Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc—C’est très difficile!

The verdict is in. The UTMB is one tough race. This unforgiving race course put a hurting on many of the runners, including Deb. She was forced to retire (arret) at the Refuge Bonati at the 89km mark. So, she still ran more than 55 miles and climbed more than 16,000 feet…and only made it a little past the half way point. We are not quite sure what was bothering her, but the symptoms were headache, vomiting, and extreme lethargy. It was likely a combination of things: lack of acclimatization, altitude, jet lag, a stomach bug, a tough race, etc.

Deb Livingston, Stephanie Ehret, and Peter Bakwin at the start.

Since Bonatti was at 2020 meters (over 6000 feet), she was flown off the mountain by a rescue helicopter. The problem is that they took her to a hospital in Aoste, Italy, and just left her there with no way of getting in touch with us or getting back to France. Aoste is a long ways away. I will publish a list of “lessons learned” that all future racers can benefit from.

Topher Gaylor ran well.           Deb in Saint Gervais.

A long adventure ensued for the crew (Buddy Teaster, Shep, and me) as we drove all over Courmayeur, Italy, looking for the hospital. She was able to make a call, but didn’t really know where she was and only one nurse spoke English. At one point, out of frustration, she considered walking back to the aid station in Courmayeur. Thankfully she didn’t because it was like 40 kilometers (25 miles) away! We didn’t know there wasn’t a hospital in Courmayeur.

Buddy Teaster at the wheel of the “team car.”

The Teaster Clan was amazing. Without them, well, I’m not sure what to say. We would have had bigger issues to deal with. Just hours before we finally reached Deb in Aoste, we were on the other side of the course, in La Fouly, Switzerland…waiting for Deb. We spent a lot of time in the van. Thank goodness for the van! And wow, what switchbacks. Buddy could qualify to drive the Pikes Peak Hill Climb now.

Before we went to Switzerland, Shep was in bed (staying with Becca, Taylor, and Laura Macie Teaster at the apartment in Chamonix, France) and Buddy and I were in Courmayeur. We were up all night waiting for Deb to arrive. She was hurting when she did arrive, but I got her pumped up, fueled up, and in shape to continue….to Bonatti. Thanks Scott. Too bad she didn’t return to Courmayeur both of the times that she turned around. Some force was pulling her towards the finish despite all of that nausea!

So, I went through the Tunnel Mont Blanc four times in one day. It was ugly, and expensive. The last time, we waited nearly 2 hours. Deb recovered and is feeling fine. We hiked 10 kilometers today with 4000 feet of elevation gain. We took a cog railway back down from the Mer de Glace (big glacier).

The regional hospital in Aoste, Italy.

They have big hills here. We just might have to comeback and try a new solution to conquer the Ultra Trail Tour du Mont Blanc. Maybe Deb and I (and Buddy) will run it together. To be continued….

The view from our balcony…the reason why we are here!

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Senior Night at Bolton High School: Bolton vs. Somers vs. Coventry. Made it from the middle school race in time for the boys race. Missed the girls but stayed for the festivities. #xc #running 🏃🏽‍♂️
Fantastic evening for XC at my middle school alma mater. Bolton vs. Vernon vs. Porter. @trailrunningmom is a wonderful coach! #running #xc 🏃🏽‍♀️
From #newyork Sunday for @pearljam at @thegarden to #Chicago on Wednesday for @imtschicago it’s already been a busy week with lots of planes, trains, automobiles, and jet packs! Amazing technology at the show.
#usa
A final @hardrock100run update for now and it’s a bit of a bummer. @trailrunningmom stoped at Animas Forks Aid Station just shy of the 59 mile mark. Persistent nausea and the inability to eat or drink weakened her. She arrived in Ouray in this condition and even a 40 minute nap didn’t improve the situation. She is at peace with her decision to stop and it helps that she finished this beast of a race in 2017 going the other direction. I unexpectedly joined her between Ouray and Animas Forks because I didn’t want to see her go alone. We got to suffer together for eight hours and enjoyed an amazing moonlit night. In our household there is always more to learn when you miss a goal than when you hit one.
@trailrunningmom has quite a crew assembled in Ouray at the @hardrock100run We await her arrival. From the looks of the tracking she was likely suffering in the climb and dealing with the t-storms. She might have had to hunker down because her location didn’t change for a long time. Now she appears to me hammering the six plus mile descent to the LOW point in the course in Ouray at a 7,792 feet.
Riding out the latest storm in Ouray. This weather is something else. To be a Hardrocker this year is going to take extra gumption. ⛈ @trailrunningmom appears to be moving steadily (according to the tracker) but the climb to Kroger’s Canteen slowed her. She gets a lot of downhill into Ouray so let’s hope she can keep running. We are planning a longer pit stop here including a full wardrobe change. Fingers crossed she gets here by dark around 9:00 P.M. @hardrock100run
Telluride was a blur. @trailrunningmom left the aid station around 3:20pm or so. She changed her socks (needed dry ones), got some solid food, freshened up in the “latrine”, and got moving again. We met up with Amy and John and they were a big help. Even my friend Mike, a part time Telluride resident, stopped by Town Park to cheer and assist. On to Ouray…she won’t be there for five hours or so. There are serious ⛰ ⛰ in between.
@trailrunningmom came into Chapman Gulch at 11:46am but if you are tracking then you know that. She was doing fine at 18.1 miles. Little D said Mom is pacing well but wasn’t as “exuberant” as past races. A big rainstorm just blew through and the clouds are threatening again. Next up: Telluride

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