I first heard about the UTMB back in 2014 after watching a 13 minute video put out by The North Face entitled “Curiosity” which follows a few of its sponsored athletes and their journeys both leading up to and throughout the race. It was a race I always kept in the back of my mind afterwards, on the “Life Goal List”. I didn’t really think I was ever going to be capable of taking on that caliber of a race, but Chamonix looked beautiful and maybe next year, maybe some day, maybe when I’m in better shape…
After I turned 30 this past year, it finally hit me: what the heck am I waiting for?!
The goal: Qualify for and run the CCC (Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix), one of the races in the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc series, which is part of the Ultra Trail World Tour.
The Qualification Races: TBD. In order to qualify, one must acquire 8 points in no more than two qualifying races. Races must be UTMB certified (similar to Boston Marathon qualifiers). The number of points awarded to each race event and each distance within the event are based on difficulty (i.e. the harder/longer the race, the more points it is worth). “Difficulty” is kind of subjective, since it’s not only the distance they consider, but also the terrain; elevation gain and loss, cutoff times, etc. factor into a race’s point value as well.
To accumulate 8 points in two races, I will have to finish races with the following point values:
- 4 + 4
- 5 + 3
- 6 + 2
Most of the races worth 6 points are 100 milers. The farthest I’ve ever run is a 50K, so my target races are in the 4 point range, since those are in the range of 50M-100K. (If you have any race suggestions, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!)
Training for Qualification Races: Run miles on trails. Lots of them. And since the ultimate goal – the CCC – is a mountain race (hello, Alps!), the training will also target mountain traverses to not only get me in shape for the elevation change, but to also put some notches in my belt in these extreme environments. The CCC will be equal parts mental and physical in terms of the challenges it presents to runners. I aim to be as prepared as I can be!
“Training for Training” (a phrase my fiancé uses in reference to getting in shape before actually being able to legitimately train): It’s been over a year since I’ve run any races, so I registered for a few Spring half marathons to get my butt back in gear. The first – the Cape Cod Trail Half Marathon – is in early April in Falmouth, MA. The next one is a month afterwards in New York: TNF Endurance Challenge at Bear Mountain.
Afterwards, there are several mountain traverses I plan to do this year, hopefully completely one each month. The list:
- Devil’s Path in the Catskills, NY: May
- Pemigewasset Loop in the Pemigewasset Wilderness, NH: June
- Presidential Range traverse in the White Mountains, NH: July
- Great Range traverse in the Adirondacks, NY: Septemeber
I’m also registered for the Ragnar Ultra in Vermont in August. For me, this entire undertaking is ambitious, scary, but also really invigorating and exciting! It’s going to require me to balance my outlook on both the big, overall goal with the task in front of me on each run. As long as I can stay healthy, I think all of this is achievable assuming that I can keep my head on straight and get out of my own way. I have a tendency to let things bottle up and to push things aside and “deal with it later”. This process is going to force me to face some things head on and get real with myself if I’m going to keep it together and come out on the other side. One step at a time…
*Disclaimers: Feature photo is from Getty Images©. I am not sponsored by The North Face®.