Lizzie Hawker storming through Les Houches for the second time
Well it's been a long and soggy night with it's fair share of drama. The start was delayed as for the first time in the history of the event the winner of the CCC arrived in Chamonix before the start of the main event. Forcing his way to the line against a tide of 2800 fresh runners would have been a very cruel joke. In the end Spaniard Tofol Castaner Bernat triumphed in a stunning time of 8:57:04.
Tofol Bernat having his kit checked before the start of the CCC
Once the race was underway we drove up to St Gervais expecting to see Jez through in the leading pack. However a quick phone call revealed that he'd had a few problems and wasn't on his game so had opted to retire at St Gervais. He'd been with the leaders until the first climb from Les Houches where he slipped steadily back with nothing in the tank. A tough call but the right one in the circumstances. A hot toddy and crepe was just what the doctor ordered and he was back in Chamonix to see his fiancee Gemma complete her first CCC in 16:35.
With Jez out of the running we turned our focus on four time champion Lizzie Hawker who was having a good race. Lizzie is also on the North Face team having won the UTMB in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2011 with a second in 2009. We watched her come back through Contamine in 24th place and 25 minutes up on her nearest rival while a stream of slower runners were still checking in for the first time. By Les Houches she was up to 17th with a number of other runners in her sights. We'll be back out again in a couple of hours to see her finish.
A special mention must go to the checkpoint staff in Les Houches who were keeping their spirits up, despite the rain, with plenty of singing and dancing. They were also offering bucket loads of support to every competitor. It created a really good atmosphere which was much appreciated after the chaos and a few grumpy marshals at St Gervais.
Leaving St Gervais in the rain with a long night ahead
Very soggy conditions at St Gervais
Would Sir like banana with that?
The 1000 yard stare of the ultra distance runner
Lizzy at Contamine for the second time