Read Sydney’s previous entry: Preparing for the Race Ahead.
“The blisters are gone. The swelling has subsided. The chaffing has healed. Yet the race still feels like yesterday. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever set out to do, and equally, the most beautiful and fulfilling. At 5:30 pm (Chamonix time) on August 29, in a downpour of rain, the gun went off and Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) began.
Darkness set in about 3 hours in, and I welcomed it. Seeing how steep and long the climbs and descents were in daylight was pretty daunting, especially when I had 90 more miles to cover. I ran into my friend Jason at about mile 27 or so, and we spent roughly the next five hours together on long climb to Bonhomme. Around mile 45, the sun started coming up on the descent to Courmayeur, Italy. The view was tremendous. That descent was one of the steepest I’ve ever experienced ̶ I had zero snap in my legs, and was feeling a little low. This was until I saw my crew ̶ my mom, fiancé and friends were there to greet me. I left feeling uplifted and ready for the climb ahead.
Having been through 8 hours of rain, my feet were a wreck. My skin started separating from my feet, sticking to my socks. Thank God Icebreaker socks dry so quickly; it could have been a lot worse. By mile 70, I realized that investing 30 minutes in the med tent to have all my blisters lanced and taped would be the best thing for me. No French was needed in that med tent; I pulled off my shoes and socks, and those med tent volunteers knew my feet were in trouble. Before I knew it, I was having things cut open and injected into, and taped up. Then socks went back on, shoes were laced, and off I went.
Leaving Champex, the last 3 climbs and descents of the race were ahead of me. Descending was as painful (if not more so) than climbing, especially at this point in the race. Night came again, and it got cold. This was the first time I’d ever run through two nights. It was the first time I’d been awake for 40+ hours, the first time I’d done a 100 mile race with no pacer. I felt nervous. Those last 3 climbs were crushing, the last one in particular. Not just because it was at mile 93, but because it was so incredibly steep, foggy, misty, and we had to use our hands on the rocks to just get up the climb. I remember sitting down on a rock to choke down one more PayDay candy bar, my mouth so dry that with every chew, dry peanuts crumbled out of my mouth. Finally it was time to descend. The last 7k of the race was straight down a very rugged trail into Chamonix. I was in no shape to run at that point, I was just trying to power walk without further aggravating the all-over chafe. With about 3k to go, I could hear and see the town. Finally, I saw my mom standing at the bottom of one of the descents, and I knew I couldn’t be too far from the end. My fiancé, Michael, accompanied me on the last K (see pic above).
Thank you to you all who followed along, and cheered from afar. If you’ve ever considered a trail race of any distance, give it a go. You’ll find the friendliest, most compassionate group of people one could hope for.”
- Sydney Pitt, Icebreaker Account Manager
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