Words by Sarah Barker
So, the knee’s acting up again, or there was that frantic spot at work such that your training was reduced to the round-trip hike between desk and water cooler, and, well, you’re a bit unsure of your fitness. And particularly as it applies to the (ridiculously scenic) 116K of Ultra Tour Monte Rosa. It’s something to think about, isn’t it?
Before you cross into overthinking territory, we’d like to share this pep talk from happy finisher of the 2015 staged edition of UTMR, Wendy Dodd:
“A good point…was that with few exceptions the race was an achievable goal for most entrants. As you know some of the ‘tough’ race organisers pride themselves on a high number of drop-outs, equating this with the ‘quality’ of the race. But to have a race over the TMR with a completion [rate] of 105/118 is exceptional… The stage race and the small numbers made it more enjoyable for me. I think it is a far more scenic route than UTMB [Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc] and I have already got a number of friends interested in it for next year!”
Wow, thanks for that Wendy! Like to point out that completion rate again—105 of 118 people, some of whose knees were not 100 percent during training, took the challenge and are glad they did. There’s something to think about.
RunWithMe creator, editor, and chief bottle washer Ari Veltman signed up for last year’s zero edition UTMR less than a month prior to the event. I recently asked him to share some of his memories, and he pointed me to his Facebook review that starts out, “I have not been asked to write this, and actually the organizers have no idea that this is coming.”
Please note the date on that post is August 26, 2015. So you can read Ari’s completely unsolicited review at the link here, as well as his thoughts that were, in fact, solicited and like a sort of good wine, have aged about 9 months.
“One of the things that captured my attention immediately was Lizzy’s responsiveness and care.
I only found out about the event less than a month before the start, and sent an email through the website to see if it might be still relevant. Someone named Lizzy (I had no idea who she was at the time) answered very quickly, and in the following days was super responsive and helpful. Knowing that someone is there and cares was the first very strong green light I got – and I just knew it was going to be a great event.
If there is one thing that made a deep lasting impression on me, it would be the volunteers.
I have been to a number of races around the world, and the volunteers in UTMR — both locals and runners that came over to participate as volunteers — really made a huge difference. They really cared, and encouraged in a way I did not have the chance to witness in other events. It made the event really special for me. I was actually so thankful for the way they supported and cheered for us that, following the event, I decided I wanted to give back, and participated as a volunteer myself for the first time at the Mount Fuji race.
Food! I just loved the food at the aid stations
It can make such a big difference. I specifically remember making a huge stop at the mid-point aid station of the second day (or was it the third day?). I arrived at this small town in the mountains, and there was this huge buffet table – full of local cheese and ham, sweets and cakes of all sorts. I remember I stopped there for more than 30 minutes, took my time, made sandwiches, had some tea, and made sure I sampled every cake that was there. Took me a while to start running again after that …
The views in UTMR are really amazing
The fact that a course in the Alps has nice views is not a surprise, but I remember being quite amazed that the views kept changing so rapidly, and you kept finding out new amazing views after each turn. This is why when I got lost on the first day, and added another couple of hours to my running I was very happy, thinking I had the chance to get some extra views in for my money. The whole area is just that beautiful, that you are happy to get lost and get a few extra miles in.”