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!!!"
Click the button for the movie...........