Récit de la course : Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc 2008, par akunamatata

L'auteur : akunamatata

La course : Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc

Date : 29/8/2008

Lieu : Chamonix Mont Blanc (Haute-Savoie)

Affichage : 2949 vues

Distance : 163km

Objectif : Pas d'objectif

6 commentaires

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the shadow of beauty, the friendship, wonderland and the shrike thorn tree

 Aloha ami(e)s traileurs,


  Version Francaise de ce coté ci

  1. Introduction
  2. Wonderland (Miss Fouly)
  3.  the Friendship
  4. the Shrike thorn tree
  5. the shadow of beauty

Here I am, back again in Chamonix, standing and glaring at the starting line. Shooting pictures among the other Medias of the so called elite athlete. I feel a little awkward in this situation as I hold a tiny camera compared to the
other professional photograph gears. I am no free lance,just a guy with a thing for landscape beauty, photos and friendship.

UTMB 2008 (55)

UTMB 2008 (66)

UTMB 2008 (67)UTMB 2008 (68)

 I really do not know if I should consider it as a race. Elite guys could say that in a way, however even the top notched racers admit the special atmosphere of respect mixed with friendliness around the competition spirit. In addition, I would rather say, 166 km around the mount blanc, crossing three countries, climbing more than 9500 meters height constitute a challenging journey...

You bet ! How could I imagine at this very moment I will explore such opposite, but enmeshed, realms in a single
race ? I am not talking about geography...but the underlying sentiments that surface up during extraordinary
conditions: let me introduce the shadow of beauty, the friendship, wonderland and the shrike thorn tree.

First of all, the ultra trail of mont blanc race is considered as the outdoor racer's
Mecca. Something that we desire for its legend (10% finishers on the first edition five years ago) and despise for its inevitable business oriented craze. I could say that I enjoy the loneliness ride in the calanques near Marseille, conversely my presence here paricipate to this craze. UFO magazine (specialized in ultrarace i.e beyond the marathon distance) granted me a press badge to cover the event as a runner-photographer. Quite a good spot to live the event back and frontstage. Therefore my focus is oriented inside-out the race, however could this posture represent a drag or an advantage? Could I have both? Like an electron jealously hiding behind a quantic cloud, knowing that no physicist could ever define its position and speed simultaneously, the race will alternate the inside and outside phase of my consciousness...until ?



Chapter Miss Delirium or Wonderland

 Gooood morning Mont Blannnnc !

 Where did the meeting start ? Nearby the « col de la Seigne » after a cloudless night, or after the pit stop of « La Fouly » when all cats are grey in the dark? Back from the Delirium realm, I can see and talk as one again. No more need of an inner democratic parliament expressing several parallel ways of thinking.

 Like a fragile ship gliding on a calm and flat lake under a perfect blue sky, I can easily manage to dive in and out from the liquid/air interface of my perception. The sky embodies my openess to the outside world, useful to inspire my pictures shooting obsession and my quest for mindblowing landscapes. Underwater universe should embody my focussing on the inner world (i.e. body feedback, sensations..)

 Man usually says: the first night is physical, the second is ... metaphysical. Around La Fouly pit stop (sounds like « crazy » in french), it began...But I will notice it way after...

 Finished, extinguished, done my source of beauty, now comes the night. Under my headlamp beam, colors are fading away. I am not alone though in my ship, two pals Stephen and Vince would be eventually my anchors to the outside world. Phew, the duality seems to be safe! Alas, Miss Delirium has a more complex point of view than my stereotyped black and white motto. If the lady was a dance, it would be definitely a waltz or maybe a whirling derviche for its pleasant vertigo.

 In Vince’s footstep, I am getting bored…the new path through the forest to the Fouly is wearing my patience thin. We are buzzing around without seeing any human soul or even civilizatioin traces. Even our chit chats seem to turn round and are slowly loosing its interest. My focus is distracted by the reflecting shoes stripes of Vince. These one draw complex luminous arabesques, my eyes, literally, could not focus anymore. I am just mesmerized by this improvised ballet.

