A Trail Running Team Alpine Adventure Part One:
The gentle sound of distant cowbells drifts around the valley as we weave up and down through the trees on this rolling alpine trail. It’s flat we are told by our guide, Julia… Bursting lungs and crying legs suggest otherwise. Alpine Flat, Julia finally informs us, is slightly different to British flat, it’s actually rather steady uphill. And the hills around these parts can go on for miles…
There are seven of us, plus Julia, running through the Chamonix Valley, following our dreams and the route of the Mont Blanc Marathon Route. We are the Trail Running Team and we are here to test our new Mammut Team Kit and to sample the delights of the Alpine Trails.
We started early, buzzing alarms waking us at 6am… The trails started out easy, but quickly got steeper, so we are grateful when the village of La Lavancher is reached after only a few miles. We replenish water supplies and meet up with Roy the team Photographer. Any excuse for a wee break. But soon we are running again, passing through Alpine meadows with cows grazing, villages where we stop and fill water bottles from troughs, through woods and over rivers.
We move quickly through the mountains, mostly climbing, but at a pace we can talk. Most of the time, at a steady run, but we would drop to a fast walk when flat became uphill and we kick on the downs. The banter flows freely; races done, races planned, views on kit, life, living, reasons for running, training and injuries. The air is clean and crisp and yet despite being at over 1300 metres, it seems easy to breath, it is a joy to run…
Another meeting with Roy for some more photographs and then the climbing started for real. As we climbed a stile, Roy asked me to run uphill whilst Julie filmed, I thought I had heard wrong, but kicked out anyway, before quickly pulling my poles from my pack. We climb higher, sweat pouring from us in the increasing midday heat… But the views are on another level as Mont Blanc peeps from behind the clouds and watches over us as we run in her shadow.
We climb upwards, over what in the winter would be a ski run. Today there is no snow, and path provides the quickest way to the top. Finally we run along a narrow ridge to the summit of L’Aguillette des Posettes where we stop for much needed lunch. Quiche is washed down with TORQ Energy, fuelling the brain for the descent that is to come.
What goes up, must come down… An Alpine Dream, a Mountain Runners Paradise… a 1000 metre descent, twisting and turning down the mountain side, dropping over rocks, always losing hight. We regroup often and discuss techniques, ways to make us faster, safer and smoother. We pass Roy and Julie, who repeatedly race ahead to get images of us as we skip down the mountain side.
Eventually we reach the bottom, and in true Alpine style find a small cafe, serving cake and strong coffee to replenish some of the calories we have just burnt. And then it’s just a matter of a 10km jog back in to Chamonix in time for a beer, French cuisine and a much a needed bed.