Wow! What an incredible week. I don’t think I have ever been so proud of a group of my peers as throughout this truly gruelling week. On Tuesday the 3rd of July, we, a group of 8 experienced and inexperienced trail runners, set out for Les Houches: a town just south of Chamonix in the shadow of the Mont Blanc massif. The challenge ahead of us was huge: nearly half of the team we set out with was injured before the trip had even begun and exams had decimated many-a-runner’s mileage. Expectations for the performance of the team were not exactly sky high. But alas, every member absolutely smashed it.
Alumna Leanne Lyons was so injured before the trip that she was looking to sell her ticket. To say that she turned it around is such an understatement: she had the highest mileage of the group on this trip owing to her being the only one to do the two person mountainous marathon relay ‘Montagn’Hard’ on her own. She came in 13th woman overall in a field of hardened mountain goatesses who have lived and trained in the high mountains much of their lives. Bear in mind, this is after putting in huge efforts in the previous days on runs to Lac Vert, Mont Joly and the Chamonix Vertical KM.
Charlotte Barratt, a trail running novice, was a late entry to the trip having bought a ticket just a few days before the trip began. Expectations were modest. But how wrong those expectations were: about midway through the week she began to be known as ‘Charlotte 2.0’ due to her strong ascending and truly trail-regular-like descending on all the aforementioned runs and the subsequent ascents to Lac Blanc and Tete de la Tronche. As Women’s Captain next year, we hope some of the love for trail that she showed will rub off on some of her female teammates.
Heinrich Hummel, the brains and organisational juggernaut behind the trip, was his usual indomitable self. Not the lightest of fellows, he was one of the first up most mountains and showed us some of the fearless descending that he is now known for on the downhills. He and I were the third team on the podium at the ‘Montagn’Hard’ marathon relay mid-way through the week, even after the gnarly start to the week and having both set sub-hour times on the Vertical KM the previous day. Despite smashing all of the runs that week, he still had the energy to haul me and himself up to the top of Mont Blanc, starting and finishing in Les Houches giving a total ascent and descent of 4000m. For anyone running in London, this vertical gain would be a good effort for a season of running. Heinrich also performed the invaluable duty of car driver alongside Henry Maynard.
Henry Maynard put in a valiant effort throughout the trip as one of the previously injured members. It is good to know that he is human, as he had to take a couple of rest days after pain defying efforts on the Lac Vert and Mont Joly runs. He would return for the Tete de la Tronche run on the Italian side, but not before performing the indispensable role of chief supporter at the Montagn’Hard relay and driving people to and from the runs. I would like to thank Henry for his selfless efforts throughout the week, and especially when his wings were clipped.
Luis MunozHeinen, a convert from triathlon, was a welcome addition to our trail running family. Always on the lookout for a scandal, he was remarkably consistent throughout the week and completed the whole lot without a blip. Usually one of the first to the top, he smashed the Vertical KM in around 63 minutes, a stunning time in the middle of a huge week. Matthew Hoare and Remy Shaieb, trail running regulars this year, were also massively consistent this week. Both joined me on the first leg of 27km/2200mVert at the Montagn’Hard relay, putting their teams well up in the field of mountain goats. Both were also key in the organisation of this trip, a plan hatched in a pub in Snowdon at the start of the year.
Man, that article was flipping long. I just still can’t believe how well the trip went. Everybody outdid themselves on the trail, and back off the mountain the admin was executed so silkily that the trip ran like a dream. What a way to end the year as Trail Captain.
ICXC Trail Captain 17-18.