide in your eyes. I laughed out loud when I read that and then again at your description of your eyes being crusted shut. Reminds me of a friend who decided to use a Neti pot with hydrogen peroxide- extreme burning pain and bloodshot eyes ensued. Not funny but so funny! Forgive me for I am a nurse and we nurses have a twisted sense of humor...

ryan jones said...

Hey Anton I saw that you took that last Sunday off because of a couple things that you wanted to make sure recovered properly, and that got me thinking, do you only take days off only when you feel you need them? Or do you plan certain days of the week or month to take off even if you feel fine?

David said...

That's odd. I appear to have stumbled onto the Let's Run message boards...

Barry Bliss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barry Bliss said...

Anton's my favorite "ultra" runner.
The only one that comes close is Geoff Roes.
It MAY be true that Anton "overtrains", but the way I see it, he just doesn't have racing as his number one priority.
He MAY be the best ultra distance runner in the world, even better than Killian, but who knows, and speaking for myself, who cares.
I, personally, do not care about racing.
I know the sponsors pretty much require it, and Tony may like seeing his fellow runners--and yes, he has said he likes the races, but I still get the sense that he doesn't work everything around them.
He is not choking when he drops out.
He's a gutsy guy, perhaps even in the vein of Prefontaine.
At any rate, I appreciate his demeanor, his humility, and his doing something for all the right reasons.
He inspires me more than any of the rest.
He also happens to have a real talent for writing.-------

Thanks, Anton, for inspring me without even trying to.

Barry Bliss said...

Reaize that the above is simply my take on it all at the moment.
I could be wrong, and besides, what is going on with Anton is none of my business.
I am simply sharing thoughts---it's not any kind of definitive statement.

Mike said...

Anton inspires me too. I just really wanted him to throw down on that stage. I am sure he will.

Barry Bliss said...

Maybe he will and maybe he won't.

For me, my being a fan isn't based on his race results.
(Not saying anyone else's is.)

Nathan Gray said...

I work with some dudes who climb at an elite level (I am a head routesetter at a Colorado gym). Several weeks ago a group of us went to do the old Cable Route on Long's Peak. My fellow employee, who has bouldered V13 and climbed with some of the top climbers in the world was standing next to me as we descended the summit back to the entrance of Cables. Anton had crushed Kiener's that morning and passed us on his way up. He paused to shake my hand and listen to my wife tell him how much I was in love with him, then he continued to the summit. While we discussed his crazy antics I said, "Cool, we'll be able to see him come back down." We watched for him, but in a matter of minutes he had already summited and dropped below us to the North. In awe we watched as he pretty ran down the technical 5.4, and disappeared across the boulder field. My co-worker looked at me and said, "I have seen Daniel Woods climb V14, and thought to myself 'That's possible'. But after witnessing that, I do not understand how THAT, is humanly possible." Keep crushing Anton. You are a God.

Nathan Gray said...

*much

And I might add: I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure he was on his third summit of Long's that week, which included a PR like three days earlier.

#Beast

Nathan Gray said...

AND, since I'm here...

To all you who sit at your computer and critique: Keep in mind that you will never run, or do anything, at the level at which Anton performs. So consider keeping your critiques to yourself. Or better yet, register for a race, and use your advice on yourself. Hell, since it's so good, you might podium ;)

Barry Bliss said...

Nothing but respect for Anton.

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