The UTMB Fun Run - Page 7
The organizers were quick to pat themselves on the back for organizing a second race in just over four hours. When asked why they did not have an alternative in place from the beginning (most especially since the forecast predicted "apocalyptic" weather over five days in advance), Poletti replied, "Quite simply because there isn't one. You cannot claim to have done the Tour du Mont Blanc if you do not pass by the Col du Bonhomme or the Col de la Seigne, for example."
Contradicting herself, she continued, "Strictly speaking, there is no fallback course for the Tour du Mont Blanc." When asked why they sent out text messages rather than posting the information on their website, she maintained that the cell phone was a required piece of equipment in every athlete's pack and therefore the best form of communication.
North Face athlete, Mike Wolfe, admits that he would not have been notified if it were not for his North Face sponsorship. "They (his North Face sponsors) called my room at 8 a.m. and I had to be on the bus by 8:20," he said.
Rushing out of the lobby and into the street, Clifford and I ran into Kilian loading last of his belongings into his car. He managed to convince only Heras to join him for the five hour drive into Italy for the marathon the following day (where they came in first and second respectively).
Following the rapid inhalation of espressos and croissants, David and I bid the two good luck and made for the Col de Montes—a pass near the boarder of France and Switzerland, 12 miles from the finish line, where the lead runners would arrive within the hour. From there, they would climb a final 2500 feet before making the long descent back to Chamonix. En route, we learned that the winner of the inaugural UTMB and perennial favorite, Dawa Sherpa, of Nepal had led for much of the first half but was losing places rapidly. Hawker, as most had suspected, was leading the women's race, unchallenged.
When we arrived at Col du Montes, 10 hours into the abbreviated race, British runner Jez Bragg maintained a five-minute lead on Wolfe. Sherpa, now in ninth place and dropping, had been reduced to walking. With his hands clasped behind his back and his gaze directed at the trail ahead he took on the likeness of a monk contemplating something profound. Walking behind him, I dared interrupt his meditation to ask if he was annoyed at the turn of events—running 20 miles in the cold rain, being pulled from the course, then, 12 hours later with little to no sleep, setting off for another 55 miles. He looked back at me and smiled calmly. "This, too, is part of the race," he said and carried on.