I would like so much closing my eyes, going back to this calm lake, flat and orderly. Though, I would hate to let go my two companions, my reality anchors.

 Consequently, I maintain a minimum conscientiousness load in order to ease the processing data for an already worn out brain. Alas, the balance management center is the first to join the waltz. Despite the poles help, I notice my inablity to walk straight in the singletrack without constantly sticking my pole. I am clumsy on my left side, strangely my pals have the same syndrom (hard times to keep their balance on the left again, maybe turning counterclock around the Mont Blanc?).

 At this precise moment, I pray that something’s happening to shake me out from this torpor, this no brain’s land. The pit stop, people and sounds constitute fabulous islands that wake my lethargic senses up. Unfortunately, except the climb of Bovines with its diversified and playful path, I am fading away while I stagger like a drunk.

 Would it be the waltz of the lady Delirium that troubles the neat and polished lake of my conscientiousness? Her waves move my skiff. I am starting to mix the inside and outside, insidiously, without notice it.

 Before Trient, not long after the Forclaz Pass, I have to thanks the locals for their efforts to decorate the stones nearby our path. Even if the painted rocks seem to be drawn by children (flowers, bike, people described in a rupestrian way), I really appreciate it. During the descent, I was showering the haut-savoyard local tourist intelligence with my praise. It was so refreshing, this blow me away, everthing is so nice…

 Besides, I totally forgot to share my feelings with my anchors, so marveled by the view. In return, I have a slight criticism for the stunning amount of painted rocks. What a tremendous work! I hope the teacher was not too adamant and did not impose too much workload on the chidren class. Therefore, I am no more asleep, on the contrary I feel invigorate, again anything seems so pleasant…

 Hmm? An obstacle in the middle of the single track, this not a stone like I guess at first glance, but a (Christ Child's) crib with its yellow personnage and red animal statuettes. The crib is so detailed, made with an almost insane thouroughness. And I saw only a glimpse of it during a fraction of a second….

 Hello Miss Delirium! You should have spared me this last view, I would have loved to spend a little more time in wonderland. Trying to make me believe a colorful crib the night…Tssss tsss!

 From now on, the hallucinations (ooooh, yeah, I get it..) …resume with renewed energy. Following this, I make a great deal of effort to focus on the fruits of my imagination. Like in a special effect movie, the dreamlike objects morph into its real nature. It is really extraordinary to be enabled to see through my imagination’s eyes. I will see these hallucinations even in broad daylight, and I was ok with that (unless these visions were not too close to reality, though this is another debate…)

 As far as these hallucinations are concerned, the weirdest thing was this mix of reality and dream that even pervades in the thought process (in addition to the seeing process). In my after race discussion, I have this disturbing split personnality (marveled child vs controlled adult). Some of you, present that day, witnessed this weird thing happening to me.

 Finally, I do not know if it was intelligible to speak with two voices, nevertheless retrospectively I had the rare feeling I had a wild creativity.

 Ah ! This second night around the Mont Blanc…Miss Delirium another waltz?


 Chapter the Friendship

I see friends shaking hands, they really say ... I want a piece of it! Papatrail, a knickname for a good friend of mine. This is the fourth time in a row that the highest european peak saw him quiting at its multiple feet.

Though I maybe reckless as a rookie this year: victory will be mine, I know it deep in my guts. If some of it recklessness or confidence) could pervade into papatrail's spirit, It would be worth trying it. We met up in Aubagne (Provence, France) and during our hikes following Pagnol's path, we did our due diligence and came up with a chiseled strategy. We are aiming at a fourty hours timeframe, knowing that the 46 hours barrier would not be a psychological issue at this pace. The other point focuses on our strenghts and weaknesses, we should be even during the ascent while Papatrail is nationally well-known for its unique descent skills. Hence, we decide to wait each other during the descent (let's say Papatrail will wait for me), we both know that this strategy could and would slow us down compared to a solitary race. Nevertheless, that is the objective, be each other the moral compass, at least during the first half of the way until Courmayeur (Piedmont,Italy). The first night out there should be cautious for many aspects such as body parts (not so much about the muscles but rather the digestive system) psyche and "modjo".

