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Breathing in the forest air, my heartbeat and footfall are settling into rhythm as I climb the trail... The autumnal canopy is scattering bronze, copper and golden jewels like a carpet beneath my feet. Ducking under a spiderweb laced with diamonds of morning dew, I see the stag as he scampers deeper into the forest.... My muscles and heart are pumped as I push up and out of the tree line and onto the ridge. Climbing up onto the top of the world, and a panorama I silently soak in. A buzzard lazily flaps away from the cairn. Now the fun begins as I run down the trail, twisting, turning, feeling every contour of the earth beneath the soles of my feet. A log to jump, a branch I scoop under, my feet going quicker, quicker, dancing down into the tree line as a fox darts across my path.... This blog is based on tales of my trail and ultra running exploits. Enjoy!!!

Friday, 31 August 2012

CCC

These were mountains like I had never seen before, reaching into the sky... Massif Du Mont Blanc. I was taking part in a 60 mile footrace passing through the Italian, Swiss and French Alps on the Tour Du Mont Blanc. The race was the CCC. Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix.

First, through the mountain tunnel by bus to Courmayeur, Italy where our race starts... The town is vibrant and buzzing with runners and supporters and the sun is shining. I'm excited and raring to go....

Music fills the already dizzy atmosphere and then the tannoy counts us down to the start, and we are away....


Streets lined with drummers, children with cow bells and cheering faces. Gradually the sounds diminish into just the footsteps and breathing of a long single stream of athletes climbing up the forest trail. Climb climb climb, eventually we reach Refuge Bonatti where we find warm smiles, cheers and nourishment.

Onwards we contour the vast mountains as the weather turns to howling winds bearing rain and snow.



Souls are frantically pulling on waterproofs, zipping up and trying to keep moving, as nature shows her force. 



We hit a long steep descent, distant cow bells getting louder and louder as we reach the aid station at Arnuva. 
Delicious food, fill my senses to overload. Then hush again, my steps, one after another take me through the elements and aid stations and into Switzerland.

Down into Praz de Fort where I see chalets in beautiful green meadows, children voices echoing across the valley. Children cycle alongside and give me high fives before I leave the idyllic scene to push up another woodland climb.



My legs are tiring now but I have so far to go. I hear the cow bells getting louder once more and I run the last climb to Champex. A Swiss town high up in the mountains where my senses once again become flooded with such beautiful local food and the buzz of hundreds of runners. I gratefully grab handfuls and quickly push on. 

I'm blissfully unaware that I am overtaking hundreds of runners at these aid stations at this time, though my friends back in England get updated with my placings each time I check in and out.


Now the long climb up to Bovine, huge rocks to boulder, and so steep as darkness drops its cloak over our little group of runners. I'm feeling stronger now I make time, playing cat and mouse with a French guy, we climb the mountain and the rankings. 
I'm running the flats now.... Wide eyed cows, black as the night with horns close enough to touch, adorned with bells, line my path as I run through the deep snow to Bovine aid station. I re-fuel with hot soup, cheeses and meat... then I'm away, down down down the dark slippery trails. I'm aware of great drops into nothingness on the edge of the trail. I'm tired, but I must focus... I have a five year old son at home. I must, above all be safe.

Down to Trient and I'm feeling strong again, the soup warmed me from the inside, the salts gratefully taken into my bloodstream. I pass runners who are tiring, we are on the home stretch now...
I keep thinking of my son, I am wet through and muddy but I must keep running, I must keep warm. My spirits once again are lifted by the faces and throng of the aid stations in Vallorcine and then Argentiere. "Allez allez allez Emily!!!" 

I run into Chamonix alone, every so often I pass a tired athlete walking the final miles, but I do all I can to run and as I join the mystical glacial river that flows though the heart of Chamonix, I know I have done it... I follow its banks to the centre and run under the finishing arch. I have covered 54miles, climbed over 17,000ft and am in the top 20% of the women, I am over the moon :-)

Click the button for the movie...........

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