Mont Blanc Marathon
One of the hardest marathons in the world, the route takes a spectacular tour of the valley with over 2500m ascent and 1500m descent.
I took the coward’s option and went to take in the atmosphere with the help of a lift pass and a borrowed dog, hoping to support my braver friends on their way.
The start is at 7am in Chamonix, and has a legendary atmosphere, but with thousands of runners, I thought my chances of seeing anyone were minimal, so I decided to go and watch them at the bridge behind the chalet. At ten past seven, the faint thunder of thousands of feet could be heard coming towards us, and leading the pack were a team with a single-wheeled wheelchair with four handles – I assumed this was a ceremonial role as it didn’t occur to me that they were going to even try to get it round the course.
The bright stream of runners poured past, it was great to see friends waving and smiling! I was standing next to a lovely gentleman called Robert, who clearly knew most of Chamonix – we both had cowbells to bang as more and more runners flew past. Though most were in full trail running gear, some brave souls were even in fancy dress – I saw a Roman centurion and three cows….with the temperature forecast to be 29, I didn’t envy them.
The runners take in a brutal climb to the Aiguillette des Posettes at the very top of the valley before coming back to Flegere where the level Grand Balcon Sud must be welcome to the legs.
The path winds along the south side of the valley
This is still early so only a few runners are on the course here – I saw the first woman go past looking very strong. Luckily we can wait in the shade for them to pass.
The view is wonderful, but it’s starting to get hot now
These guys were singing songs to encourage everyone and working their names into all the songs – they were there for hours and cheered many a tired runner
There’s a short, welcome descent here, but the heat is starting to get very strong and there’s no shade at all
The level meadow is the last relief before the killer climb to the finish starts
The uphill finish is one of the toughest pieces of running I’ve ever seen anyone have to do – and I was astonished to see the wheelchair teams – they had a huge raft of cheers from everyone – what an achievement! I saw several friends on this section, pushing bravely on through the heat – they all made it!
Finally the relief of the finish!
An amazing day and huge respect to all that took part!