The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®

The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc and Beyond...

This year was my third time competing in the The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc race and I was thrilled to maintain a 100% record of finishes. The euphoria from taking part in, and completing, this epic endurance challenge certainly doesn’t lessen year-on-year. In fact, it’s probably the opposite. If there is one thing the The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc doesn’t do, it’s stand still. The bar rises each year in terms of distance, ascent/ descent and prestige surrounding the event - this year was certainly no let down.

There was a fabulous buzz around Chamonix in the days leading up to the race. For the runners it was a culmination of probably 8 months of focused training so inevitably tension and nerves were high. But as ever the alpine feel-good factor gets hold of everyone and ensures that a sense of perspective is maintained, as well as a great big smile.

My strongest memory of this year’s race will be of the near-perfect alpine weather that provided spectacular, ever changing, views at every turn. Whilst the sunshine and daytime heat gradually sapped my energy over the course of the race, at the same time the picture-perfect views of some of Europe’s finest mountain scenery helped to rekindle my strength, motivation and drive to keep going. During the inevitable highs and lows of such a race I had just one goal in mind; to run every inch of trail to reach the end. This race is not just about endurance, it’s about running with your heart and soul to achieve an ultimate goal.

Time-wise, the race was a disappointment for me. But I know why, and I know that I can be better next time. I lacked full strength from the start due a food poisoning bug which has remained in my system since early in the summer. I did hope for better than my final position of 38th, but I ran well considering the circumstances, and am fit to fight another day.

The bug is now gone – perhaps it’s a body cleansing race too – so I am now training hard for my next goal, the 100km World Cup and European Championships (combined/ road) taking place in Italy in November where I will represent Great Britain for the second time. My training focus is on refining my endurance – training to run faster to compete against the best in the world at a wholly different discipline. The next challenge begins.

- Jez Bragg

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