Altispeed – Val D’Isere 17/7/11

altispeed start

The original race I was supposed to do was the Ice Trial but owing to the bad forecast predicting rain, snow up high & strong winds the organisers took the decision to cancel this race and offer us the chance to do the shorter version which was 32km with 2500m ascent. It was disappointing but fair play to them. I later heard some locals went home rather than do the short version. With the new race came a more respectable start time, so after a bit of breakfast and last minute gear faff we rolled out at 8:30. I managed to get to the front on the start line as I figured I might as well try and make the most of the photo opportunity. The first few kms were on a track and this allowed me to settle down and get used to running again having not done anything for over a couple of weeks. I tagged onto a Lafuma sponsored runner and used her to pace me out. The route then went seriously up for the next few km and I decided I needed to push on at my own pace so started to pick my way past the runners in front - not always easy on the single track - and the effort to get round can be more than its worth. Before I knew it we’d hit the first check point at plan des gouilles (7Km) and understood how some on the start line were only minimally equipped, me carrying all my mandatory kit from the other race rather than risk being disqualified.

After here it was steeper climbing up to the col des fond des four. I took a few photos as I went along to the amazement of the other runners and marshals. As the weather was much better than predicted cool, dry with low cloud. On reaching the col we had a nice long descending traverse to meet the GR55 at Pont dela Niege (13Km) where Lisa & I had walked up from Bonneval D’Arc a couple of days previous. Arriving at the CP coincided with a change in the weather. The route from here was flagged and was supposed to follow the trail; however everyone was hoofing it up the road. So I followed suit, not really in keeping with the idea of the race but maybe I hadn’t got some info from the briefing. By the time we reached the ski station and the climb to the glacier pisaillas I’d donned my waterproof as it was raining and getting windier and with my hands already starting to get cold.

I’d hope my hands would come round but they never did and the weather only got worse so after contouring to the Col Pers before the climb to the Aguille De Pers I stopped and donned all my spare kit in a hope of getting warm and getting some blood circulating again. The climb up wouldn’t have been so bad if it hadn’t been for the fact that I had no feeling in my hands (I’d already put my poles away as my hands were now useless). I knew once I got to the top at least I’d be able to run down and should help warm me. It just seemed to take an age before the CP arrived and I could. The run down from the top to the Col D’Iseran was good more fell running than trail and I caught up the people that had been near me when I stopped to get dressed.
I didn’t take any pictures taken as it was dross weather! Later on I heard they started to stop people here from continuing due to the state they were in.

By the time I arrived at the Col D’Iseran (23Km) I had some life back in my fingers (the burning sensation was worth it) and the weather to my back. A short stop for food & water and I was off traversing up to the hidden tunnel. I’d been trying to figure how the route got to the other side and at the briefing they showed an access tunnel hidden in the cliffs. The climb up was loose and made worse as the rain loosened the binding of the soil around the rocks making it more like climbing an escalator. But before long I was there and heading through to pop out into what seemed another world. The weather better on this side as the mountain ridge shielded the ski bowl.

A couple of photos and a txt to Lisa to tell her I was on my descent and off I went deciding to push on a bit and see if I could catch a few of the runners I could see below me. By the top of the final drop to the finish I decide to stop and take off some clothes so I could enjoy the last bit without overheating. A nice descent using the mountain bike trail, glad of my studded grips as the path got a little “gloopy” and trying to make sure I didn’t do myself a mischief with another weeks trekking still ahead.

So I came in with a finish (32Km) time of 4:51hrs and 36th position quite happy with my run given the weather, getting cold and not having run for a bit. Definitely a course to suit UK style fell running and just a shame I’d not had chance to do the long course with its added interest of the glacier / snow running. So maybe I’ll have to come back with a view to racing the long one and a couple of the other events that are on weekends either side of this as the Haute Savoie seems to offer some great potential for quality outings.
profileHere’s the link to the website & more photos from this years race.

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