UTMB – The Weather Strikes Back

It’s a couple of hours to go before the (probable) start of the UTMB, and the weather is on everyone’s mind. Since arriving in Chamonix it has been raining on and off pretty much all the time. The ominous weather forecasts were being fulfilled.

The TDS started yesterday in Courmayour in Italy, with the first runner arriving to the finish in Chamonix late last night. Apparently at least 500 had retired on route, presumably with the weather accounting for most of this. Adrian Tucker finished this morning having taken a little over 24 hour to complete it. Adrian has now completed all 4 of the events in the UTMB running festival. Big congrats to Adrian! Paul Tierney reported that the TDS finishers he saw this morning looked in a bad way. But then, its a big ultrarun, so that’s not exactly unexpected. So many runners are requiring transport to the finish that some of the supporters buses are no longer available to the supporters to get back for the moment.

Barry Murray left “Team Ireland”‘s shared apartment early this morning to start the CCC. The course had already been altered to take out the first and last climbs due to the very poor conditions above 2000m. It would’t surprise me at all if the course is further modified through the day.

The big news, from my own point of view, is the the conditions have resulted in the UTMB itself being completely changed. It has been re-routed to only be in France and shortened down to 100km. Very few people will be glad to hear this. Apparently the passes higher than 2000m are too treacherous in the current weather. The race is still due to start at about 7 this evening.

The shortening of the course will not suit me at all. It changes the whole dynamic of the race, and the type of racer that is likely to do well. It’s now more of a speedster’s event than an endurance runner’s event. 100km specialists like Jez Bragg should do much better as a result of this. In the case of the Irish runners it will probably suit Dan Doherty more than the rest of us, given his blistering 100km speed (He has just arrived into Team Ireland HQ and laughed at that).

All sorts of rumours are doing the rounds about people pulling out of the race and the race being re-timed to start tomorrow morning. Time will tell.

The main thing that suits me in all of this chaos is that I should cope better than most with bad weather. Years of training in the rubbish Irish weather has to have some beneficial result! I also have a fantastic range of gear which is exactly what is required fro moving at speed in bad conditions. More about the gear later….

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