UTMB Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc: OCC

The UTMB is more than a race. It is a feeling that grows with you from the first moment the e-mail pings through, to inform you that you were lucky in the ballot. It is a kaleidoscope of memories, of moments of elation, and also of deep despair.
It is the Conquest of Paradise by Vangelis, the theme music of the race; children next to the trail, with their hands held up for high fives; dust rising from beneath your feet; the pool of light provided by the head torch catching the glimmer of the way markers; the hubbub of the aid stations; and most importantly, the sound of silence on the trail.

A very nice surprise was waiting for me in my inbox on one of those cold and gloomy January mornings:

Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2022 at 10:05
Subject: Your result of the 2022 UTMB Mont-Blanc lottery 🥁
To: Maciej Zgadzaj

Dear Maciej,

We are very happy to announce that you were selected to participate in the 2022 OCC 2022

The whole UTMB® community is waiting for you to write the history of the 19th edition of the Sommet Mondial du Trail Running!

Very good news, especially considering that this year is the last year of validity of my ITRA points, and after getting selected and then having to withdraw from the last year's OCC due to the tibia fracture my points are going to expire soon.

So here is what is coming - a nice run from Orsieres Switzerland to Chamonix France:

The race starts from Orsières located southwest of the canton in the Val d’Entremont. This valley offers unique landscapes: ultimate peaks on the eastern flanks of the Mont Blanc drawing the franco-swiss frontier, hanging glaciers on polished rocks, fiery torrents… The layout of the OCC goes through that nature, in a charming atmosphere before reaching Champex and the last part just as magical at the UTMB® or the CCC®.

...with some 3.500 metres of climbing:

...all to be done in 14h30 max:

Fingers crossed that my tibia fracture history will not repeat itself this time.

Bib pick-up in Chamonix

And here it is, in all its fresh glory:

Before the start

Catching night shuttle bus from Chamonix to Orsières:

Few hours left before the start spent in the church in Orsières:

Met Adelino, the old friend from Paris Trail Running Meetup group:

He suported me mentally in last stressful minutes before the start, when it turned out that my running compression short are breaking apart at the seam where you do not really want to show what's underneath. Fortunately a local sport shop was scheduled to - and did open just 15 minutes before the start of our wave, so I was able to get new overshorts to cover what needed to be covered.

Start from Orsières

Up to Champex-Lac

Up to La Giète

Down to Trient

Up to Chalet des Grands

Up to Col de Balme

Down to Le Tour and Argentière

Up to La Flégère

Down to Chamonix

In the dark, no pics here.

Finish line

Well earned finisher's beer:

Finish line from the finisher's beer point of view:

And on the next - still quiet - morning:



OCC 2022 highlights:

UTMB 2022 highlights: