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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Helping out our neighbors: the kids are playing “farmer” this weekend. 🐓 🐐
Pumped to be back at the @newenglandairmuseum for Women Take Flight 2022. I brought Little D to help!
Little D says my artistic ability is lacking and that I’m better at business and cycling. Even still, we had a great afternoon @thefirestonect and then at the library. Florence was lovely company at our cafe table. The librarian pointed out a book option and then I reminded all within earshot that you can’t judge a book by its cover! #art #painting
Well that was pretty incredible. Congrats to @trailrunningmom Congrats to ALL the participants whether they finished or not. Mahalo to ALL of the volunteers. More will be written about this ohana when we get home.
@trailrunningmom was holding steady as she departed Nu’uanu for the last time at 92.5 miles. Shepard is having fun but it’s all business now. There is a pitched battle for second place and if they keep pushing, it’s a threat to Debbie’s lead. I’m doing the mental math and she has to keep pushing too. Anna and Mele left the aid station together and are throwing down.
I said I would only post two more times, but I’m posting three. A big shout out to fellow New Englander, our “adopted” runner and Hawaii “housemate” Tim Glickman. I’m pulling for him to persevere. He came through lap four at Nu’uanu at 72.5 miles and was hurting but we agreed he would NOT quit. They will have to make him stop. I told him to just keep moving forward.
We made it to Paradise Park Aid Station (Manoa) just in time to catch @trailrunningmom at mile 87 (or so). Shepard is on pacing duty now and he decided to go from here rather than Nu’uanu. That’s cool. She is up to 7th overall which is also pretty cool. She hasn’t faltered yet and we don’t expect her to. I’ll post after Nu’uanu and then at the finish…and then I’m done!
@trailrunningmom is on the final lap (five) now and back on her own. This images are from our overnight “date.” We ran to Manoa and then to Nu’uanu and then back to the Nature Center. She is hanging tough, just like the sign says. I’ll meet back up with the kids and track down their Mom again soon.
It’s been seven hours since the last report. I joined @trailrunningmom for lap four/the graveyard shift. This sequence includes her return to the Nature Center after lap three and then our trek to Manoa. She is running so well on this gnarly course.

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