Outrun the Sun – a team relay around Mt Blanc
Would it be possible to run around Mt Blanc, 152 km between sunrise and sunset? It’s definitely worth a try, said Asics European Marketing manager Michael Price when Asics Trail Team Manager Laurent Ardito proposed the challenge. 18 months later the event took place in Chamonix, France on June 21, the longest day of the year. 2 teams of Asics runners toed the start line in front of the Casino in the heart of Chamonix, the classic mountain sport city on the french side of the Mont Blanc massive. “Team Ultra-Trail” consisted of 4+1 runners: Japanese elite runner Kota Araki, French Xavier Thevenard (winner of UTMB 2013), Swedish Jonas Buud (not Budd) – 7 time winner of Swiss Alpine Marathon, French Thomas Lorblanchet (winner of Leadville 100) and substitute French
Emmanuel Gault (winner of CCC) – all experienced ultra-trail runners. “Team Enduro” consisted of 7 runners: road runner Iazaldir Feitoza (Brasil), mountain runner & ski mountaineer Genis Zapater (Spain), trail runner Sylvaine Cussot (France), road runner Gert Theunis (Belgium), road runner turned trail runner Holly Rush (GB), 1500m runner Lukas Naegele (Germany) and trail runner Megan Kimmel (US).
From the start at 5am the teams had 15 hours, 41 minutes and 35 seconds to circumnavigate the TMB trail which had been shortened to 152 km due to safety measures. But it still offered +9450m of climbing, so the runners had to work hard to pull it off in the very hot and sunny conditions, reaching 28°C. In Courmayeur “Team Ultra-Trail” had built up an advantage and could eventually finish the loop 45 minutes ahead of schedule. But for “Team Enduro” it would be tight to manage.
Even though Megan Kimmel, who started the last stage 6 minutes behind schedule, put in an impressive performance, her team missed the time limit with just 30 seconds. Nobody said it would be easy though. And if only Genis Zapater hadn’t stopped and helped the goat that was stuck in a fence they would have made it. However, he proved one important point: mountain running isn’t only about running performance, it’s about living and loving, it’s about being connected with nature. “For me running is about being in the mountains”, said Zapater, who claims he doesn’t even own a pair of road running shoes. Even though his team missed the time limit with a ridiculous small margin he and his team mates went on to celebrate having run together around the biggest mountain in Europe. Maybe they will get another attempt in the future. And I presume many trail runners from all around will be intrigued to run and race against the sun in a similar way, solo daily stage running or racing as a team. Many Thanks to Asics and Chamonix for a great event. Read more