One of the sporting highlights of the Chamonix summer season takes place this weekend – the Marathon du Mont Blanc.
The event comprises 5 main races; the Vertical KM, the 10KM, the Cross du Mont Blanc Half Marathon, the Marathon du Mont Blanc and the 80KM du Mont Blanc, as well as a handful of “mini-marathons” for children.
The classic is the Marathon du Mont Blanc; 42km covering 2760m of positive elevation gain and 2 big climbs up and over the Aiguillette des Posettes at 2201m, then dropping back down to the valley floor only to scramble back up again to the finish line at Plan Praz 2016m.
You may wonder who on earth would voluntarily choose to put themselves through this? Well, funnily enough, all of the races are filling up faster and faster each year with tens of thousands of people desperate to take part – only 2000 are lucky enough to gain a place in the marathon, with 1500 running in the Cross and 1000 in the 80km.
I hesitate to call them “races” as for most people they’re not so much about what ranking you get as to how much you relish the whole experience. From joining your fellow runners at the start line as the sun comes up over the mountains, to slogging up steep alpine trails, traversing high altitude ridges, trying not to trip as you gawp open-mouthed at the stunning view, channeling your inner mountain goat as you bound down technical descents, scarfing cheese and chocolate at the fueling stations, being cheered on by weathered old farmers as you charge through their cow pastures… it’s about a lot more than “what time did you get?”.
Once you’ve crossed the finish line and got that medal round your neck you may find yourself in need of a little TLC – perhaps a soak in a hot tub, or a relaxing leg massage, maybe even a physio session with a sports fitness specialist? Book your treatment in advance to be sure of availability, those masseurs are going to be very busy over the next few days!
If you’ve decided to make a holiday of it and stay in Chamonix beyond the weekend then take a look at our summer activities to see what you can do while you are here – you can check out the marathon route from above with a parapente flight over the valley, or stretch out those stiff legs with a spot of rock climbing. If you’ve come with the family there are plenty of children’s activities that everyone can enjoy.
We’ll be cheering on four of our team members this weekend, as Sophie from Mountain Lifestyle and Meg from Mountain Base are both entered in the marathon, while Sonya and Cherie from Mountain Lifestyle will be running in the Cross. Whichever challenge you’re taking on this weekend, we wish you the best of luck and we’ll see you at the finish line!