This was my first proper mountain trail marathon. Wasn't sure what to expect and how my body would react, considering that my preparation for it got a big hit after spraining my ankle back in February and not doing any training for almost 2 months afterwards; I also had to cancel my participation in Ecotrail Paris and then in Paris Marathon, which were supposed to get me ready for this race; and finally my most advanced training being few short trails in Gorges de l'Ardèche, followed by another (this time successful) take on 35 bosses of Fontainebleau, and finally trail in Forêt de Montmorency - none of which compared in distance or amount of climbing which was waiting for me here.
And what was waiting was a full 42 km (or, actually, 44 km, as it turned out in the end) of mountainous technical trail, with 2,780 metres of climbing to altitude over 2,000 metres, during a heatwave currently gripping big parts of France.
We started at 6 am, an hour earlier than originally planned, due to forecasted thunderstorm risk in the afternoon.
First 10 km up to Argentiere were relatively flat, easy and fast, with wide forest path and easy overtaking.
After Argentiere it's up the first longer hill - Col des Montets, which meant walking and bottlenecks, and much more difficult to overtake.
Then from Vallorcine there's a nice 1,000 metres climb to Aiguillettes des Posettes, where sun finally caught up with us after first 23 kms in a nice shade.
Summit of Aiguillettes des Posettes at 2,201 metres.
Exhilarating and quad-killing technical descent on the other side, which brought me to the brink of cramps, but fortunately managed to avoid them in the end.
The rest was just a slow single line slog, under scorching sun, counting remaining kilometers to the finish line.
With a nasty surprise at the last ravito, where my Garmin showed 39 km already ticked off, but a sign in the tent telling us there are 5 km still to go. Ugh!
In frustration I hadn't properly checked how much water I still had left on me, which resulted in very dry final 3 km to the finish line. Fortunately managed to make it in the end without any problems.
Exhausted, but very happy and proud finisher!
Look who took the cable car for the first time in his life to meet me at the finish line!
And what's most important, no injuries. Ankle felt 100% good, no new sprains, Achilles wasn't very happy at the beginning, but after warming up it didn't complain anymore.
All in all, an amazing race, felt really good throughout, breathtaking vistas all around, and great organisation.
According to official results I finished the race in 7h59m27s, with plenty of time left before the official cut-off at 9h30m; managed to overtake almost 300 runners on the way (started as 1416th, finished 1120th), so in general very happy with my performance, considering it was my first proper trail marathon.
Now I want more!