23 August 2014

PTL is approaching

I am since yesterday in Chamonix preparing for Petite Trotte a Leon (PTL) which will start on Monday 5:30 pm CET. The UTMB start arch is built, but besides that there are not many signs that the town is going to be turned into the trail and mountain running capital next week. The sales exhibition start not until Tuesday, when we will be somewhere in the Swiss alps, and starting PTL feels little like jumping the gun.
On the other hand is PTL more aligned with the other activities here and I had an interesting discussion today with some climbers regarding some of the more technical glacier passages at PTL. It has been a very strange summer here in Chamonix with cold weather and plenty of rain and snow and the organizers have therefore shortened the track a little bit and taken away the passages to Cabane du Trient and Cabane de Valsorey. I think it is a very good decision and it will certainly still be a formidable challenge to finish the route, which still is 294 km with 26557 meters D+. The two late glacier passages at Col de la Sassiere (after 206 km) and Col de l'Argueray (after 231 km) is still retained and we can now only hope the weather will be good enough to enable us to run the intented original course. Regretfully it looks like we might get some rain and snow during Tuesday/Wednesday, but it might be local and more in France than in the Swiss and Italian parts of the tour where we hopefully will be then.

Mont Blanc over the clouds today seen from Aiguille du Midi

I am much less nervous before PTL than I was before Tor des Geants (TDG) last year for three reasons. Firstly, obviously, I now know much more what is waiting and hopefully I will have learnt something from my mistakes at TDG. It is still going to hurt immensly, however, and I do realize that PTL is much more challenging due to the technical non way-marked course and the need to plan for food yourself to a great extent. I just read an excellent and insightfull comparison between PTL and TDG by Jill Homer and I cannot say that I did not felt my heart-rate increase and thought once again what I have signed up for. Secondly, I am much better trained this year. I have had a great pre-season both with regards to milage and aerobic speed/hill training. The last few weeks have also been great, I have had a slight cold, but nothing interferimg with my form and my legs feel absolutely great. Today and tomorrow I am adjusting to the altitude at Aiguille du Midi at 3800 meters to avoid the onset of Acute Mountain Sickness I had early on before adjusting in TDG. Finally, and most importantly, I am now part of a team and it will be great to run with Otto Elmgart. He is an outstanding ultra-runner with great results from for instance Badwater last year and previously Sparthatlon and I am sure I will learn a lot from him during the coming week.

The only sad thing, besides of course being away from the family for more than one week which indeef is painful, is that our original teammate Tobias Lindström, who was the first Swede completing PTL last year, cannot be running with us. He is not unhappy himself however as he is embarking on the bigger life adventure of becoming a father any day now. He has, as Stefan Andreazzoli did before TDG last year, been tremendously helpful in providing valuable tips and support and his spirit lives on in the name of the team which he coined; "Living the dream".

For security reasons each PTL team has to carry a GPS transmitter/beacon and this also mean that it is possible to follow the progress of the teams live at http://www.nexxtep.fr/UTMB/EN/ and http://utmb.livetrail.net. Information will also be provided at the UTMB homepage. I have race bib 10601 and Otto 10602. I will probably post something more before the race start, but now I need to continue eating and sleeping to make up for some the deficiencies in both next week.

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