On 30 June 2019 I finished the 42k Mont Blanc Marathon.
I came across the Tracks and Trails introduction to trail running camp in Chamonix in 2016 when I was looking for one final challenge before I started my career as a solicitor. Tracks and Trails had great reviews and the camp seemed like the perfect opportunity to get out of my comfort zone, try something new and run in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I signed up alone with absolutely no experience in trail running, a new pair of trail shoes, and a few hours of running on a treadmill at an incline.
Little did I know that I would quickly fall in love with trail running during that week that I would be back in Chamonix running the 42km Mont Blanc Marathon. During the camp Julia taught us everything from how to tackle technical descents, the pros and cons of using poles, running across snow, nutrition, heart rate monitoring and pacing. In the back of my head I kept thinking about the Mont Blanc Marathon and it stuck with me for another three years.
With the help of another trip to Chamonix in October 2018 to fit in some trail running with Tracks and Trails guide Vic (who is so inspiring and supportive), and a few trips to Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons to get in some hill running. It was by far the hardest and longest race I have done to date. While I have trained hard for road marathons before and have run sub-4 hours, there was nothing that quite compared to the mental challenge of facing the massive climbs, altitude and heat involved in the Mont Blanc race. With a 6am start, and a relatively cool and flat first half, the marathon then takes you up to the first massive climb, the Aiguillette des Posettes. Fortunately, this was one of the climbs I'd experienced in Julia’s 2016 trail camp so I knew what to expect and how to pace it. I also found that I had run other parts of the race and the familiarity of recognising a trail was a relief on such a long and hot course!
In addition to the Mont Blanc Marathon I have also run a few other trail races which I had the confidence to do because of my weeklong introduction to trail running with Tracks and Trails. From an 8-mile race in Wimbledon, to a half marathon in North Wales to a 16-mile race around Bath I have been able to explore some of the most beautiful areas and know exactly how to train, what to pack and what to expect. I could not recommend Tracks and Trails more!
Well done Julianne on your Chamonix marathon success, we feel very proud to have played a part of your journey. Julia