Rickey Gates November 18, 2011 TWEET COMMENTS 0

The UTMB Fun Run

The mid-race cancellation of the 2010 UTMB had runners scrambling for cover from the storm, for beer and for the start of the next day's consolation race. But did it count? ...

Photo by David Clifford

In a cool bar of ubiquitous wood, ambient sunlight pored in through the windows, providing the sole source of the mid-day light and heat. Geoff Roes sat before his beer and watched the bubbles rise from the bottom of the glass. Including the bartender, we were three in the bar. Outside, on Chamonix, France's cobblestone Rue Vallot, it was unseasonably hot for the beginning of autumn and the throng of spandex-clad ultrarunners and their supporters made it feel even hotter. The French filled the outdoor seating to capacity, basking like sunflowers with faces directed toward the heavens.

"The past week has been nice and calm," said Roes, looking up from his beer. The recent winner and course-record holder of North America's undisputed ultrarunning championship event, the Western States 100, talked with a metallic calmness that can't be faked with a man of his intensity. He looked outside at the stark contrast to the statement he just made: the mid-afternoon bustle of market goers, product promoters, tourists and athletes, then returned to his beer.

With only 27 hours remaining before the start of the eighth edition of the 166-kilometer (104-mile) Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB), Roes had declined my invitation for a short run and opted instead for a beer. This is a man, I thought, who knows when the hay is in the barn.


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