I have nothing against Switzerland or France. But I have to admit that out of the three countries that Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) travels thru, Italy is my favorite.
Since Western States in the end of June, my training has been good – but not great. I therefore decided to give my preparations for UTMB a boost with a four or five day run around Mt. Blanc. I arrived in Milan/Italy on Saturday and drove directly to one of my favorite towns, Courmayeur. This gem of the Aosta valley is such a nice place with narrow streets, good and affordable restaurants and not too many tourists. After a good night sleep I ran/hiked to La Fouly in Switzerland, following the UTMB course. From La Fouly I followed the well marked trail that I’ll be visiting again in a months time…
Here’s the short version of my UTMB training camp:
Day 1: Courmayeur to La Fouly (Switzerland), 33 km.
Day 2: La Fouly to La Flegere (France), 53 km. I took the gondola down from La Flegere in order to save some money. The refuge at La Flegere is expensive and cramped (dormitory).
Day 3: La Flegere to Notre Dame de la Gorge (France), 37 km.
Day 4: Notre Dame de la Gorge to Courmayeur (Italy), 46 km.
The original plan was to do the UTMB-loop i five days. But the Refugio Elisabetta was full when I got there. Luckily I’m an ultra runner so I didn’t mind doing an extra 15 km. on Wednesday afternoon to make it all the way to Courmayeur. It was also quite motivating to know that once I arrived in Courmayeur there would be a nice pizza, some good italian wine and a hotel bed.
After a (vegetarian) pizza at the Pizzeria du Tunnel in Courmayeur and a good night sleep, I drove to Bergamo where I am now. The reason why I am here is that I am going to run the Gran Trail Orobie tomorrow (Saturday). The race is 70 km long with 4.200 meters of elevation, so it is going to be a good challenge. The race starts in Carona and finishes in the old town here in Bergamo. It is possible to follow the race live via this link. I have bib number 5 (and I’m doing the GTO, not the longer race Orobie Ultra Trail). From what I’ve heard, the trails is technical and challenging, but the scenery is amazing.
Wish me luck!