In order to recognize each other during the night (what's more anonymous than a runner in the dark with a headlamp?), we had a red backlight LED attached on our respective rucksack. Some of the runners even had a full LED line behind, making them looks like an illuminated christmas tree. Like every year the Columbus music hold our hearts just fine, Catherine Poletti the race director knows how to touch our spirit and feelings. For years, herself and her husband have been igniting the values that embodie now the trail spirit (fellowship, ecology, sportmanship and lastly competition). And now the "trailers" are marching on, like a river flowing in the streets of Chamonix, the crowd swaying in rythm with the loud music of Vangelis.
Friends are everywhere, in the mob applauding or behind me clapping my hands when they pass me. I am a little overwhelmed and confused as I lost track of Papatrail. Some glimpse of him through the dense running queue reassure me. The pace is easy and the mood is joyous due to the adrenaline peak.

I am a bit suprised by the track, a lot more macadam roads than expected. Anyway, I still have an eyeball on Papatrail despite the crowd. I am starting to warm up and take some interesting pics. Everyone is still running, even during the hilly parts. I don't want to rush it and don't hesitate to walk when my heartbeat cross a virtual boundary. How many of my colleagues will drop to  shambling trot or even a walk in a few hours ? The temperature is peaking at unusual values, leading to a dressing / undressing vaudeville. While I was wiping my wrist handkerchief across my brow, I really focus on my hydratation in these first hours, maintaining a steady 0,5 liter/hour.

Slowly the sunset rays leave the Mont Blanc summit on our left, and headlamps appear gradually among us. Now the faces of our neighbours will keep their mystery, no expression, no fear or joy, just the sound of their breath
and poles hitting the ground. The challenge of this first night is not too scary but you could well loose any chance to see Chamonix if you do not your due dilligence (hydration, steady pace, injuries...). The pit stop at Saint Gervais burst our bubble of darkness, colors, sound, people, it is like awakening to reality. We replenish the body and the mind in a big way, it is like "the tour de france", you gotta to try it once in your life! In between these oasis lies down the tunnel of hopes and thoughts.

6 commentaires

Commentaire de JLW posté le 25-09-2008 à 22:30:00

Did I click on the english button above ?

Akuna, it seems to me you can also speak some strange langage like they do around the White Mountain, isn't it ?

Waiting for some more pictures to come ...

Commentaire de Mustang posté le 25-09-2008 à 23:21:00

It's one crowned damned race, isn't!

Commentaire de ptijean posté le 26-09-2008 à 08:14:00

Comprend rien, heureusement, il y a les photos.
La suite en français ???

Commentaire de L'Castor Junior posté le 26-09-2008 à 08:33:00

"Like an electron jealously hiding behind a quantic cloud"
Bon, ça fait trois fois que l'electron se cache un peu trop bien derrière je ne sais quelle nuée quantique... Et comme le LHAC est en rade, il ne va pas accélérer de sitôt ;-))
L'Castor Junior_ki_lira_la_suite_avec_intérêt_!

Commentaire de akunamatata posté le 26-09-2008 à 10:38:00

Désolé pour les non anglophones, j'ai décidé de conter cette course dans la langue de Shakespeare d'abord et de traduire ensuite. Habituellement je faisais le contraire et j'étais un peu frustre du résultat...
Patience, patience, bizarrement j'ai un petit lectorat du cote de la Hongrie et je pense a eux cette fois ci ;)

Commentaire de L'Dingo posté le 26-09-2008 à 10:49:00


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