Race founder Catherine Poletti addressing the crowds
UTMB 2012 winner Francois d'Haene
2012 UTMB Champion & 5 time winner Lizzie Hawker
The UTMB 2012 podium
The North Face athletes were having an interesting day at the office. Seb Chaigneau was always going to have a challenging event. Just 6 weeks ago he suffered a badly cut knee in a fall which required 25 stiches. Early on last night he fell again and cut the other knee. By argientiere his vision had deteriated to such an extent that he was packed off to hospital to get checked out. The good news is he's all fine
Zigor Iturrieta was running well when again a fall at Contamine in the tricky conditions robbed him of the chance of being competitive. In the spirit of the event he opted to walk the rest of the course finishing well down the order but having had an adventure as the organisers had promised.
Lizzie Hawker at the awards ceromony
There are three others events in the UTMB festival of ultra running. The longest is the PTL or La Petite Trotte a Leon. This multi day experience for teams packs in 290km and 22,000m of climbing. They'd been blessed with good conditions earlier in the week but this weekends weather system had laid down 40cm of snow at the Col de la Seine. Thinking outside the box a herd of cows were driven over the pass to create a track for a few of the teams!
Dawa Sherpa facing the press
Tofol Bernat (in white) leading the CCC field through Courmayeur
The CCC (Courmayeur - Champex - Chamonix) race featured many of the North Face UK Sales and PR team putting minds, bodies and kit to the test. The climb over the Col Grand Ferret in deep snow in very cold but windless conditions was certainly a memorable challenge. The course had been slightly shortened missing out the first and last climbs but this doesn't detract from the herculean effort of Tofol Bernat who raced back to Chamonix in under nine hours. His reward - the amazing experience of rounding the final corner and coming face to face with the whole UTMB field cheering him home, something that even twenty four hours later left him visibly moved.
A amazing event to be part of and it may have planted a small seed in my mind! Huge thanks to the team at North Face for the invitation to follow Jez Bragg and for a very memorable night out in the rain watching thousands of runners go through the experience of the UTMB. I hope the ladies at Geneva airport who were having a little competition counting the blue gillets, which were awarded to all finishers, realise what they really mean to thousands of runners.