|ULTRA TRAIL MOUNTE ROSA|
Bold, Beautiful, Brutal
Standing in a relatively small group of ultra runners on a beautiful sunny morning, waiting for the race to start, I thought of my last words with my 13 year old daughter..."what will you do if you feel you can't go on mom?" I responded, "I'll take one step at a time and keep moving forward." There was excitement but most of the runners I chatted with really had no idea what to expect.
UTMR is a new race. This was the first official year. I knew I was in for a challenge, in 116km, there was +8300 meters of climbing. The average altitude was 6500 feet. The race is set-up in a U-shape, taking runners up and over high mountain passes down into valleys through small towns in the valleys to finish in Grachen Switzerland.
The race started smoothly up and over the top of the first peak and down rocky single track to a small village. The Matterhorn towered over us on the left side. I felt good on the first couple climbs, except the top 1/3, I was feeling a bit lightheaded and winded with the altitude. The top third of the climbs were above the tree line. The trails were rocky, steep and technical. My ears popped with each descent and my breathing became easier. The weather was beautiful, sunny, high 20's. My family was waiting in Gressoney the 2nd aid station. I arrived at 3:00pm, I'd been running for 5 hours and covered 28km.... I got to see my family one more time at the next station, Alagna. I arrived at 7:00pm, which means I would start by biggest climb in the day light.
By the time I reached the bottom and ran into the first aid station in Switerzland the sun had come up. I had about 20k to go and the profile didn't look to bad. I was optimistic until the aid station worker told me most people found this section the most difficult. This section proved to be my test, I could see beautiful, groomed runnable trails, but not for UTMR. We were sent up another "deer trail" to a traverse across the mountain, the trail was sloped with the occasional rock ladder to ascend/descend. The final obstacle was crossing a rock slide. I could see the orange markers across 30m of steep rock. The rock was spray painted, I guess to suggest a route. It was steep, I could't look to the right without getting the feeling I was on edge of a high diving board (and since getting older I don't like heights). I had to get across. "One step at a time".
Reaching the final aid station brought tears to my eyes. I had one more decent to Grachen. My legs, feet, and back hurt but I knew I was there. I finished in 26:30 fourth female and 22 overall.