24 February 2014

Back in Courmayeur

I have spent the past week in Courmayeur skiing with my family. The weather was nice with several warm sunny days, there were plenty of snow in good condition, compared to Swedish ski resorts there were not many people in the lift system and in ski pistes, the views over the Mont Blanc massif in one direction and down the Aosta Valley in the other were priceless and visiting Italy is always a culinary experience. I also was able to go for short runs every day after skiing and it felt surprisingly good. In short, it was a really great vacation.
The Mont Blanc massif to the north of the ski piste

Courmayeur and the Aosta Valley to the south
It was also great to be back and be reminded of the days I spent in the town before and after last year’s Tor des Géants (TDG). The selection/inscription process TDG 2014 is underway and it looks now as there will most likely be several experienced Swedish ultrarunners, including Johan Wagner who has run UTMB several times, Jesper Fägersten, Peter Larsson and Jerry Bärnsten, who might get one of the coveted 660 places in the challenge in September. It is indeed a completely captivating adventure and not a single day passes without me thinking about some particular moment when I was out there around the Aosta valley – it truly is like animaginary running band around my wrist. I am very happy that PTL 2014 will pass the valley extensively with for instance the third life base after 170 km (just over 100 miles) located in Morgex just south of Courmayeur.

I was also reminded Tor des Géants when I read two new recently published scientific articles about the race: “Influence of the world’s most challenging mountain ultra-marathon on energy cost and running mechanics” by Vernillo and colleagues in preprint in Eur J Appl Physiol 2014 and “Alterations in postural control during the world’smost challenging mountain ultra-marathon” by Degache and colleagues in PLoS One9(1): e84554. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0084554. I will describe the findings in these two very interesting studies from Grégorie Millet’s group in two separate blog posts. TDG has indeed really proved to be a great experiment for the limits of human endurance and there are now three articles based on the race including “Alterations of neuromuscular function after the world's mostchallenging mountain ultra-marathon” by Saugy and colleagues which I described in a blog post last summer.

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