Ultramarathon Running for Little Hearts Matter

100 m to go...

Update – 14 October, 2013 – I did it!!!! 68 km (42 1/4 miles) and 2048 m vertical (6719 feet) in 9 hours. Very happy with my time. Needless to say I can barely walk today. Thanks to everyone for your support. I raised over £1500 for my chosen charity, Little Hearts Matter.

Update – 25 September, 2013 – I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support I have received. Two weeks into trying to collect sponsorship, I have now exceeded my target. Thank you so much for everyone who has sponsored me. Now all I have to do is run nearly 70 km in just over 2 weeks time! Yikes.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

2012 St Maurice Ultramarathon
2012 St Maurice Ultramarathon, ready for the off

Back in September 2012, I found myself in Chamonix the same weekend as the  Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, a grueling race of around 168 km and 9600 m of positive altitude change which takes anything between 21 h to 46 h to complete. Rather than watch this and think “these folk are crazy”, for some reason it made me want to try ultra trail running.

4 weeks later and I found myself lining up to start the St Maurice Ultra (The Défis du Jubilé), a trail run through some historical biblical sites in the Swiss canton of Valais. Not quite the monster race that the Mont Blanc Ultra is, there are a number of stages ranging from 7 km to 68 km. Given the lack of training, and the fact that it was my first, I opted for the 52 km race. And amazingly I achieved my two goals…to finish and to not come last!

Rather than get it out of my system, I now have a taste for ultra running, so this year on October 12th I will be going for the full 68 km race, with over 2000 m of vertical gain covering all seven stages in one day. And in doing so, I have decided to raise some money for a small charity in the UK, Little Hearts Matter, a worthwhile charity which offers support and information, and raises awareness of those affected when a child is born with a rare heart condition (such as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome).

If anyone out there would like to sponsor me for this good cause, you can do so via my Just Giving page.


Danny Hart wins 2011 MTB World Championship in Champery

Danny Hart World Champion 2011I’ve just got back from the 2011 MTB World Championship Downhill race in Champery, where Danny Hart rode a legendary race to become the 2011 champion.

The conditions today were difficult to say the least. The rain has been constant all day, varying between heavy & torrential. The Champery downhill course is testing at the best of times. Add in heavy mud, small rivers pouring down the course and low visibility, and most riders were fighting just to stay on their bikes.

The fastest times were set by the riders mid way through the race, and as the rain got harder, and visibility got worse, it looked like all the following riders would fall by the wayside.

Then Danny Hart took to the gate. He nailed the route from the outset, taking new lines and carrying speed through even the hardest & steepest sections. As he came into the final section he even managed to through in a couple of whips so big he was almost horizontal. Then he crossed the line over 11 seconds faster than the previous leader.

The Champery course made a legend of Sam Hill after his amazing run in 2009. In 2011, Danny Hart ecplised that and proved he is truly king of the mountain.

Following Danny, Gee Atherton crashed a couple of times coming in covered in mud. Even Arron Gwin who looked very dangerous at the start managed to crash and came in twelfth.

All of which meant that the 19 year old from Redcar was crowned 2011 World Champion. Good work Danny.

2011 MTB World Championship Men's Results

Winter season update – March 12th 2010

Chatel Waterslide
Chatel 3 style days

As we near the half way point in March, it is clear that this is turning into an epic season. We have had consistent snowfall and cold temperatures now pretty much since the end of December, snow conditions are still fantastic, the sun is shining and the pistes are pretty empty. I knew there was a reason why I love March skiing so much.

There are some great events lined up over the next couple of weeks, including the Chatel 3 style days which includes downhill mountainbiking on snow, freestyle ski & board competition and waterslide (20-24th March).

Full details of the event can be found on the Chatel Tourism Website.

Chatel’s big red London bus…

This weekend is Chatel’s St Laurant festival – an annual festival celebrating the village’s patron saint.

This is always a colourful and fun day, with floats of all descriptions making circuits of the village centre. This year, however, the British expats have been invited to enter the procession. Are we going to be subtle about things? Absolutely not! Look out for a large red London bus on the streets of Chatel. Possibly similar in quality to the Bejing/London Olympic red bus (although we can’t guarantee David Beckham will be on it).

I will post photos after the event.

The Passportes du Soleil Mountain Bike Race

Passportes du Soleil
Passportes du Soleil

The Passportes du Soleil is an epic mountain bike race in the huge Portes du Soleil region of France & Switzerland which heralds the start of summer and the opening of the lift system. It takes place over the last weekend in June, and has evolved from an earlier event known as the “Freeraid”.

Most riders don’t really treat the Passportes as a race (although you do get a number for the front of your bike) but simply a great day’s mountain bike riding. The event is massive – 2 days, 3 courses (30, 45 & 75 km) and 3700 riders. The classic trek of 75 km includes 12 ski lifts, 6500 m of total downhill, 500 m of total uphill climb.

What makes this event unique is the fact that it attracts a wide range of participants – from lycra clad cross country riders to armour clad downhill riders, and from beginners to experts. Everyone gets involved and rides the same course. True, the cross country riders tend to beat the downhill riders on the climbs, and for the real keen peddlers, there is also optional climbing sections. And true the downhillers tend to overtake the cross country riders when it comes to descending, and there are a couple of optional “free ride” sections. But overall, the race is a fantastic melting pot of all mountain bike styles and standards.

As for the course itself – it has to be one of the best in the world! It takes in some amazing panoramas on the Morgins and Champoussin sections with views of the Dents du Midi, the Dents Blanch and even Mont Blanc. There is some excellent steep and twisty single track down through the woods in Torgon. There are dedicated downhill courses used at Chatel and Les Gets. There is an epic descent from the top of Linderets down to Morzine and there are some great meandering cross-country sections on relatively easy 4×4 tracks.

Another excellent feature of this event are the fantastic refreshment stands located at regular intervals throughout the course. Large tables offer up a wide range of snacks and drinks, from energy/nut bars to cheese and ham, from energy drinks to beer and wine. It is always interesting to see who feels fit to tuck into the alcoholic drinks at ten in the morning, and then avoid them if you see them on the course!

The Passporte du Soleil is really an event for everyone. It has become so massive that it now sells out months in advance. However, if you visit the Portes du Soleil later on in the summer, it is possible to get a map from the local tourist office and cycle pretty much the whole route.

Race stats:

Classic trek – 75 Km
The classic circuit is for purists: a long tour of the Portes du Soleil about 75km
    * approximatively 75km – 12 lifts
    * 6500m of total downhill/ 500m of total uphill
    * 7 resorts to start from : Avoriaz, Châtel, Les Gets, Morzine, Champéry, Morgins et Torgon
    * 8 refreshments points

Intermediate trek – 45 km
45km with one aim in mind; having fun
    * approximatively 45km – 7 lifts
    * 4000m of total downhill /300m of total uphill.
    * 4 resorts to start from: Châtel, Champéry, Morgins et Torgon.
    * 4 refreshments points

Discovery trek – 30km
For those who are quite good at mountain biking, but out on The Portes du Soleil’s tracks for the first ime…an ideal “breaking in route”
    * approximatively 30km- 5 lifts
    * 2200m of total downhill/ 200m of total uphill
    * 3 resorts to start from: Avoriaz, Morzine et Les Gets
    * 3 refreshments points

For more information, visit the Passportes du Soleil website.