04 September 2014

Survived Petite Trotte à Léon

I am shattered. Utterly shattered both physically and mentally. The “Petite” Trotte à Léon (PTL) was a long walk in the shadows of death and fear and it looks like it will be quite a recovery period. I am extremely grateful to have survived and to have lived the whole experience without any major incidents. And, most important of all I am happy to have done this all the way together with Otto Elmgart, a genuine great friend and perhaps the strongest person both physically and mentally I have ever met. Our accomplishment was without doubt the greatest experience I have had of the power of true teamwork and I cannot thank Otto enough for this. We finished our approximately 295 kilometer long journey with 26500 D+ meters early on Sunday morning after 134 hours 09 minutes and 37 seconds as the 14th team returning to Chamonix. Three hours before that, during the descent from Bellevue to Les Houches through the dark steep forest of Arandellys, we were not sure of completing, or even surviving, the race. The sleep deprivation had gone too far with less than 10 hours sleep totally during the race and we were completely exhausted and each step on the wet slippery roots and rocks during the steep descent was a like a walk in the darkest nightmare. Our teamname “Living the dream” seemed more ironic than ever at that time.

I both experienced and learned tremendously during PTL, I think it is like no other a race where you live outside the world and even time during your run – you have be in this concentrated state of mind in order to finish the race and survive. It is completely different than Tor des Géants (TDG), not only in terms of technical difficulty and toughness of the climbs and descends, but also in that this is an adventure where you really have to sustain yourself in the often harsh mountain environment with respect to all basic bodily functions like fluid and energy intake and management of feet and legs. If you are lucky, as Otto and I were, you discover how beautiful and efficient the body is as a machine taking you through this whole amazing route with reasonable time before the cut-offs. I actually think it was a disadvantage to have run TDG beforehand, as I had expected something similar in terms of friendly and helpful aid stations and refugees for instance. And, then I have not even mentioned the navigation issues. Let me just say that I am still dreaming nightmares of a pink GPS track on a white map background that I am trying to follow desperately in vain.

I was running PTL with a rather severe upper respiratory tract infection, the later part of the track my cough was rather nasty, and I think I can blame my slow recovery after the race on that. My feet managed reasonable well, however, as did my legs. But, I am still waking up drenched in sweat every night and feeling kind of woozy throughout the days. Was it worth it? It is an irrelevant question as now it is done and I have certainly earned the green Finisher west. But, I have promised both myself and my family not to run PTL in the near future in the current format again. It is simply too dangerous, I share much the same thoughts as Jill Homer of the race, and if I knew how dangerous it would be I should not have done it. Again, I have no one to blame than myself – the warning in red on the PTL homepage is there and it is completely accurate to the point (see below). I still love the mountains though, perhaps more than ever, and as my wife suggested, there are plenty of shorter skyrunning races in pretty amazing mountains out there.
 
Read these carefully before signing up for PTL
I am not sure whether I will write a longer race report from PTL, more likely I will write separately about certain aspects of the race. For now I can share a movie of the crossing of one of the glaciers during the race - the ascent to Col de la Sassière after approximately 200 kilometers and 20000 D+. We climbed this around Friday noon after having been running for approximately 90 hours.

 

I would like to thank Otto again for everything both before and during the race, and also Tobias Lindström, who should have been with us but who embarked on the much bigger adventure and became a father during the race week. I would also like to thank the race organizers, they did an amazing job both before the race following the untimely passing of Jean-Claude Marmier, and during the race despite changing weather conditions, and the challenges we faced are not to be blamed on them. All fellow PTL runners were also a great support, it truly felt like we were being part in this together as comrades. Lastly, thanks to my wonderful family - this time it really felt good to return home.

2 comments:

  1. Vi behöver nog ingen längre rapport. Jag kan ana hur ni haft det och kan inte annat än betrakta et som hjältar. Grattis till PTL!

    ReplyDelete