At the end of June, I ran my first trail race!
It was also my first trip to the Alps. My friend who lives in Paris was planning on doing the 10km du Mont Blanc with a few of her friends, so I decided to join their trip. It was an incredible weekend, and felt way too short. I already want to plan my next trip to the Alps!
I went to Paris on Thursday afternoon, spent some time roaming around, and we left for Chamonix, France on Friday afternoon.
It was a very long drive from Paris (yes, we drove!) but because the sunset was so late, it was still light out when we arrived. We stayed at an adorable ski chalet Airbnb in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, a town about 20 minutes from Chamonix.
The trail race was at 1pm on Saturday afternoon and we had to pick up our numbers before 11am, so we headed to the race village in Chamonix in the morning.
We were running the “beginner” distance at 10km; the race weekend also included a 23km race, a 42km race, and an 80km race, in addition to a 17km nighttime relay and a vertical kilometer!
I didn’t have any expectations for this race, since I hadn’t trained much and had no experience running on trails. I knew that the elevation was going to be intense: we started at 850 meters and went up from there! It was also very hot, about 80 degrees and sunny even in the mountains.
There was no water on the course, which we knew ahead of time, so we carried water bottles. But it was so hot that by the halfway point, I had almost finished my water.
The course was absolutely gorgeous, but it was really hard. I was a lot slower than I’d hoped I would be – maybe the elevation affected me more than I’d anticipated, or maybe the heat got to me (it was 84 degrees when we finished!) and I found it to be really challenging.
Maria Laura and I had agreed to stick together for the whole race but I definitely held her back! Even in the first few miles of the race I had to take a few walk breaks. And that was before the steep incline in Mile 4!
About halfway through, there was a very long and steep incline. At this point, everyone stopped and walked. The path was only big enough to go single-file, and it zig-zagged up the side of the mountain for a seemingly endless time. In the above photo, you can see how steep it was – it was really just a hike at this point.
You can definitely see in my splits where that big climb was!
Finally we reached the top of the hill, and then we had to go back down it which was equally challenging. The path was still very narrow and people were trying to pass us, which made me nervous because of the steep drop down the mountainside. Eventually the course evened out and we tried to speed up to the finish. I was SO ready to be done!
Official time: 1:23:50. Over a half hour slower than my 10K PR!
Immediately after the finish, I started to feel lightheaded from dehydration. There was a water bottle filling station right after the finish line and I desperately gulped down half of my water bottle before refilling it again.
In the post-race area there were bananas, water bottles as well as bottles of sparkling mineral water (to replenish electrolytes). There were also thick hunks of bread, sharp cheese, and sliced salami to make sandwiches from! I never thought I’d want a salami and cheese sandwich after a race, but I was craving something salty and it hit the spot. There was also Coca Cola, which tasted like heaven!
So what’s the verdict after my first trail race?
It was worth it for the views…but I think I’ll stick to the roads!
Have you ever run a trail race?
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